IAEA Chief Grossi and Austrian Foreign Minister Schallenberg Visit Brussels

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: January 23, 2023; 22:21 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austria recorded a small but significant diplomatic success at Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg's visit to the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. Already in the run-up to the meeting, the EU foreign ministers met Rafael Grossi, Director General of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on the initiative of Foreign Minister Schallenberg.

Inviting IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi to the European Council of Foreign Ministers was an important initiative by Austria. / Picture: © Flickr / Dimitar Nikolov / [CC BY-SA 2.0(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)]

Current developments in Iran and the Russo-Ukrainian war were discussed during the exchange. Furthermore, the EU foreign ministers discussed the situation in the Sahel and West Africa, as well as the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. A meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh was also held.

The big surprise was the meeting on the initiative of Foreign Minister Schallenberg between EU foreign ministers and Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Schallenberg also proudly presented this on Twitter.

The discussion focused on nuclear security issues in Ukraine in the wake of Russian aggression, including the establishment of security zones around nuclear power plants in contested areas. In addition, Director General Grossi reported on his recent trip to the country.

Grossi briefed many on the nuclear safety situation in Ukraine and the Iranian nuclear program. The European foreign ministers showed their gratitude on Twitter. Among them are EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu

As mentioned, another topic of discussion with the IAEA Director General was Iran's nuclear program.

"The IAEA plays a key role in the most burning crises we currently face: the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine and the worrying downward spiral in Iran," said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, acknowledging the IAEA's important role in addressing current global challenges.

Subsequent EU Council meeting

The current situation in Iran was also a topic at the subsequent meeting of EU foreign ministers. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg reiterated that violence, arbitrary arrests, death sentences, and executions are completely unacceptable. Given these continuing serious human rights violations, the EU foreign ministers agreed at the meeting on what is now the fourth package of sanctions targeting individuals and organizations responsible for the brutal suppression of protests in Iran.

Another item on the meeting's agenda was the Russian war on Ukraine. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg stressed that the EU must continue its global outreach to counter the Russian narrative to justify unprovoked aggression against a neighboring state in violation of international law. However, better coordination among EU member states is needed in this regard, he said. In addition, the Foreign Minister stressed the need to fully investigate Russian war crimes.

"Ensuring accountability for war crimes committed in Ukraine is an essential issue for the European Union. We are dealing here with one of the grossest violations of the UN Charter in recent decades, by a state that is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the largest nuclear power on the planet," Foreign Minister Schallenberg stressed, referring to Austria's support for the Vienna-based Commission of Inquiry of the UN Human Rights Council and the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Referring to the situation in Montenegro, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg reported to his counterparts on his joint trip, as reported by Vindobona.org, with Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon on behalf of European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.

During the talks with Montenegrin decision-makers, he said, the EU's concern about the current domestic political deadlock and Montenegro's lack of progress on its path to Europe was expressed. As a reaction to the visit, the procedure for filling four vacant judgeships at the Constitutional Court, which has so far failed to materialize, had been initiated.

In addition, the EU foreign ministers exchanged views on current developments in the Sahel and the states of West Africa. Foreign Minister Schallenberg pointed out that increasing destabilization in both regions could lead to an increase in illegal migration to Europe. In this context, he said, it was important to continue joint efforts against Russia's growing influence.

Concerning the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the EU Foreign Ministers decided to send around one hundred border observers to Armenia to secure peace.

Foreign Minister Schallenberg again signaled Austria's support in this regard, which he had already expressed at a bilateral meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan in January, as Vindobona.org reported.