Schallenberg Attended the Foreign Council Affairs Meeting in Brussels

OrganizationsInternational Organizations ♦ Published: January 24, 2023; 21:18 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg attended the Foreign Council Affair meeting in Brussels, where he talked about several topics regarding European Security and other subjects.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg Attended The Foreig Council Affairs Meeting in Brussels. / Picture: © BMEIA Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres / Gruber / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

On January 23, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels together with his EU counterparts. The exchange focused on the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and current developments in Iran. The EU foreign ministers also exchanged views on the situation in the Sahel zone and West Africa and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. There was also an exchange with the Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.

Prior 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. The discussion focused on questions of nuclear security in Ukraine in the wake of Russian aggression, including the establishment of security zones around nuclear power plants in contested areas. In addition, General Manager Grossi reported on his recent trip to the country. Another topic discussed with the IAEA Director General was Iran's nuclear program.

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

Another item on the agenda of the meeting was the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Schallenberg emphasized that the EU must continue its worldwide efforts to combat the Russian narrative used to justify the unprovoked aggression against a neighboring country, which violates international law. However, better coordination among the EU member states is needed here. In addition, the Foreign Minister stressed the need to fully investigate Russian war crimes.

Regarding the situation in Montenegro, Minister Schallenberg reported to his counterparts on his joint trip with Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon on behalf of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell. In discussions with Montenegrin decision-makers, the EU's concerns about the current domestic political deadlock and the lack of progress made by Montenegro on its way to Europe were expressed. As a reaction to the visit, the procedure for filling four vacant judge positions at the Constitutional Court, which has so far not taken place, was tackled.

Concerning the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the EU foreign ministers decided to send around 100 border monitors to Armenia to keep the 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 on January 17.