My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 18 February. It will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini and will take place in Brussels.
Ministers will discuss the EU’s response to the Russian attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Black sea and look ahead to what is likely to be a challenging election year for Ukraine. Ministers will take stock of Ukraine’s reform efforts and consider how the EU can provide socioeconomic support to the sea of Azov region. The UK will welcome the EU’s readiness to provide economic and humanitarian support to those regions most affected by the ongoing conflict. It will also reiterate the need for a collective and high-profile response to Russia’s malign influence in Ukraine.
This discussion will focus on preparations for the upcoming Brussels III conference, ”Supporting the future of Syria and the region”, taking place on 13 and 14 March. The conference will aim to improve humanitarian access and the protection of civilians in Syria, as well as mobilise humanitarian assistance, including for refugee-hosting countries.
Horn of Africa
Ministers will discuss the political and security situation in the horn of Africa, including changing regional dynamics following reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The UK supports the EU proposal to review future engagement. The Council will also discuss mutual concerns about the Sudanese Government’s use of violent tactics in response to protests, and the need for wider reforms; as well as the political situation in Somalia, where the EU is urging the Somali Government to translate their commitment to progress into tangible results.
The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on Yemen, EU human rights guidelines on non-discrimination in external action, EU priorities in UN human rights forums in 2019, climate change diplomacy, and in response to the recent European Court of Auditors report on the implementation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRiT).