Luxemburg, 15 October 2012 Press release

Lopatka: “Syria’s neighbouring countries need EU support in dealing with refugees”

State Secretary Lopatka on current issues at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxemburg

Luxemburg, 15 October 2012 – “Europe’s important role in the world was once again demonstrated at today’s session of the Foreign Affairs Council. The EU is called upon to contribute its expertise – whether in the Mali/Sahel zone of crisis, in Syria, Iran or Palestine”, Austrian State Secretary Lopatka said in his update on the items on today’s agenda.

“There can be no military solution in Syria. Special Envoy Brahimi has our full support in this matter. We most strongly condemn the use of cluster munitions by the Syrian army against its own civilian population. I reaffirm the Austrian demand that the people in charge of excessive violence should be held accountable before the International Criminal Court; and the EU is now also stressing the importance of the Court for Syria.” “The EU has to prepare for an imminent wave of refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is expecting some 700,000 refugees to flee into the neighbouring countries by the end of the year. Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey will need support from the EU”, Lopatka said.

“As we cannot see any readiness for negotiations on the part of Iran, the EU has tightened its sanctions against the country further. We will not permit the Iranian regime to play for time. For Austria it is important that the sanctions are aimed at the institutions involved in the country’s nuclear scheme and do not do any harm to the Iranian people.”

As far as the peace process in the Middle East is concerned, Lopatka encouraged EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton to support a revival of the Diplomatic Quartet after the elections in the US and Israel to finally bring a return of dynamism to the process after the current standstill.

On the sidelines of the Council, an informal meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the future of Europe was held. At the meeting the report on the future of the EU – based on an initiative of German Foreign Minister Westerwelle and prepared with contributions of Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger – was discussed. The Foreign Ministers of the EU 27 agreed that the paper should be included in further discussions about the future of Europe.

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