The Austrian Foreign Minister attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 22 January 2018. It was Karin Kneissl’s first journey to Brussels in her role as Austrian Foreign Minister.
The foreign ministers discussed, among other things, Turkey’s offensive in Syria. Before the meeting started, Foreign Minister Kneissl already said that this conflict needs a diplomatic solution: “I think the developments are really alarming. This week at the UN headquarters in Vienna there will be negotiations on Syria once again. It’s been proven time and again that such problems can only be solved at the negotiating table and not on the battlefield.” The foreign ministers also discussed the developments in the Middle East at the Council. Foreign Minister Kneissl also gave a statement in the margins of the Council on the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas regarding diplomatic recognition of his country. She emphasised that it is necessary to first achieve results in the Middle East peace process before Palestine could be recognised.
While Foreign Minister Kneissl was in Brussels, she also had some time for bilateral talks with numerous foreign ministers of various EU countries, including Belgium Foreign Minister Didier Reynders and Halbe Zijlstra, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands. She also discussed Austria’s EU Presidency in the second half of 2018 and current developments of Europe’s foreign affairs with Austrian European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.