When political crises occur in its immediate neighbourhood, Europe is called on to act – while it remains engaged in deepening its relations with Latin America and the Indo-Pacific region. These are, in a nutshell, the wide-ranging issues on the agenda of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 12 October. Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement prior to the meeting:

We will discuss the Navalny case. The violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention must have consequences. Together with France, we have drafted a proposal that we will discuss for the first time today, and we will agree on a way forward.

According to the proposal, sanctions will be imposed on certain individuals in Russia with responsibility for the handling of chemical warfare agents.

Belarus: call for a new sanctions package

There has been no improvement in Belarus in recent weeks. Last week, Foreign Minister Maas met with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in Berlin, with whom he discussed the current situation. After last weekend’s renewed protests, it is becoming clear that the Lukashenko regime is continuing to use violence against peaceful demonstrators. Many of them were arrested, including journalists. Foreign Minister Maas is therefore calling for a new package of sanctions to be assembled by the Foreign Affairs Council. The group of individuals these sanctions would target will now include Lukashenko.

The Indo-Pacific region – the key to tomorrow’s global order

The Indo-Pacific region is becoming ever more important for global economic and security policy. The EU has an interest in ensuring that tomorrow’s international order is rules-based, multilateral and inclusive. The EU is therefore seeking to diversify and deepen its relations with all Indo-Pacific states. With its policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region, the German Government has already laid an important foundation for these efforts. At the Council, Foreign Minister Maas together with France and the Netherlands wants to launch an initiative for a European Indo-Pacific strategy.

The path to normalisation between Serbia and Kosovo

EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák briefs Council participants on the progress that has been achieved since the normalisation dialogue was resumed in July. It is clear to the EU that there can be no simple solutions or quick fixes outside of the dialogue. At the same time, the prospect of joining the EU is a strong motivating factor for both countries, because the two sides’ long-term political and economic future hinges on EU membership. The support that the EU is providing to the region to help it tackle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the EU’s commitment to these countries.