STOCKHOLM, Sweden, January 17, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The recent violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the armed conflict in South Sudan will be on the agenda for discussion when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on 20 January. The ministers will also prepare for the upcoming peace talks between the parties in Syria and discuss the impact of the conflict on neighbouring countries. Sweden will be represented at the meeting in Brussels by Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt.
So far, the EU’s role in the CAR has consisted of financial support to the African Union’s mission and humanitarian aid. The foreign ministers will discuss the worsened situation in the country and what role the EU should play. The Swedish Government believes that the support of the international community is essential to stabilise the situation in the country. It is particularly important that the African Union’s mission is rapidly in place and able to protect the civilian population. Sweden is one of the EU’s largest bilateral donors of humanitarian support to the country in response to the great needs.
The ministers are also expected to discuss the armed conflict that flared up in South Sudan in December and how the EU can support the ongoing peace negotiations. The Swedish Government is concerned about the developments in South Sudan. The engagement of neighbouring countries and the presence of the parties at negotiations are positive factors. A ceasefire and release of political prisoners should take place immediately. Sweden is providing extensive humanitarian support to South Sudan.
The ministers are also expected to prepare for the Geneva II conference on Syria organised by the United Nations. The purpose of the conference is to allow representatives of the Syrian Government and the various opposition groups to meet. The Swedish Government, which will be represented along with a range of other governments and other actors, welcomes the conference.
The Government emphasises once again that humanitarian law must be respected in Syria and that humanitarian organisations must be given access to conflict areas. The issue of violations of humanitarian law should be raised again in the United Nations Security Council. Other EU countries should also take greater responsibility for receiving and offering resettlement to people fleeing the conflict in Syria. The Government feels increasing concern about the situation in Syria and the consequences the conflict may have for the political situation in neighbouring countries, particularly Lebanon and Iraq.
At the meeting, the ministers are also expected to discuss the situation in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Afghanistan and the status of the peace process in the Middle East. In preparation for the EU-Russia summit on 27-28 January, the ministers are also expected to discuss developments in Russia and the EU’s relations with Russia.
A press conference with Mr Bildt is planned following the meeting on 20 January. Journalists interested in following the press conference remotely are invited to contact Press Secretary Erik Zsiga.
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