Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs; Credit: MAEE

On Monday 22 February 2021, Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, participated in the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) of the European Union (EU) in Brussels.

At the invitation of Belgium on behalf of the Benelux countries, the European foreign ministers started the day with an informal meeting which allowed them to exchange with Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Minister Jean Asselborn took the opportunity to reiterate Luxembourg's support for a strong and independent ICC. "The Court is an essential institution in the fight against impunity", he highlighted, before thanking the ICC Chief Prosecutor for the efforts undertaken during her mandate to strengthen the protection of women and children in conflicts.

The formal session of the FAC began with a discussion of current international issues. The ministers discussed the situation in Myanmar and Belarus in particular. They also discussed the recent G5 Sahel summit and the latest developments in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Ethiopia and Sudan. In the context of the crisis in the Ethiopian region of Tigray, the ministers insisted on the need to guarantee respect for international humanitarian law and to allow rapid access to humanitarian players who must support vulnerable populations.

The European foreign ministers also took stock of ongoing diplomatic efforts to return to full compliance with the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal.

Subsequently, the ministers had an in-depth discussion on EU-Russia relations, in light of the deterioration of the situation of human rights and the rule of law in Russia and of the recent visit to Moscow by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell. Following the discussion, the High Representative noted that there is a political agreement to activate the EU's mechanism for adopting restrictive measures in response to serious human rights violations. In his speech, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister expressed support for this process while stressing the need to maintain dialogue with Russia on issues of interest to the EU.

The meeting of the FAC was also an opportunity for Minister Jean Asselborn and his European counterparts to have an informal exchange of views, via video conference, with the new United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. The exchange made it possible to identify the means of strengthening the transatlantic partnership to provide lasting solutions to the multiple global and regional crises, favouring a multilateral approach. Minister Jean Asselborn stressed the importance of basing decision-making on facts and supporting multilateralism. Regarding the peace process in the Middle East, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister expressed his hope that a new chapter would be opened: "The European Union and the United States must again cooperate to end violations of international law and to help establish a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, based on the two-state solution". He also called for close consultation on relations with Turkey.

Finally, the ministers had an exchange of views on the situation in Hong Kong.