(L-R) Xavier Bettel, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Cooperation, Foreign Trade and for the Greater Region, Luxembourg; Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, EEAS; Credit: EU

Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Xavier Bettel, participated in the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council (EAC) of the Council of the EU, which was held on Monday 19 February 2024 in Brussels.

After an informal exchange with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, the ministers had an in-depth discussion on the situation in the Middle East, followed by an exchange with United Nations Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag.

Ministers agreed on the “absolute need to ensure immediate, sustained and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza”, Luxembourg’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Defence, Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade noted. Minister Bettel expressed great concern about the announcement of a ground offensive by the Israeli army in Rafah, recalling that the population in Gaza cannot flee anywhere. The head of Luxembourg diplomacy warned against such an attack, which would further aggravate the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Ministers then discussed the EU's continued support for Ukraine, having been briefed via video conference by their Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, on the latest developments on the ground. As the second anniversary of the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine draws near, Minister Bettel reiterated Luxembourg's unfailing support for Ukraine, whether in terms of political, humanitarian or military support.

In the presence of Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of political opponent Alexei Navalny, who died in a Russian prison, the minister expressed his condolences to the Navalny family: "This sad news reminds us that Vladimir Putin's regime does not only cause victims in Ukraine but also in his own country. I am thinking today of his family as well as of all Russian political prisoners, who are fighting for a free and democratic Russia," declared Minister Bettel.

Finally, the Foreign Affairs Council also provided an opportunity to discuss the action of the European Union in the Sahel.