At an informal meeting of European Union’s foreign ministers on 5-6 March in Córdoba (Spain), Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis and his counterparts discussed the shaping of the new European External Action Service, the EU’s relations with large emerging economies, as well as the situation in the Middle East.
During the meeting, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton presented the preparation for the establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS) to the ministers. It was agreed on the necessity to establish the EEAS and to support the High Representative.
“We cannot miss the opportunity of creating a strong European service, a unique institution, an instrument that is designed for shaping common EU foreign policy and that is based not only on geo-economic goals, but also on common European values,” Minister A.Ažubalis said.
According to the Minister, it is not High Representative’s task but EU foreign ministers’ job to give a meaning to the European External Action Service or to find its place in Europe.
“We have to discuss the EEAS activities with C.Ashton at least once every two months, to organize joint visits of foreign ministers to the regions where we have gained major experience,” head of Lithuania’s diplomacy stressed.
In the opinion of Minister A.Ažubalis, it is important for the newly created European External Action Service to be a common service of all EU member states, at least one-third of its employees have to be representatives from EU member states.
“Delegated Lithuanian diplomats would later return to the Lithuanian diplomatic service and would enrich it with their experience,” the Minister said.
In the Minister’s opinion, the newly created European External Action Service would also have to complement the Lithuanian diplomatic service: for example, it would contribute to ensuring Lithuanian citizens’ rights in those countries, where Lithuania has no diplomatic representations.
Minister A.Ažubalis noted that these principles were important also for other smaller EU countries. The Minister and foreign ministers of other three EU countries (Cyprus, Latvia and Slovenia) signed a joint letter, which invites the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to take into account the above-mentioned suggestions.
During the meeting, the ministers also discussed the EU’s relations with large emerging economies, such as Brazil, China, and India, and noted the need to involve them into a more active solution of global issues.
Accorign to Minister A.Ažubalis, as the political and economic role of these EU strategic partners was becoming more and more important, they also had to assume an appropriate responsibility: to responsibly contribute to the solution of such global issues as the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, climate change or Afghanistan.
“Currently, Lithuania is the only country among the EU member states, which has acquired the experience of cooperation with third countries in Afghanistan, namely with Japan. The EU should make greater effort to involve China, India and other emerging economies into the solution of problems in Afghanistan,” the Minister said.
Ministers discussed the situation in the Middle East and the possible role of the EU in the region, as well as the new suggestions made by U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell for resuming peace talks.
Minister A.Ažubalis emphasized that Lithuania supported the EU’s position on the Middle East peace process and had consistently spoken up for the existence of two states, one Israeli and one Palestinian, alongside each other. Lithuania supports the suggestion of U.S. Special Envoy G.Mitchell for resuming peace talks and calls on Israel and the Palestinians to immediately start peace talks.
Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Of The Republic Of Lithuania