Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu attended a meeting of EU heads of diplomats in Brussels on Monday, expressing “concern” over security developments on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia, “which is of concern at European and Euro-Atlantic level”, with effects on the Black Sea region, according to a Foreign Ministry (MAE) release sent to AGERPRES.
Aurescu called for “an appropriate response from the EU, which must remain united and firm, and the necessity to send a clear message about the actions of escalation, respectively the examination of options for EU action, including sanctions if necessary, in case Russia continues to escalate the situation.” He also stressed that the EU must support the right of any state to choose the course of its foreign and security policy.
European foreign ministers also discussed the internal situation in Belarus and the instrumentalisation of migration by the Minsk regime on the EU’s eastern border. Regarding the management of the migration situation, Aurescu stressed the importance of continuing the steps in relation to the countries of origin and transit in order to prevent possible increases in the number of migrants in Belarus.
At the same time, the Romanian official reminded that the internal situation in Belarus, which continues to deteriorate, must be constantly kept in mind.
Bogdan Aurescu emphasized the importance of keeping developments in Belarus on the EU agenda and in this regard particularly appreciated the interaction he had with the representatives of the opposition in this country, on Sunday. On that occasion, he reiterated his concern about the deteriorating internal situation in Belarus, the continuing serious human rights violations, and welcomed the country’s aspirations and commitment to democratic values and civil liberties. The minister of foreign affairs stated that Romania intends to make a second voluntary contribution through the European Endowment for Democracy, after the 100,000 euros in 2020, for the support of independent media and civil society, respectively to the International Accountability Platform for Belarus, as well as further providing scholarships for students persecuted by the Lukashenko regime. He also recalled the 2020 initiative of President Klaus Iohannis, together with his Polish and Lithuanian counterparts, to establish a Support Plan for a Democratic Belarus, which was then developed by the European Commission and made public in May 2021.
Discussions on EU-Africa relations took place ahead of the summit scheduled for February 17-18, 2022. Minister Aurescu welcomed the adoption of sanctions on the Wagner group, which take into account both its destabilizing actions in Africa and in relation to Ukraine.
Minister Bogdan Aurescu voiced a greater involvement of the EU in Central Asia, given its relevance from the perspective of the Union’s foreign policy objectives, based on the strategy adopted during Romania’s presidency of the EU Council (2019), which provides the right framework for the development of these relationships. He pointed out that the EU and the states in the region share common risks, but also significant development potential, stressing that the EU must support increasing their resilience.
On the sidelines of the Brussels meeting, Bogdan Aurescu, along with other EU counterparts, attended an informal working breakfast with Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, on geopolitical issues.
At the same time, within the EAC, he participated in a working lunch of the European Foreign Ministers with the chief diplomat of the State of Qatar.