EU 3091st Council meeting on Southern Neighbourhood Region

The Coun­cil dis­cussed the South­ern Neigh­bour­hood Region in the light of the lat­est devel­op­ments in Syr­ia, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia, as well as Moroc­co and Jor­dan.
It adopt­ed the fol­low­ing con­clu­sions:


“1. The EU con­demns in the strongest terms the ongo­ing repres­sion in Syr­ia and the unac­cept­able vio­lence used by the mil­i­tary and secu­ri­ty forces against peace­ful pro­tes­tors which have lead to hun­dreds of fatal­i­ties and many more peo­ple being injured. Those respon­si­ble for this vio­lence should be held account­able. The EU express­es it con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims and salutes the courage of the Syr­i­an people.

2. The EU urges the Syr­i­an lead­er­ship to agree and grant access to an urgent mis­sion of the Office of the High Com­mis­sion­er for Human Rights to the coun­try, as request­ed by the Unit­ed Nations Human Rights Coun­cil on 29 April.

3. The EU is deeply con­cerned at con­tin­u­ing mass arrests, intim­i­da­tions and instances of tor­ture and calls for their imme­di­ate halt. The EU calls for the imme­di­ate release of all those arrest­ed for their par­tic­i­pa­tion in peace­ful protests, as well as of all polit­i­cal pris­on­ers and human rights defend­ers. Syr­ia must abide by its inter­na­tion­al com­mit­ments, in par­tic­u­lar its oblig­a­tions under the Inter­na­tion­al Covenant on Civ­il and Polit­i­cal Rights and uphold the right to peace­ful assem­bly and free­dom of expres­sion. The EU is equal­ly con­cerned by the refusal of the Syr­i­an author­i­ties to grant access to for­eign media to report freely on the unfold­ing events in the coun­try. It also con­demns the arrests and intim­i­da­tions of Syr­i­an jour­nal­ists by the authorities.

4. The EU is deeply trou­bled by the mil­i­tary clo­sure of a num­ber of cities, such as Der­aa, Banias and Homs and by report­ed hin­drance of access to med­ical treat­ments and to basic ser­vices. The EU calls on the Syr­i­an Gov­ern­ment to guar­an­tee free and inde­pen­dent access to human­i­tar­i­an organ­i­sa­tions and pro­vi­sion of human­i­tar­i­an aid to these areas and to ful­ly respect human­i­tar­i­an principles. 

5. The EU urges the Syr­i­an author­i­ties to respond to the legit­i­mate demands of the Syr­i­an peo­ple by launch­ing an inclu­sive and gen­uine nation­al dia­logue and by imple­ment­ing with­out delay and through a con­crete timetable, mean­ing­ful polit­i­cal reforms. This is the only way to ini­ti­ate a peace­ful tran­si­tion to democ­ra­cy and pro­vide sta­bil­i­ty for Syr­ia in the long term.

6. As part of the ongo­ing review of all aspects of its coop­er­a­tion with Syr­ia, the EU has decid­ed to sus­pend all prepa­ra­tions in rela­tion to new bilat­er­al coop­er­a­tion pro­grams and to sus­pend the ongo­ing bilat­er­al pro­grams with the Syr­i­an author­i­ties under ENPI and MEDA instru­ments. The EU Mem­ber States stand ready to review their bilat­er­al coop­er­a­tion in this regard. The Coun­cil invites the EIB to not approve new EIB financ­ing oper­a­tions in Syr­ia for the time being. The EU will con­sid­er the sus­pen­sion of fur­ther Com­mu­ni­ty assis­tance to Syr­ia in light of developments.

7. The EU recalls that it will not take fur­ther steps with regard to the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with Syr­ia and there­fore the sign­ing of the Agree­ment is not on the agenda.

8. On the 9th of May the EU decid­ed to impose restric­tive mea­sures against Syr­ia and per­sons respon­si­ble for the vio­lent repres­sion against the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion with a view to achiev­ing a fun­da­men­tal change of pol­i­cy by the Syr­i­an lead­er­ship with­out delay. The Coun­cil has decid­ed to fur­ther strength­en these restric­tive mea­sures by des­ig­nat­ing addi­tion­al per­sons, includ­ing at the high­est lev­el of lead­er­ship. The EU is deter­mined to take fur­ther mea­sures with­out delay should the Syr­i­an lead­er­ship choose not to change swift­ly its cur­rent path. ” 


“1. The EU remains grave­ly con­cerned by the seri­ous sit­u­a­tion in Libya and reit­er­ates its call for full imple­men­ta­tion of UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tions (UNSCR) 1970 and 1973. Recall­ing its pre­vi­ous Con­clu­sions on this issue the Coun­cil once more under­lines that the ces­sa­tion of vio­lence and the pro­tec­tion of civil­ians, includ­ing through unhin­dered human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance, remains the top priority.

2. The Coun­cil wel­comes the first two meet­ings of the Con­tact Group on Libya, held respec­tive­ly in Doha on 13 April and in Rome on 5 May, and looks for­ward to the third meet­ing of the Con­tact Group in the UAE. It wel­comes the empha­sis of the Chairs’ Con­clu­sions on the need to inten­si­fy the polit­i­cal, mil­i­tary and eco­nom­ic pres­sure on the Kad­hafi regime in ful­fil­ment of UNSCRs 1970 and 1973. The Coun­cil reit­er­ates its call for an imme­di­ate and gen­uine cease­fire, the fact that Colonel Kad­hafi has lost legit­i­ma­cy and that he must relin­quish pow­er imme­di­ate­ly. Colonel Kad­hafi remains a threat to the Libyan peo­ple. The Coun­cil wel­comes and sup­ports the role of the UN Spe­cial Envoy for Libya as the focal point for the polit­i­cal tran­si­tion process and reaf­firms the need for the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to work with and through him in order to inten­si­fy the efforts towards an inclu­sive polit­i­cal solu­tion. The Coun­cil under­lines the impor­tance of coop­er­a­tion with inter­na­tion­al and region­al part­ners, in par­tic­u­lar the coop­er­a­tion by the HR on behalf of the EU with the Unit­ed Nations, League of Arab States, African Union, Organ­i­sa­tion of the Islam­ic Con­fer­ence and Gulf Coop­er­a­tion Coun­cil, fol­low­ing the meet­ing in Cairo on 14 April.

3. The EU is deter­mined to con­tin­ue to active­ly sup­port human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance efforts to the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion as well as to refugees who fled to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries and the repa­tri­a­tion of third coun­try nation­als. The EU stands ready to step up efforts in this regard. It recog­nis­es the bur­den on and par­tic­u­lar role of neigh­bour­ing countries.

4. The EU reit­er­ates that, if request­ed by UN OCHA, it will con­duct a CSDP oper­a­tion “EUFOR Libya” to sup­port human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance in the region, in full respect of the prin­ci­ples gov­ern­ing human­i­tar­i­an action, par­tic­u­lar­ly impar­tial­i­ty and neu­tral­i­ty. The EU has been prepar­ing EUFOR, in close coop­er­a­tion and com­ple­men­tar­i­ty with the UN, NATO and oth­ers, in order to be able to react quick­ly to devel­op­ments as regards the human­i­tar­i­an and secu­ri­ty situation. 

5. The Coun­cil denounces the con­tin­u­ing repres­sion and grave vio­la­tions of human rights and inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law against civil­ians by the Kad­hafi regime includ­ing acts of sex­u­al vio­lence, the use of sea mines, use of clus­ter muni­tions, and shelling of human­i­tar­i­an boats. Those respon­si­ble for these vio­la­tions will be held account­able. In this respect, the Coun­cil wel­comes the first Report to the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil by the Pros­e­cu­tor of the Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court on the Kad­hafi regime’s crimes against human­i­ty and war crimes. It also under­lines the sig­nif­i­cance of the request by the Pros­e­cu­tor for arrest war­rants against the three indi­vid­u­als it con­sid­ers most respon­si­ble for crimes against human­i­ty: Colonel Kad­hafi, Saif al Islam Kad­hafi and Abdul­lah al-Sanus­si, as well as the con­tin­ued inves­ti­ga­tions of the sit­u­a­tion in Libya, includ­ing of war crimes. This request also sends a sig­nal to those who sup­port the Kad­hafi regime to dis­so­ci­ate them­selves from it and its crimes.

6. The Coun­cil has decid­ed to inten­si­fy its efforts to block access of resources and fund­ing to the Kad­hafi regime, with the nec­es­sary human­i­tar­i­an exemp­tions. In par­tic­u­lar, the EU will con­tin­ue its efforts to pre­vent the regime from replen­ish­ing its mil­i­tary arse­nal and from recruit­ing mercenaries.

7. The Coun­cil stress­es the impor­tant role played by the Tran­si­tion­al Nation­al Coun­cil (TNC) as a key polit­i­cal inter­locu­tor rep­re­sent­ing the aspi­ra­tions of the Libyan peo­ple. The EU sup­ports the TNC efforts to ful­fil its respon­si­bil­i­ties vis-à-vis the Libyan pop­u­la­tion, notably to respond to essen­tial social, eco­nom­ic and admin­is­tra­tive needs in accor­dance with the rel­e­vant UNSCR. In this respect, it wel­comes the estab­lish­ment of a Tem­po­rary Finan­cial Mech­a­nism (TFM) that should pro­vide a trans­par­ent chan­nel for short-term finan­cial sup­port and struc­tur­al needs. The EU offers to assist it with tech­ni­cal exper­tise and invites part­ners to also con­tribute to the TFM.

The Coun­cil recog­nis­es the need to explore legal pos­si­bil­i­ties of using frozen Libyan assets for the pur­pose of address­ing the human­i­tar­i­an needs of the Libyan pop­u­la­tion, with­in the frame­work of UNSCRs.

8. The Coun­cil wel­comes the ini­tia­tive by HR/VP Ash­ton to open a tech­ni­cal EU office in Beng­hazi, in order to fos­ter EU assis­tance in coor­di­na­tion with Mem­ber States and oth­er actors and as a sig­nal of EU sol­i­dar­i­ty with the Libyan peo­ple. Reaf­firm­ing the prin­ci­ple of ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty and uni­ty of Libya the EU will open a Del­e­ga­tion in Tripoli as already fore­seen before the out­break of the cri­sis, as soon as cir­cum­stances allow.

9. The EU stands ready, as soon as con­di­tions allow, to mobi­lize its instru­ments, includ­ing the ENPI, to sup­port the Libyan peo­ple in their effort to build a pros­per­ous and demo­c­ra­t­ic state, based on the respect for human rights, fun­da­men­tal free­doms and the rule of law.” 


“The Coun­cil remains seri­ous­ly con­cerned by the sit­u­a­tion in Bahrain. The Euro­pean Union is par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cerned about the immi­nent risk of exe­cu­tion of two Bahrai­ni nation­als recent­ly sen­tenced to death. The EU is firm­ly opposed to the death penal­ty in all cir­cum­stances and calls on the Bahrai­ni author­i­ties to rein­state the de fac­to mora­to­ri­um on cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment that pre­vailed until 2006. These death sen­tences risk fur­ther exac­er­bat­ing recent ten­sions in Bahrain; as such, they present an obsta­cle to nation­al rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. The Euro­pean Union strong­ly encour­ages Bahrain to ensure full respect for human rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms, includ­ing free­dom of expres­sion, and account­abil­i­ty regard­ing alle­ga­tions of human rights vio­la­tions includ­ing report­ed cas­es of tor­ture and ill-treat­ment. The EU also encour­ages fair and trans­par­ent admin­is­tra­tion of jus­tice includ­ing in cas­es involv­ing charges against med­ical pro­fes­sion­als. Access for inde­pen­dent observers to ongo­ing legal pro­ceed­ings should be allowed.

The EU wel­comes the decree issued by King Hamad of Bahrain, accord­ing to which the state of emer­gency will be lift­ed on 1 June. We look for­ward to the prac­ti­cal actions which will sup­port this move.

The EU once again urges all par­ties to engage rapid­ly in mean­ing­ful dia­logue with a view to bring­ing about reforms which offer real prospects for suc­cess­ful­ly address­ing the country’s challenges.” 


“The Euro­pean Union is fol­low­ing events in Yemen with extreme con­cern. The EU con­demns Pres­i­dent Saleh’s repeat­ed fail­ure to sign up to the GCC spon­sored ini­tia­tive. This is despite agree­ment by all the polit­i­cal par­ties includ­ing the rul­ing par­ty and the relent­less efforts of the Gulf Coop­er­a­tion Coun­cil and its Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al. Those efforts have the full back­ing of the EU. The EU appre­ci­ates the con­struc­tive response from the oppo­si­tion to the GCC ini­tia­tive and remains com­mit­ted to an inclu­sive process, in the inter­ests of the Yemeni peo­ple. The EU calls on Pres­i­dent Saleh to fol­low through on his com­mit­ment to trans­fer pow­er now.

The EU deplores the fail­ure by Pres­i­dent Saleh and the Yemeni secu­ri­ty forces to ensure safe pas­sage of diplo­mats from the Embassy of the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates in Sana’a on 22 May, includ­ing the GCC Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al and GCC, EU, Unit­ed King­dom and Unit­ed States Ambas­sadors. This con­tra­dicts Yemen’s respon­si­bil­i­ties under the Vien­na Con­ven­tion on diplo­mat­ic relations.

All use of vio­lence against peace­ful pro­test­ers must stop imme­di­ate­ly. The EU sup­ports the pro­posed vis­it of the Office of the High Com­mis­sion­er for Human Rights which should serve as a first step towards assess­ing the human rights sit­u­a­tion and help­ing Yemen to ensure account­abil­i­ty. Fur­ther dete­ri­o­ra­tion in Yemen’s eco­nom­ic and human­i­tar­i­an sit­u­a­tion is seri­ous­ly affect­ing the Yemeni peo­ple and under­lines the need for a polit­i­cal settlement.

The Coun­cil and the EU Mem­ber States will review their poli­cies towards Yemen and pre­pare their response to devel­op­ments accord­ing­ly.” Mid­dle East Peace Process

The Coun­cil exchanged views on the Mid­dle East Peace Process and adopt­ed the fol­low­ing conclusions:

“1. The fun­da­men­tal changes across the Arab world have made the need for progress on the Mid­dle East Peace Process all the more urgent. Recent events have indeed shown the neces­si­ty of heed­ing the legit­i­mate aspi­ra­tions of peo­ples in the region, includ­ing those of Pales­tini­ans for state­hood, and of Israelis for security.

2. The EU is deeply con­cerned about the con­tin­u­ing stale­mate in the Peace Process and calls for the urgent resump­tion of direct nego­ti­a­tions lead­ing to a com­pre­hen­sive solu­tion on all tracks. Our goal remains a just and last­ing res­o­lu­tion to the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian con­flict, with the State of Israel and an inde­pen­dent, demo­c­ra­t­ic, con­tigu­ous, sov­er­eign and viable State of Pales­tine, liv­ing side by side in peace and secu­ri­ty and mutu­al recog­ni­tion. A way must be found through nego­ti­a­tions to resolve the sta­tus of Jerusalem as the future cap­i­tal of two States. Recall­ing the Berlin Dec­la­ra­tion, the EU reit­er­ates its readi­ness to rec­og­nize a Pales­tin­ian State when appropriate.

3. The EU believes that nego­ti­a­tions are the best way for­ward, if there is to be a last­ing res­o­lu­tion to the con­flict. The par­ties and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty must con­tribute to the resump­tion of sub­stan­tive talks as a mat­ter of urgency, lead­ing to a frame­work agree­ment by Sep­tem­ber 2011, as agreed by the par­ties and endorsed by the Quar­tet. In this regard the EU wel­comes the recent con­sul­ta­tions between the par­ties and the Quar­tet envoys.

4. The EU believes that clear para­me­ters defin­ing the basis for nego­ti­a­tions are key ele­ments for a suc­cess­ful out­come, togeth­er with the avoid­ing of uni­lat­er­al mea­sures and acts on the ground which under­mine con­fi­dence. The Coun­cil wel­comes Pres­i­dent Obama’s speech which sets out impor­tant ele­ments con­tribut­ing to the resump­tion of nego­ti­a­tions. The EU has set out and will active­ly pro­mote its posi­tion with regard to para­me­ters in Coun­cil Con­clu­sions of Decem­ber 2009 and Decem­ber 2010, and as expressed by the EU in the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil on 21 April 2011. On this basis, it looks for­ward to an ear­ly meet­ing of the Quar­tet Prin­ci­pals to take the process forward.

5. The EU sup­ports the hold­ing of an inter­na­tion­al donors’ con­fer­ence for the Pales­tin­ian State this June in Paris also in view of the resump­tion of negotiations. 

6. The EU has con­sis­tent­ly called for intra-Pales­tin­ian rec­on­cil­i­a­tion behind Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Abbas as an impor­tant ele­ment for the uni­ty of a future Pales­tin­ian state and for reach­ing a two state solu­tion. Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion should also be in the long term inter­est of Israel by help­ing to engage all par­ties in a process lead­ing to a sus­tain­able peace agree­ment. The EU wel­comes that Pales­tin­ian rec­on­cil­i­a­tion has led to the ces­sa­tion of rock­et attacks from the Gaza Strip and insists on the need for a per­ma­nent truce. In this regard, the EU reit­er­ates its call for the lift­ing of Gaza closure.

7. The Coun­cil hopes that this new con­text will favour with­out delay the uncon­di­tion­al release of abduct­ed Israeli sol­dier Gilad Shalit.

8. The EU wel­comes the agree­ment signed in Cairo on 3 May. The Coun­cil com­mends the suc­cess­ful medi­a­tion of the Egypt­ian author­i­ties and encour­ages fur­ther efforts in sup­port of the full imple­men­ta­tion of the agree­ment. The EU wel­comes that Pres­i­dent Abbas, as Chair­man of the PLO, will be the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Pales­tini­ans in peace negotiations.

9. In this con­text, the EU stands ready to reac­ti­vate the EUBAM Rafah Mis­sion, once polit­i­cal and secu­ri­ty con­di­tions allow, in order to ensure the EU third par­ty role at the Rafah cross­ing point, as set out in the 2005 Agree­ment on Move­ment and Access.

10. The EU looks for­ward to con­tin­u­ing its sup­port, includ­ing through direct finan­cial sup­port, for a new Pales­tin­ian gov­ern­ment com­posed of inde­pen­dent fig­ures that com­mits to the prin­ci­ples set out in Pres­i­dent Abbas’ speech on 4 May. Such a gov­ern­ment should uphold the prin­ci­ple of non-vio­lence, and remain com­mit­ted to achiev­ing a two-state solu­tion and to a nego­ti­at­ed peace­ful set­tle­ment of the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian con­flict accept­ing pre­vi­ous agree­ments and oblig­a­tions, includ­ing Israel’s legit­i­mate right to exist. The EU’s ongo­ing engage­ment with a new Pales­tin­ian gov­ern­ment will be based on its adher­ence to these poli­cies and com­mit­ments. The EU calls on the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, Israel, and region­al part­ners to work with the gov­ern­ment on this basis. The EU also looks for­ward to the hold­ing of elections.

11. The EU calls on Israel and the PA to con­tin­ue their coop­er­a­tion in all fields, includ­ing in terms of secu­ri­ty and trans­fer of rev­enues and to abstain from mea­sures that could ham­per progress and fur­ther reforms. 

12. The EU calls on the future Pales­tin­ian gov­ern­ment to con­tin­ue the PA’s insti­tu­tion-build­ing efforts and to uphold cur­rent stan­dards in terms of trans­par­ent and effi­cient pub­lic finance man­age­ment, as con­sis­tent­ly com­mend­ed by the UN, the IMF and the World Bank, most recent­ly dur­ing the AHLC meet­ing host­ed by the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive on 13 April in Brus­sels. The EU wel­comes the out­come of the reports which state that the PA is above the thresh­old for a func­tion­ing state in the key sec­tors stud­ied. In this regard the EU express­es its full appre­ci­a­tion of the cur­rent Government’s suc­cess in imple­ment­ing the state build­ing plan.” 

South Cau­ca­sus

The Coun­cil held an exchange of views on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in the South Cau­ca­sus and a pos­si­ble EU role in the region. It focussed on the need for region­al sta­bil­i­ty and con­flict res­o­lu­tion and the impor­tance of mak­ing full use of the East­ern Part­ner­ship. The dis­cus­sion took place against the back­ground of ris­ing ten­sions in the region, in par­tic­u­lar con­cern­ing Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia. 


The Coun­cil dis­cussed the sit­u­a­tion in Sudan ahead of South Sudan’s dec­la­ra­tion of inde­pen­dence, sched­uled for 9 July 2011. The EU’s com­pre­hen­sive strat­e­gy for Sudan will be pre­sent­ed for endorse­ment at the Coun­cil in June.
Min­is­ters voiced their con­cerns at the recent vio­lence in Abyei and at the sit­u­a­tion in South Kord­o­fan and in Dar­fur. Com­mis­sion­er Piebal­gs report­ed on his recent vis­it to Sudan. 

Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice (EEAS)

Over lunch, the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive led a dis­cus­sion with min­is­ters on coop­er­a­tion between mem­ber state embassies and EU del­e­ga­tions in the field; on coop­er­a­tion between the HR and min­is­ters and on the prepa­ra­tion and con­duct of For­eign Affairs Coun­cil meetings. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Coun­cil dis­cussed the sit­u­a­tion in Bosnia and Herze­gov­ina. The High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive report­ed in par­tic­u­lar on her vis­it to Bosnia and Herze­gov­ina on 13 May. Min­is­ters wel­comed the agree­ment by the Pres­i­dent of Repub­li­ka Srp­s­ka, Milo­rad Dodik, to can­cel the planned ref­er­en­dum and stressed the impor­tance of the Euro­pean per­spec­tive for the future of BiH. 

Human rights

The Coun­cil began dis­cus­sions on the EU’s pri­or­i­ties in con­nec­tion with the review of the EU human rights strat­e­gy that is cur­rent­ly under way. The dis­cus­sion will be con­tin­ued at the next Coun­cil meet­ing, in June, when the strat­e­gy will be pre­sent­ed for adop­tion. The High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive empha­sised that human rights should be incor­po­rat­ed as a sil­ver thread run­ning through all the EU’s activities.

Oth­er business

Belarus as well as Alba­nia (elec­tions) were raised under oth­er business. 

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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