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Minister Logar endorses revised proposal for the Strategic Compass and calls for diplomatic solution to tensions in Russia

Minister of Foreign Affairs Anže Logar took part in an informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers (Gymnich), which was held in Brest, France. The ministers focused their discussions on the security situation in Eastern Europe and relations between the EU and China. They also resumed their political debate on the Strategic Compass.

The Gymnich meeting opened with a joint session of foreign and defence ministers, during which they continued their political debate on the Strategic Compass based on its first revised version that had been prepared following the discussions within the Council of the EU and the European Council towards the end of the Slovenian Presidency. In this context, they focused on rapid response forces, more flexible decision-making procedures, and response to hybrid threats. They brought to the fore the level of ambition issue, geopolitical matters, and some conceptual issues, such as the integral approach. Minister Logar endorsed the revised proposal for the Strategic Compass, reaffirming Slovenia’s support for strengthening the response effectiveness, developing a unified response to hybrid threats, and upgrading partnerships. As well as more effective decision-making, closer cooperation with NATO, the earliest possible adoption of the third joint declaration between the EU and NATO, and the stability and integration of the Western Balkans, remain crucial for Slovenia. A new, revised version of the document will be prepared based on the additional proposals outlined by the ministers with a view to its final adoption by the European Council in March.

The foreign ministers went on to discuss the precarious security situation brought about by the build-up of Russian armed forces along the Ukrainian border and Russia's increasingly aggressive stance on Ukraine, which had been hit by a significant cyberattack right on the eve of the meeting. The ministers agreed on the need for solidarity with Ukraine and a strong call by the Russian Federation for de-escalation. In the contrary case, the EU will respond accordingly in line with the European Council conclusions adopted in December 2021. The ministers also exchanged views on Belarus and hybrid attacks launched by Alexander Lukashenko on EU member states, and the latest developments in Kazakhstan.

Minister Logar underlined the need to find a diplomatic solution to the tensions and put an end to their escalation by the Russian Federation. He stressed that any further escalation of the situation would require the adoption of a coordinated response with international partners. He also stressed the imperative for the EU to be involved in the discussions and that its member states maintain a coordinated approach within various international organisations, namely NATO and the OSCE.

The ministers also took time to touch on the situation in Mali, discussing the possibility to impose restrictive measures against representatives of the interim authorities holding back the transition. The issue will be further discussed by the Council working groups. High Representative Josep Borrell briefed the ministers on the state of play of the eighth round of talks on the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA).

During the strategic discussion on EU-China relations, the ministers discussed the possibility to adopt a multi-faceted approach towards China, according to which China is simultaneously a partner, an economic competitor and a systemic rival. They also exchanged views on the EU's response to China's increasingly active role in the multilateral system, where China is progressively promoting its vision of the world and multilateralism itself within the UN. The meeting closed with a working lunch hosted by France, the current holder of the EU Council Presidency, during which the foreign ministers had the opportunity to discuss relations between the European and African Unions with the Senegalese Foreign Minister Aïssata Tall Sall and the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki. Their talks focused on the preparations for the sixth EU-AU Summit to be held on 17 and 18 February 2022 in Brussels. Particular focus was placed on the opportunities to further upgrade strategic links and partnership between the two Unions.