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EU foreign ministers hold talks on Ukraine, Balkans

May 22, 2023

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is expected to join the Brussels meeting via video link. The ministers are also scheduled to speak with the leaders of Western Balkan states intending to join the bloc.

Foreign ministers from left, Kosovo's Donika Gervalla-Schwarz, North Macedonia's Bujar Osmani, Albania's Olta Xhacka, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Bosnia's Elmedin Konakovic, Serbia's Ivica Dacic and Montenegro's Djordje Radulovic pose for a group photo on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, May 22, 2023.
The meeting will see six Western Balkans nations discuss their bids to join the blocImage: Virginia Mayo/AP Photo/picture alliance

The European Union's foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the bloc's foreign policy.

The talks in the Belgian capital are scheduled to last two days, with Russia's war in Ukraine set to be one of the main topics on the agenda.

A key point in the talks is the EU's pledge to provide Ukraine with 1 million artillery shells.

The ministers are to be joined by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who will speak at the meeting via video link.

Borrell welcomes US decision on F-16s to Ukraine

EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell said that the US decision to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets was a "good sign" that Western allies would provide Kyiv with the fighter aircraft it needs to fight Russian forces.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis also hailed the US decision as a "very important step forward."

In statements during the EU foreign ministers meeting, Borrell called on the bloc to end the evasion of the sanctions on Russia. Countries outside the EU have reportedly evaded the sanctions, including Kazakhstan, Armenia and the United Arab Emirates.

What else is on the agenda?

The diplomats also adopted new sanctions against members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard over the regime's crackdown on anti-government protests. The European Council said on Twitter that five individuals and two entities have been the latest targets of the EU's eighth package of sanctions. Their names were added over "human rights violations."

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said ahead of the meeting that the bloc "won't accept" Iranian human rights violations.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is among the top diplomats gathering in BrusselsImage: Virginia Mayo/AP/picture alliance

Also to be discussed is the Western Balkans, which includes six countries that have applied to join the EU. The leaders of Albania, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo are set to meet with EU foreign ministers in the hope of advancing membership talks.

Foreign ministers are also scheduled to address the unrest in Sudan and the situation in the Horn of Africa, which has been hit by severe drought after several failed rainy seasons. 

rmt, zc, sdi/kb (Reuters, dpa)