L. Linkevičius: European Union can and must play important role in de-escalating tensions in Iraq
On 10 January, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. The Council was briefed on the latest developments in Iraq, including through an exchange with the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, and discussed the role of the EU in de-escalating heightened tensions in the Middle East region.
According to Lithuania’s Foreign Minister, de-escalation of the situation is key, as tensions have already harmed stability and security in Iraq and the region. There are already consequences for the entire Middle East and beyond:
“The European Union can and must play an important and active role in de-escalating tensions in Iraq. We support the efforts made by the High Representative Josep Borrell to de-escalate regional tensions and to stabilize the situation,” said L. Linkevičius. He also stressed that the European Union should maintain its transatlantic link when seeking a diplomatic solution to this situation.
According to the Foreign Minister, terrorism poses a threat to us all. We cannot allow ISIS to recover in the region. It is therefore essential to continue an intensive dialogue with Iraq in the context of these events:
“We need to send a clear message to Iraq about the general risk that the withdrawal of allied forces could have a negative impact on the security situation in Iraq and the region”, said Lithuania’s Foreign Minister.
The Council also discussed recent developments in Libya, including the military escalation and increasingly complex humanitarian situation in the country. EU Foreign Ministers also had the opportunity to be briefed by the UN Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya Ghassan Salamé. Lithuania supports the UN mediation efforts and peace processes in Libya.
In Brussels, the Foreign Minister also met with the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi, voiced his support for the EU’s ambitious Eastern Partnership policy, highlighted threats to the EU’s eastern wing emanating Russia and the conflicts it had caused. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister invited Olivér Várhelyi to attend the Conference on Reforms in Ukraine in Vilnius in July. In the meeting, L. Linkevičius also highlighted the importance of making a decision on the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania by the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb in May 2020.