Saturday

17th Apr 2021

EU summit to hold 'surprising' Russia sanctions debate

  • Polish minister said he's ready to take Italy to task for Renzi's decision (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU leaders will, this week, on Italy’s request debate whether to extend Russia sanctions, in a move called “surprising” by Poland.

Paolo Gentiloni, the Italian foreign minister, told press in Brussels on Monday (14 December): “This is on the table for the European Council on 17 and 18 December and, frankly, I don’t foresee a big discussion.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He added: “Nobody is ‘for’ or ‘against’ sanctions. It’s not a matter of principle. We’ve all said the decision on roll-over of sanctions should be taken according to the assessment of Minsk protocol implementation … I think this is what the Europan Council will do.”

Gentiloni spoke after Italy, last week, blocked EU ambassadors from extending Russia economic sanctions for six months.

Diplomatic sources say the instructions came directly from Italian PM Matteo Renzi’s office.

The Minsk ceasefire accord, signed by Russia, says all “foreign armed formations” must leave Ukraine and that Ukraine must get back control of its border.

But UN, Nato, and EU assessments say neither of the conditions has been met.

For his part, the Polish foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, a Russia hawk, said that if Gentiloni mentions sanctions at Monday’s ministerial event, then he'll ask why Renzi said No.

“The Minsk accords haven’t been implemented, so I’m surprised that Italy wants to raise the question of sanctions,” he said.

The Belgian, Lithuanian, and Swedish foreign ministers told press sanctions should be extended.

EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini, who is coordinating the joint EU position, said she expects leaders to endorse the roll-over. “I don’t see any problems in major [EU] states on the political decision,” she said.

For its part, the European Commission had also planned, on Tuesday, to publish a report recommending that EU countries grant visa-free travel to Ukraine next year.

A commission spokesman, on Monday, declined to confirm or deny reports that the recommendation, like the Russia sanctions decision, is to be postponed until after the EU summit.

But he noted that Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko will be in Brussels on Wednesday to take stock of relations.

The EU commissioner in charge of Ukraine ties, Johannes Hahan, said on Monday it’s “possible and realistic” that EU capitals will in 2016 endorse the visa-free step, which he described as being important for “peace and stability in the region.”

Slovak FM Miroslav Lajcak noted: “I don’t see any obstacles, anyone wishing to spoil the process.”

But Luxembourg FM Jean Asselborn, whose country holds the EU presidency, urged Kiev to speed up anti-corruption reforms.

Turkey-Russia confrontation

The foreign ministers will, on Monday, also discuss: counter-terrorism cooperation; Libya unity government talks; and Burundi violence.

They'll meet with Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, over lunch to discuss the war in Syria.

The meeting comes amid an ongoing confrontation between Russia and Turkey.

Turkey, last month, shot down a Russian jet it said violated its airspace. A Russian ship, over the weekend, fired warning shots at a Turkish fishing boat in the Aegean Sea.

“Our patience has a limit,” Cavusoglu told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview out Monday.

Russia is accusing the family of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of buying oil from Islamic State (IS) in Syria in violation of UN sanctions.

The Belgian and Luxembourg foreign ministers said Monday they'll urge Cavusoglu to clamp down on IS financial flows.

They also said Turkey should do more to seal its border with Syria to stop “foreign fighters,” radicalised EU nationals, from going back and forth.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us