On 10 January 2020, Brussels hosted the extraordinary session of the Foreign Affairs Council at which the European Union Member States’ Foreign Ministers discussed the evolving situation in Iraq and Iran and the need for a de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East, as well as the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, supported a strong mandate for Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to speak on behalf of the EU, as well as considering the possibility of opening an EU delegation in Teheran.
Iraq’s stability must be supported to counter ISIS, said Edgars Rinkēvičs, urging consideration of a new line in diplomatic efforts while maintaining the agreement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran’s nuclear deal, and also giving thought to other elements, for instance, the ballistic missiles programme.
Planning and implementing attacks on diplomatic missions and the forces of the Global Coalition To Defeat ISIS deployed on a mission to train Iraqi security forces is unacceptable, Edgars Rinkēvičs noted. While being aware of U.S. concerns over Iran’s aggressive foreign policy and destabilizing regional activities, we believe that de-escalation is of utmost importance at this point in order to preserve the fragile balance of forces in the region. An eventual solution to the growing differences of opinion, including as regards the Iran’s nuclear deal, as well as Iran’s ballistic missiles and its aggressive policy, should be achieved through political dialogue, said the Foreign Minister.
The Minister also called on the EU to stand firm for an objective and transparent investigation into the crash of a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 passenger aircraft on 8 January, in which 176 people lost their lives.