On Monday, 4 February 2019, the European Union (EU) and the League of Arab States (LAS) held a Ministerial meeting in Brussels in preparation for the first ever EU-LAS Summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, which will occur on 24-25 February 2019. The meeting was co-chaired by Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mohamed Ahmed Al Dirdeiry, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sudan and Chair of the LAS Ministerial Council and Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the LAS.
At the meeting, the Ministers addressed current challenges faced by both Europe and the Arab world, such as migration, terrorism, or climate change. Moreover, they discussed the main Middle Eastern regional issues, such as the war in Libya, the support of a political transition in Syria, the peaceful resolution of the war in Yemen and the recognition of Jerusalem as the future capital of both the state of Israel and Palestine. They expressed their commitment to deepen the Euro-Arab partnership to build peace and stability, guarantee security, foster economic, social and technological development.
During the press conference, after the meeting, Ms. Mogherini highlighted the strong convergence of views between the ministers: “whatever happens in the Arab World affects Europeans and whatever happens in Europe affects the Arab World.” She pointed out that the crucial objective of the EU-LAS relations is to achieve of common solutions to common challenges.
Notwithstanding, Ms. Mogherini remarked with outspokenness that the Ministers have had common ground in 90-95% of the issues they discussed. However, she highlighted that at the end of the meeting the parties did not write a joint statement.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes the spirit of cooperation which characterised the meeting. However, ECDHR condemns the fact that during the meeting human rights issues were addressed to a minor extent, if not totally omitted during the debates. We invite the European Union to include human rights dialogues in every meeting with Middle Eastern countries and regional unions. Hence, we call on the EU to put a spotlight on these issues in view of the upcoming EU-LAS Summit.