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ForMin Aurescu attends EU foreign ministers meeting discussing distribution of COVID vaccines, Navalny case

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Bogdan Aurescu

Romania's Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu participated on Monday in a meeting of the European Union heads of diplomacy that touched on a strategy for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to countries outside the EU, the Navaly case and recent protests in Russia, transatlantic relations, recent developments in Turkey, the Gulf region, Hong Kong, Venezuela, the EU-Egypt relationship, according to Romania's Foreign Ministry (MAE).

The foreign ministers also addressed climate diplomacy and EU-UK relations in the field of foreign and security policy in an informal lunch discussion.

Aurescu also made a presentation of the recent developments in the establishment and hosting by Romania of the Euro-Atlantic Resilience Centre (E-ARC).

At the same time, the heads of European diplomacy had an informal exchange of views with the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Toshimitsu Motegi.

According to the MAE, Aurescu reiterated support for the creation of a mechanism to support neighbouring countries in procuring COVID vaccines, emphasising the importance of solidarity, as well as the fact that the EU's health security depends on that of the extended region. He also underscored the need for the EU to support partner countries in the field of strategic communication to combat misinformation about pandemic control and COVID vaccination.

Regarding the Navalny case, the Romanian official condemned his arrest again and joined the other European foreign ministers who demanded his release as soon as possible. He referred to the very recent "undemocratic" actions of the Russian authorities to repress freedom of expression and peaceful protests. Aurescu reiterated the need for a uniform, principled and coordinated approach of the EU dialogue with Russia, which entails that any contacts of European officials with the Russian authorities must be prepared thoroughly, transparently and in accordance with the interests and principles of the common European policy.

Regarding transatlantic relations, Aurescu expressed Romania's strong support for the EU's goal of deepening coordination and dialogue with the United States.

In a conversation with the Japanese foreign minister, he welcomed Japan's Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision and voiced agreement with its goals of a rules-based international order, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Aurescu expressed Romania's support for a strategic EU approach for the Indo-Pacific region developed in synergy with partners with shared interests, such as the US, Japan, Australia, India and ASEAN.

He pointed out that achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement and achieving tangible results at this year's COP 26 meeting requires coherent European action coordinated with the efforts of partner countries and depends fundamentally on capitalising on international partnerships with major strategic allies, as well as on co-operation with other developing countries. He also reiterated the importance of the US decision to return as a party to the Paris Agreement.

He also underscored that the EU's approach must be realistic and adjusted for the specific individual contexts of third countries, including those in the Eastern Partnership, in particular as regards the calibration of the EU reform and rule of law expectations, on the one hand, and those in the areas of energy and climate transition, on the other hand.

Aurescu unveiled Romania's initiative on the establishment and hosting of the Euro-Atlantic Resilience Centre (E-ARC) in Bucharest. In the first stage, it will operate as a national institution under the authority of MAE, and it will be open to the participation of other EU member states, NATO or partner countries wishing to join the initiative, to coordinate the actions and good practices of all relevant actors.

At the informal lunch, the head of Romanian diplomacy welcomed the first exchange of views on the future framework of the EU-UK co-operation on foreign and security policy, underlining the need for in-depth internal reflection with the constant involvement of the EU foreign ministers.

"At the same time, he emphasised that it would be the UK's option to call for a formal framework for co-operation in this area. Bogdan Aurescu said there were already a number of areas where both the EU and the UK had common policy interests and objectives. He also showed that the United Kingdom remains a major partner of the EU's, in which relationship the EU must preserve a uniform approach and co-operation in the field of foreign and security policy. He emphasised that it would be important not to have variable or even competing formats that could affect the coherence of the European Union's co-operation with the United Kingdom in relevant foreign and security policy areas," MAE also points out.

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