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In remarks to European Institute of Peace debate, ForMin Aurescu calls for more EU involvement in protracted conflicts

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Bogdan Aurescu

Romania's Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu participated on Monday in a debate on "Seeking resolution to the protracted conflicts in Eastern Europe: How can the EU be more active?," organized by the European Institute of Peace, where he called for greater EU involvement in protracted conflicts, emphasising that "the challenges facing the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood countries affect the security of the entire EU, NATO and OSCE space.

According to a press statement released by Romania's Foreign Ministry (MAE), the debate, which was also attended by Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ann Linde, took place amidst discussions on protracted conflicts that the foreign ministers of the EU member states will have at a Gymnich-type informal meeting to be held in Portugal on May 27, 2021 under the aegis of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In his remarks, Aurescu emphasised that "the challenges facing the countries in the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood affect the security of the entire EU, NATO, and OSCE space, as protracted conflicts are the main source of regional risk and instability."

"Advocating for an increased involvement of the EU in prolonged conflicts, the head of Romanian diplomacy pointed out a series of defining aspects of them. He insisted that the conflicts are not frozen, as evidenced by recent developments in eastern Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, but their settlement is. The persistence of conflicts creates artificial divisions in the societies of the affected states and prevents their normal conduct of decision-making in various strategic areas, while providing fertile ground for corruption, organised crime and a source of instability in the domestic policy of the respective countries," reads the statement.

At the same time, Aurescu underscored the need for the EU to intensify its efforts to contribute to the lasting settlement of protracted conflicts and to develop case-by-case tools, including co-operation and complementariness with OSCE, as more consistent involvement of the EU is needed to give a stronger impetus to the conflict resolution process.

The Romanian foreign minister also pointed out that, given the evolving challenges posed by protracted conflicts, they can easily spread to other EU and OSCE member states, and it is essential that the EU use all existing mechanisms and instruments in a systemic approach to drive their settlement.

"He mentioned the role of OSCE in the process of resolving protracted conflicts, as well as the complementariness between the EU and OSCE on this dimension, welcoming the priority attached to the issue by the Swedish OSCE Chairmanship," according to MAE.

MAE also says that in order to increase the EU's contribution to the resolution of protracted conflicts, Aurescu mentioned some concrete ideas and points of reflection that could be taken into account: "the need for better coordination between the EU institutions and member states involved in various negotiating formats; making effective use of the opportunities offered by the European Peace Facility; improving strategic communication; strengthening and energising the Eastern Partnership, including by adding a dimension of security and societal resilience to co-operation with Eastern Neighbourhood partners; establishing an EU special representative to manage at EU level protracted conflicts in the Black Sea region."

Aurescu also used this opportunity to reiterate Romania's support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia within the internationally recognized borders, emphasising the importance of meeting international commitments, following principles of international law and democratic values.

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