EU: Solidarity to Greece and Cyprus – The European Council conclusions

The European Council reiterated its full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, whose sovereignty and sovereign rights must be respected. EU leaders stressed that the EU has a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey.

“Pursuing dialogue in good faith and abstaining from unilateral actions which run counter to the EU interests and violate international law and the sovereign rights of EU member states is an absolute requirement in this regard. All differences must be resolved through peaceful dialogue and in accordance with international law.”

European Council conclusions

EU leaders welcomed the recent confidence-building steps by Greece and Turkey and the announcement that they will resume their exploratory talks. At the same time, they strongly condemned violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and called on Turkey to accept the invitation by Cyprus to engage in dialogue.

Provided constructive efforts to stop illegal activities vis-à-vis Greece and Cyprus are sustained, the European Council has agreed to launch a positive political EU-Turkey agenda.

In the event of renewed unilateral actions or provocations in breach of international law, the EU will use all the instruments and options at its disposal to defend its interests and those of its member states.

The European Council will come back to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and take decisions as appropriate at the latest at its meeting in December 2020.

EU leaders also called for a multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean.

Belarus

The European Council condemned the Belarusian authorities’ unacceptable violence against peaceful protesters, intimidation and arbitrary arrests and detentions following the presidential elections, the results of which it does not recognise.

“The European Council fully supports the democratic right of the Belarusian people to elect their president through new free and fair elections, without external interference.”

European Council conclusions

EU leaders called on the Belarusian authorities to end violence and repression, release all detainees and political prisoners, respect media freedom and civil society, and start an inclusive national dialogue. They agreed that restrictive measures should be imposed and called on the Council to adopt the decision without delay. The European Council also encouraged the European Commission to prepare a plan of economic support for democratic Belarus.

EU-China

Following the EU-China summit on 22 June 2020 and the meeting with President Xi on 14 September 2020, both held via videoconference, the European Council discussed EU-China relations. The leaders recalled the goal of finalising negotiations for an ambitious EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI) by the end of 2020.

EU leaders encouraged China to assume greater responsibility in dealing with global challenges, in particular regarding climate. They welcomed President Xi’s statement that China will aim to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

The European Council also stressed its serious concerns about the human rights situation in China, including developments in Hong Kong and the treatment of people belonging to minorities.

EU-China leaders’ meeting via video conference, 14 September 2020

EU-China summit via video conference, 22 June 2020

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The European Council called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and urged the parties to recommit to a lasting ceasefire and the peaceful settlement of the conflict. It expressed its support for the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and asked the High Representative to examine the possibility of further EU support for the settlement process.

“The loss of life and the toll on the civilian population are unacceptable. There can be no military solution to the conflict, nor any external interference. Azerbaijan and Armenia should engage in substantive negotiations without preconditions.”

Poisoning of Alexei Navalny

EU leaders condemned the assassination attempt on Alexei Navalny using a military chemical nerve agent from the ʻNovichokʼ group. They also called on the Russian Federation’s authorities to fully cooperate with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to ensure an impartial international investigation and bring those responsible to justice. The European Council will return to the matter on 15-16 October 2020.

Agenda highlights, 2 October 2020
Single market, industrial policy and digital transition
In July, the European Council agreed an unprecedented recovery package to counter the effects of COVID-19 on the economies and societies of the EU member states. The two pillars of such a recovery, the green transition and the digital transformation, coupled with a strong single market, will foster new forms of growth and strengthen the EU’s resilience.

“This agreement was a major step to our vital objective: European strategic autonomy. (…) The strategic independence of Europe is our new common project for this century. It’s in all our common interest.”

Charles Michel, President of the European Council
The European Council will look at ways of deepening and strengthening the single market, developing a more ambitious industrial policy, and pressing ahead with the digital transformation.

EU leaders will focus on:

going back to a fully functioning single market as soon as possible
making the EU’s industries more competitive globally and increasing their autonomy
accelerating the digital transition