Minister Lajčák: EU and Arab states should jointly address regional issues
Cairo (20 December) - Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Miroslav Lajčák, who was representing Slovakia at the ministerial meeting of the European Union and the League of Arab States (LAS) in Cairo on Tuesday called for tighter cooperation between these two groupings in addressing regional and global problems.
The beginning of the discussion between the 28 EU member states and 21 LAS members was marked by the most recent attacks on civilians in Berlin, the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Ankara and the attack on the security forces in Karak, Jordan and the participants in the ministerial meeting jointly condemned the attacks.
“We face similar challenges that know no frontiers and we will manage to successfully overcome them when we pool our forces,” stated Minister Lajčák in Cairo. He also pointed out in his address that the EU-LAS strategic dialogue has so far focused just on emergency management and responding to regional conflicts.
“Our mutual relations and cooperation should not be limited just to the issue of addressing conflicts, humanitarian aid and fighting against terrorism. We all know that what can effectively move us ahead primarily is a positive agenda, especially when it is underpinned with intensive dialogue,” emphasized Minister Lajčák.
“Common dialogue between the European Union and the Arab League should, besides security aspects, also include areas such as education, research, contacts between people and inter-religious dialogue.” In that regard he mentioned a specific contribution made by Slovakia when it increased by six times the number of scholarships for young people from the Middle East.
“We depend on one another in accomplishing progress in respective areas and for that reason it is important to use this kind of event to agree on specific actions that will help us succeed in addressing the problems and challenges that we jointly face,” noted Minister Lajčák.
He included among such challenges migration that has been affecting both the EU and the LAS in various forms. Arab countries, similarly to the European countries, are the destination countries for migration but frequently they also are its transit and, in certain instances, its source countries.
“Migration will be a challenge for several generations and needs global attention. From the European point of view cooperation is needed with the closest regional partners since no single state or region can cope with it on its own,” emphasized Minister Lajčák.
On the sideline of the EU-LAS ministerial meeting Minister Lajčák also held bilateral talks with Riyad al-Maliki, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Palestinian National Authority and they evaluated the opportunities for revitalizing the stagnant Palestine-Israel negotiations and the international aspects of the Middle East peace process.
This topic was also in the focus of discussions by Minister Lajčák and French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Harlem Desir, when they talked about the Middle East conference scheduled to take place in Paris and how to bring new dynamics to the entire process.
Minister Lajčák discussed the developments in Syria and the ramifications for Lebanon with Bassil Gebran, Lebanon's Foreign Minister and congratulated him on the formation of the new Lebanese cabinet.
Minister Lajčák held an extensive talk with his Maltese counterpart, George Vella, and their discussion focused on summarizing Slovakia’s experience in holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and they jointly went through the European Union agenda issues facing Malta as the next country to hold the presidency.
Before the EU-LAS ministerial meeting Minister Lajčák attended the joint talks of the Visegrad Four countries (V4) with Egypt under the successful V4 Plus partner format. With the Egyptian Minister Sameh Shoukry and counterparts from Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic they evaluated timely developments in the region where Egypt plays the role as an important actor and also discussed the opportunities for deepening practical V4-Cairo cooperation. In that regard the use of transformation experiences from the Central European region appears prospective in the reform of the Egyptian economy.