The foreign ministers of the 27 member states of the European Union will meet on Jan. 25 for the first meeting of the year. It will be held in person in Brussels, but with no press allowed in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
с will be at the center of the agenda, the EU Council announced the day before.
Other topics of the ministerial meeting will be the strategy for providing vaccines to neighboring countries, EU-British cooperation on foreign policy and security issues, relations with Turkey, the migration situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the crisis in Venezuela.
“The ministers will exchange views on the recent detention of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny on his return to Russia on January 17, 2021,” the EU Council said.
As a senior EU official told reporters in Brussels the day before, diplomatic chief Josep Borrel intends to discuss with ministers the development of the situation in Moscow and to take stock.
Asked whether possible new sanctions against Russia would be discussed, the diplomat said it was not out of the question.
“We will discuss it on Monday. At the moment, there are no proposals for new sanctions from member countries,” he explained.
In addition, the source stressed that Navalny’s arrest is unlikely to affect the upcoming visit of European Union diplomatic chief Josep Borrell to Russia.
“I don’t think the Navalny situation will affect the visit. As Josep Borrel said, relations with Russia are much broader,” he said, adding that Borrel’s upcoming visit to Moscow will not be discussed at the EU Council meeting.
“As you know, the head of the diplomacy has an invitation. The visit is beginning to take shape. It is not related to the Navalny case,” he reported.
Navalny, twice convicted on probation for embezzlement, was wanted for multiple violations of the terms of his sentence in the Yves Rocher case. He was detained Sunday at Sheremetyevo airport, where his flight from Berlin had arrived. The Khimki court in Moscow is keeping him in custody until February 15. On February 2, the court is expected to decide on a petition to change his suspended sentence into a real one.
“The EU Council will discuss transatlantic relations with a view to future engagement with the new administration following the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th president of the United States on January 20,” the EU Council also said.
They noted that during discussions with ministers, the EU diplomatic chief “will refer to the decisions taken by the U.S. president in his first days in office, in particular the return to the Paris Agreement and WHO.”
“The EU’s interaction with the new administration will build on the conclusions of the EU summit last December and should also address the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” the source added.
Regarding the Iran deal, an EU spokesman told reporters that the U.S. will not participate in the joint commission on the JCPOA until it returns to the agreement.
“The U.S. will not participate in the joint commission until it gets back to the deal,” he said.
The diplomat stressed, however, that other channels of communication involving the U.S. on the issue are expected.
The U.S. presidential election was held on November 3, 2020. On December 14, 2020, the electoral college approved the results of the voting, according to which Biden won. His inauguration took place on January 20.