Three foreign ministers from European Union countries – Nikolai Mladenov of Bulgaria, Carl Bildt of Sweden and Poland’s Radoslaw Sikorski – are to brief a June 25 2012 meeting of the bloc’s foreign affairs council on their three-day visit to Syria’s neighbours Lebanon and Iraq.
The EU foreign affairs council has Syria as its first item, according to an agenda made public ahead of the meeting.
Mladenov, Bildt and Sikorski conducted joint visits to Lebanon and Iraq, respectively, between June 21 and 24.
“I congratulate the leadership of Lebanon on their efforts to wall off Lebanon from the events in Syria. We are here to express the solidarity and support of our three countries and the institutions of the European Union with the people of Lebanon. You have one of the strongest democratic traditions in the region and what is most important is to preserve that model,” Bulgarian Foreign Minister Mladenov said on June 22 at a meeting with Lebanese president Michel Suleiman, according to a media statement by the Foreign Ministry in Sofia.
The same day, Mladenov, Bildt and Sikorski held talks with the Speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri, and members of the parliamentary committees on foreign policy and emigration.
The foreign ministers addressed a strong message to the Lebanese parties to co-operate to prevent the conflict in neighbouring Syria from spreading beyond its borders, the media statement said.
During a June 23 meeting in Baghdad with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, Mladenov said: “Our visit is a sign of the role of Iraq in this critical situation. It sends two key signals – support in the difficult times through which the region is passing, and in which the experience of Iraq is important to our vision for the future of Syria”.
At a meeting with Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, Mladenov said that a good plan for Syria was impossible without hearing the thoughts of the countries in the region.
Meeting Iraqi Kurdistan federal region president Massoud Barzani inErbil, Mladenov said: “We are delighted to today be in one of the most ancient cities in the world, and one which is an example how the wealth of a country may be used for the benefit of all citizens”.
Mladenov said that the visit to Erbil had made it possible for the three foreign ministers to acquaint themselves with the Kurdish perspective on events.
“You want a free and democratic Syria, in which the rights and freedoms of all minorities are respected,” Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister said.
(Photo: Council of the European Union)