Press Advisories

16. 12. 201610:06

The situation in Aleppo and strengthening European security discussed at the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels

The Prime Minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, represented the CR at the European Council meeting in Brussels. Leaders of the EU Member States discussed the situation in Syria, migration, increasing security and defence and completing the ratification of the association agreement with Ukraine.

Prime ministers and presidents of the European Union Member States began the summit by discussing the tragic situation in Syria, particularly the city of Aleppo. European Council members had the opportunity to listen to the mayor of the eastern part of Aleppo, who testified to the catastrophic situation in the eastern part of the city and its inhabitants. EU leaders called on the Syrian regime and its allies, in particular Russia and Iran, to ensure the immediate evacuation of the population of eastern Aleppo, to provide the inhabitants with immediate assistance, to comply with the applicable humanitarian laws and to protect medical personnel. "The situation in Aleppo is truly catastrophic. The Czech Republic has long provided Syria with humanitarian aid and we will continue these efforts next year by providing medical care for seven Syrian children under the MEDEVAC programme," said the Czech Prime Minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, after the meeting.

European leaders also discussed the role of Russia in relation to developments in the conflict in the east of Ukraine. Given the lack of progress in implementing the Minsk agreement, the meeting reflected the members’ agreement on the need to continue to apply sanctions against the Russian Federation. The EU Council will officially confirm this decision in the near future.

The twenty-eight EU members adopted a decision to continue the process of ratifying the Association Agreement with Ukraine in the Netherlands, which held an unsuccessful referendum in the spring of 2016. The Dutch Parliament will have the final word on this issue. “I believe that today we have taken the right step towards a successful conclusion of the ratification process for the Association Agreement with Ukraine,” confirmed the Prime Minister.

An important topic for today’s summit was also one of the Czech priorities: the security and defence of the EU. The European Council also agreed to strengthen cooperation in defence and security. "Today, the Czech Republic, together with Germany and France, was able to put forward its objectives for the coming months in the area of defence. This includes strengthening our ability to ensure joint organisation of foreign missions, to simplify their financing, to increase investment in defence and to support defence research and industry," was how Prime Minister commented on the agreement.

The European politicians also addressed the topic of migration. There is a consensus on common priorities in terms of protecting internal borders, preventing illegal migration and cooperation with third countries. It is important that migration agreements, known as migration compacts, with African countries (Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal and Ethiopia) gradually start to be implemented. These agreements cover the provision of additional European aid to countries which will cooperate in reducing migration pressures and the repatriation of migrants from Europe.