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Attending a Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting in Brussels on Monday, Romania's Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu welcomed the opportunity to discuss the Western Balkans, given the upward trend in their relationships with the EU.

"The Western Balkans discussion focused on recent developments in the region, including in the stage of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. Ministers assessed the prospects for implementing the Prespa Agreement and the post-election situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, urging further reforms throughout the region," according to a press statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) on Monday.

Melescanu voiced Romania's assessment on the latest developments in the region and informed about the intention of the forthcoming Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union to keep the Western Balkans on the priority agenda, alongside the EU enlargement process, ensuring the advancement of the European perspective in the region based on individual progress.

Discussed at the FAC meeting were the Western Balkans, the EU-African Union co-operation, Ukraine, Iran, Venezuela.

"The debates on the EU-African Union co-operation took place in preparation for a joint ministerial meeting to be held in Brussels on January 21-22, 2019. The Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister referred to the importance of the next meeting in terms of the implementation of the actions agreed upon at the summit in Abidjan in 2017. He voiced support for the complementariness between the new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, and the measures adopted in Abidjan."

An exchange of views on Ukraine analysed the context in which the recent tensions in the Black Sea near the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait had taken place following Russia's use of military force against Ukraine.

"The meeting underscored EU's firm message on the need to detente the situation, release the crews, resume navigation and respect international law and engagements. In the context, the Romanian Foreign Minister reiterated the commitment and support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as condemnation and non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea."

At the session dedicated to Iran, the foreign ministers reviewed the latest developments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as well as developments at regional and international level.

At the discussion on Venezuela, the ministers exchanged views on the international community's efforts to provide solutions to the domestic crisis, including President Nicolas Maduro starting a new term of office on January 10, 2019.

"In the morning, the Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister attended an informal working breakfast hosted by Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, with the participation of the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer, together with European counterparts. The focus was on the EU-ICRC cooperation amidst humanitarian crises, including Syria and Yemen."

On the side-lines of the FAC meeting, Melescanu had a bilateral meeting with Cyprus's Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides to discuss issues of common interest on the European and international agenda, including Romania's priorities when holding the Presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2019. AGERPRES (RO - author: Daniel Alexandru Florea, editor: Mihai Simionescu; EN - author: Corneliu-Aurelian Colceriu, editor: Rodica State)

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