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Foreign Minister Schallenberg Attends EU Council of Foreign Ministers in Brussels

AUSTRIA, February 20 - On 21 February, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg travelled to Brussels for a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC). During this meeting, the EU foreign ministers primarily focussed on the latest developments in the Ukraine crisis and the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ahead of the talks, Foreign Minister Schallenberg and his EU counterparts also met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

We will not stand by and watch when a country believes it can use force to shift borders in the 21st century. The EU is united against this threat – we must do everything in our power to prevent war in Europe,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

He considers the ongoing scenario in Eastern Ukraine to be “very unsettling”.

There is an unparalleled disinformation campaign underway. Along the line of contact, we are seeing the highest number of encroachments since 2015. It is not yet a military aggression by Russia – but the signs are all there: Nearly two-thirds of Russia’s conventional armed forces are currently positioned at the Ukrainian border,

warned Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

At the same time, he emphasised that there would be “massive sanctions” if Russia took military action. The EU has its “response waiting in the drawer” and will “pull it out if necessary”. He added that he supports the strategy of not revealing the details of the sanction package in advance.

Sanctions are a response – a kind of ‘punishment’, if you will. You cannot and should not announce them ahead of time. As representatives of the European Union, we have always said we would respond adequately to an act of aggression, and we should hold ourselves to that,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

Beyond the situation in Ukraine, the current developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina are also “very concerning”, he said, and require a “unified European response”.

The concerns of Bosnia and Herzegovina are close to our hearts, as we are practically neighbours. The country’s unity is essential to the stability of the entire Western Balkan region, which also makes it of fundamental interest to the EU. It is not acceptable for the leadership of the Republika Srpska to continue implementing unconstitutional initiatives that undermine the unity of the country and the legitimacy of its institutions. The integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina is non-negotiable,

emphasised Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

He warned against allowing Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans to become a “playing field for non-European powers”.