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Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg at the Foreign Affairs Council

AUSTRIA, July 17 - On 18 July 2022, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg took part in the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. The main focus during the meeting of EU foreign ministers was the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, and the coordination of associated sanctions and aid. Other items on the agenda were relations with the Latin American and Caribbean states as well as digital diplomacy.

Before the meeting, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg emphasised that the EU sanctions against Russia were having an impact. The Russian narrative suggesting that this is not the case should not be embraced under any circumstances. While the economy in the EU continues to grow, the Russian economy is expected to shrink by around 10 percent this year – even though the full effect of the sanctions will take some time to set in. Nonetheless, he said, it was important to exercise good judgement regarding further sanctions. The new sanctions that were discussed in the Council are simply reinforcements of the existing sanctions that will close loopholes and make the sanctions more effective, thereby increasing the pressure on Russia.

I believe that politicians and businesspeople are in agreement – we want to live in a world where rules apply, where ’pacta sunt servanda’, the rule of law and international law apply, and where might does not make right,

said Foreign Minister Schallenberg, underlining the necessity of the sanctions.

With regard to all further sanctions, too, it is essential that they harm Russia more than they harm people in the European Union. Thus, a unified approach by all EU member states is the highest priority for Austria.

So far, our actions have been so effective and so unified – we cannot let ourselves be divided now!

urged Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

In addition, the EU foreign ministers discussed how they could continue to support Ukraine. This involved a discussion with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who joined the meeting via video from Kyiv. To date, Austria alone has provided around 80 million euros in humanitarian aid for Ukraine and other particularly impacted states. The Council approved an additional 500 million euros in aid through the European Peace Facility.

Because of the geopolitical upheaval resulting from the Russian war of aggression, stepping up relations with other like-minded world regions – like the Latin American and Caribbean states – is increasingly important. Therefore, the Council discussed ways to further strengthen these political and economic relations.

The third item on the agenda, digital diplomacy, also pertained to the Russian war of aggression. Cyber attacks, online disinformation, and deep fakes have seen a massive increase since 24 February. Consequently, Austria recommended higher EU investments in order to counteract these trends.