EU foreign ministers discussing Russia, int’l issues

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ANKARA, JAN 25 – EU foreign ministers convened a meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss several international issues, including the detention of opposition politician Alexey Navalny and protestors in Russia and transatlantic relations in wake of the inauguration of new US president.

“First, we’ll deal with the worrying events in Russia. More than 3,000 people have been reportedly arrested. This wave of detention is something that worries us a lot, as well as the detention of Mr. Navalny, so we are going to start by this issue,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a doorstep statement ahead of the first EU Foreign Affairs Council of 2021.

Tens of thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Russia to protest Navalny’s detention, demanding his immediate release. Many people supporting Navalny were detained in the country when police intervened the protestors harshly.

Navalny, 44, who received treatment in Germany after alleged poisoning, was arrested in the Russian capital Moscow upon his return on Jan. 17. Russian authorities said he had violated probation terms from a suspended sentence on a 2014 money laundering offence, which Navalny says is “politically motivated”.

Less than 25 hours after his return, Moscow’s Khimki Court ruled that Navalny would remain in custody on a 30-day pre-trial detention.

He is now behind bars in Moscow’s infamous Matrosskaya Tishina jail.

EU-Turkey relations

EU foreign ministers will also address relations with Turkey, Borrell said.

“We have the relationship with Turkey [on the agenda] after the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr [Mevlut] Cavusoglu to Brussels,” the EU official stated.

The death of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Egypt, transatlantic relations after the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, and post-Brexit relations with the UK on foreign policy, security, and defense will be discussed as well, Borrell added.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is expected to join the meeting via video link for an exchange on “Japan’s Indo-Pacific vision and regional security in Asia.”

The ministers will also discuss climate change and European Green Deal, and the council is expected to adopt conclusions on this topic.