Foreign ministers of 28 EU member-states have expressed concerns over the security situation in the Black Sea area and confirmed the non-recognition policy on Crimea, the Council of the European Union said in a statement adopted at its meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
“The Council remains concerned about the security challenges in the Black Sea area. In this context, it reiterates that respect for international law, including the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, including freedom of navigation, as well as EU policy decisions and its non-recognition policy on the illegal annexation of Crimea, are fundamental to the EU’s approach to regional cooperation in the Black Sea area,” the statement said.
The Council emphasized “the increasing strategic importance of the Black Sea area for the EU,” calling for “enhanced EU involvement in the regional cooperation.” “In particular, it highlights the importance of harnessing the new opportunities for economic development, resilience and connectivity in the region and beyond.”
The document says that the Council acknowledges that “enhanced Black Sea regional cooperation would contribute to the implementation of the EU Strategy for Connecting Europe and Asia, and its four priorities in terms of transport, energy, digital and people-to-people.” “The Council underlines the importance of developing a communication plan to support the EU’s contribution to regional cooperation in the Black Sea area, and to increase the visibility of the work by the EU and its Member States.”
The EU has been discussing the Black Sea area at different levels after the November 25, 2018 incident when three Ukrainian warships violated the rules of passage in the Kerch Strait. Despite the repeated warnings and demands to stop, the Ukrainian vessels continued their way, forcing Russia to use weapons. Three Ukrainian servicemen were lightly wounded. The vessels were detained and 24 Ukrainian sailors were arrested on charges of violating Russia’s borders.