TÁNAISTE Micheál Martin will begin a series of meetings in Spain today with EU ministers for defence and foreign affairs.
As Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Mr Martin will attend the informal meeting of defence ministers which is taking place today and tomorrow, followed by a meeting of foreign affairs ministers which starts tomorrow and ends on August 31.
The gathering is being hosted by Spain in the city of Toledo, in their capacity as the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
“Both meetings will provide an important opportunity for coordination of the EU’s response to the latest developments in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and in Niger,” a spokesperson for Mr Martin’s office confirmed.
Ukrainian Minister for Defence, Oleksii Reznikov is expected to brief ministers on recent developments in Ukraine during today’s Informal Defence Ministerial.
Representatives of the UN and NATO are also due to attend, while the ministers for foreign affairs of both Ukraine and Niger will also join their EU counterparts for the discussions.
Speaking ahead of the Ukraine talks, the Tánaiste said: “Ukraine continues to face enormous challenges in the face of Russian aggression.
“The EU has repeatedly sent strong messages of our continuing determination and abiding commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and I look forward to these discussions, as they offer us an important opportunity to practically coordinate and implement the many different initiatives and assistance measures we are taking collectively.”
He added: “We must remain resolute in our commitment to stand with Ukraine and these discussions provide us with an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to Ukraine’s freedom and democracy.”
Regarding the planned talks on the coup in Niger, the Tánaiste said: “The situation in Niger is extremely grave and the EU has made clear its firm condemnation of the coup in Niger.
“Discussions over the next few days will allow us the opportunity to assess how the EU can be most effective in ensuring a return to democratic government, and support regional leaders in their efforts.”
He added: “The EU will continue to provide humanitarian aid and to stand alongside the people of Niger, in particular in its commitment to their human rights.”