KUWAIT: On June 30, 2022, a joint press conference was held at the premises of the Czech Embassy in Kuwait to mark the handover of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from France to the Czech Republic. The Ambassador of the European Union Dr Cristian Tudor, the Ambassador of France Claire Le Flecher for the outgoing Presidency, and the Ambassador of the Czech Republic Jaroslav Siro for the upcoming Presidency spoke at the press conference.
Dr Cristian Tudor, Ambassador of the European Union explained the system of the rotating Presidency by saying: “The Presidency of the Council of the European Union rotates among the EU Member States every 6 months. Before taking up this important role, the EU Member State, which holds the Presidency, prepares its detailed program for the topics and priority issues that will be addressed by the Council of the EU in Brussels. The EU Delegation in Kuwait worked closely with the Embassy of France for the past half year to assist them in achieving objectives of their Presidency. I look forward to continuing this excellent cooperation with the Czech Embassy as they take over the role of rotating Presidency tomorrow.”
The EU Ambassador added: “Unfortunately, one of these issues during the last six months was the return of war to Europe in the form of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Europe will continue to work with Ukraine and like-minded partners to counter this aggression and eventually Ukraine will prevail. He concluded by saying that the EU Delegation plays an important role in organizing and hosting regular meetings at the level of Heads of Missions for the 17 EU Member States represented in Kuwait, which provide a platform for EU Member States Ambassadors to exchange views and coordinate our work in Kuwait.
Claire Le Flecher, Ambassador of France, underlined how the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24 has unexpectedly affected the agenda of the French Presidency of the European Union. She added that contrary to Russian hopes and calculations, the EU has demonstrated strong unity and collective purpose. “The EU has shown its ability to react decisively on many fronts. First, it had to address as a matter of urgency the major humanitarian crisis provoked by the war and greet hundreds of thousands having to take shelter in EU countries, primarily neighbors.
Second, it quickly started to address the situation from a security and defense viewpoint, through coordinated supplies of military equipment to enable Ukraine to defend its territory, and it adopted for the first time a Strategic Compass expressing how the EU collectively sees and intends to defend its strategic interests. Third, it took strong action to reduce its dependency on Russian energy supplies. And fourth and last, it adopted several rounds of targeted sanctions against Russia.”
The EU also had to keep on, as one of the main engines of the world economy, to press on with its recovery agenda, in a context of rising energy and food prices. It is now focusing on how to help low-income countries face the food security crisis triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As to key long-term challenges, climate change remains by far the most worrying one for the world. Le Flécher added that “Despite the present energy crisis, the stakes are too high not to sustain the course. New progress has been achieved by the EU on its plan for green transition “Fit to 55″. On this issue as many others, we are happy and very confident to pass the relay to the Czech Presidency, with whom France has strongly coordinated during the past six months.”
Jaroslav Siro, Ambassador of the Czech Republic, presented the priorities of the Czech Presidency and congratulated Ukraine on the EU candidate country status granted by the EU Member States. In his address, he said: “I am pleased to announce here, that starting on July 1, 2022, the Czech Republic will hold for the next six month the Presidency of the Council of the European Union with the Motto: ‘Europe as a task – Rethink, Rebuild, Repower’. It fully reflects the attitude of the Czech Republic to such a responsible task. Let me use this opportunity to thank the French Presidency for their excellent work and performance during their tenure.”
He further continued: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has brought along the necessity of a fundamental reassessment of the EU priorities and significantly influenced the preparation of the five Czech Presidency’s priorities: supporting Ukraine, energy security of Europe, reinforcement of European defense capacities, strategic resilience of EU’s economy and protecting European democracy.”
With respect to the relations with Kuwait and the GCC countries, he said: “High on the list of the priorities of our Presidency lies a firm support to the development and strengthening of relations with the Gulf countries, including Kuwait. We support the proposal by the European Commission to grant the Schengen visa waiver to citizens of Kuwait and Qatar, which will help to strengthen people-to-people contacts. Yesterday, the Council of the EU approved the negotiating mandate for the Presidency to negotiate with the European Parliament on the liberalization of short-stay visas for Kuwait and Qatar. This is an important step in legislative procedures of the EU.”