An extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers held on Thursday on the crisis in Mali, condemned Jihadist aggression, supported France and other member states and agreed to set up a training mission for the Malian Armed Forces. The EU also agreed to accelerate its work to support the African-led military mission to Mali, and offered financial support to it through the African Peace Facility. The EU also agreed to appoint a Special Representative for the Sahel and support Humanitarian efforts to help the stricken civilian population. They also reiterated their support for the EU's strategy for the Sahel.
Ashton condemns terrorist aggression in Mali
Speaking after the meeting which she had called, High Representative Catherine Ashton said that "we were united in condemning the aggression of terrorist groups and welcoming the quick response of France and other EU member states. We came together to agree a number of concrete steps. We agreed to establish the EU mission to train and advise the Malian Armed Forces and we appointed French Brigadier General Francois Lecointre as mission commander."
Earlier she had held talks with Malian foreign minister Minister Coulibaly who had also attended the foreign affairs council. Catherine Ashton welcomed the fact Mr Minister Coulibaly had said he that he was committed to adopting a Roadmap he described as having two elements. The first was to "recover the North" - To bring back the north to the country and the second being a Roadmap towards elections.
In their statement after the meeting Ministers condemned "acts being carried out by terrorist groups against the Malian Armed Forces, which are jeopardising the country's territorial integrity and the safety of its population. Under those circumstances, and in line with the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, the EU supports the efforts being made by the region and by the international community."
European Union Training Mission (EUTM Mali)
Due to this, Ministers decided to establish the European Union Training Mission (EUTM Mali), which will be responsible for providing the Malian Armed Forces with military training and advice within the framework of Resolutions 2071 and 2085 and in response to the direct request by the Malian authorities to the EU.
The aim is for this to be launched mid-February at the latest
Support for African led Mission
They went on to say that The EU supports the rapid deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2085, and reiterates its commitment to providing swift financial assistance to that Mission, in particular through the mobilisation of the African Peace Facility. They asked the High Representative and the EEAS to hasten preparations for the provision of financial and logistical support, in close cooperation with the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS. They also called for the organisation of a donors conference.
Call for Roadmap for democracy
The meeting also noted that political progress is essential in order to ensure Mali's long-term stability. To that end, the EU urges the Malian authorities to adopt and implement a roadmap for the restoration of democracy and constitutional order in Mali as soon as possible.
The EU is prepared to step up its support immediately for the efforts being made by humanitarian organisations to assist people in need in Mali and its neighbouring countries. It underlines the importance of effective coordination between humanitarian actors under the auspices of the United Nations, and reiterates its appeal to all the parties concerned to allow unhindered humanitarian access to people in need and to ensure the safety of aid workers.
The EU also called on all the parties to guarantee the protection of civilian populations and to comply with international humanitarian law and human rights. All the parties and individuals involved in Mali will be held responsible for their actions.