Varadkar to attend European Council meeting in Brussels

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is in Brussels, Belgium today for what is likely his last time attending a European Council meeting.

The meeting will focus on Ukraine, the Middle East, the killing of Alexei Navalny, along with other defence issues, and migration.

Mr Varadkar will update EU leaders on his recent meetings with US President Joe Biden. Discussions will also focus on agriculture, the situation in Belarus and EU enlargement.

The two-day meeting starts with a working lunch with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, he said there must be a strong, united EU voice on the crisis in the Middle East.

The Taoiseach said he will repeat Ireland’s message that the people of Gaza cannot be subject to collective punishment for the appalling crimes of Hamas, and call for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages, and a massive increase in aid.

Mr Varadkar said: “Israel must not launch a ground offensive in Rafah, where over a million Palestinians have fled for safety. Recent initiatives to get more aid into Gaza by sea and by air are essential, but it’s vital that more aid is allowed into Gaza by road to end the looming famine.

“And aside from an immediate ceasefire, the best chance we have for peace and justice is if the US and Europe lead a process towards a two-State solution resulting in a Palestinian State.

He also said he will thank UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for the vital role that UN agencies are playing in the Middle East and express strong backing for the UN’s relief agency, UNWRA.

Mr Varadkar said: “The European Council will also re-state our unwavering support for Ukraine and its brave people for as long as it takes. Russia’s imperial war is existential for Ukraine and fundamental for European and global security. We know that Putin potentially threatens the EU’s borders, especially if he is successful in Ukraine.”

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