In Stockholm

Robles takes part in the of EU defence ministers' meeting in Brussels

News - 2023.3.8

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At the first session, the defence ministers received a first-hand update on the situation in Ukraine from the country's defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, who called for urgent material needs to enable his countrymen to continue defending themselves against the invading Russian forces.

The ministers discussed a proposal from the European External Action Service (EEAS) and assessed possible options for accelerating joint military procurement and distribution, and for enhancing European production capacity.

Robles underlined the importance and the leading role that the European Defence Agency should play in this regard, highlighting the importance of the European Peace Fund as an instrument of solidarity.

"Our main objective is to ensure that we are capable of sustaining this effort over time by attending to various aspects, including reception, humanitarian aid, military supplies and training," said the Spanish defence minister.

Spain is particularly committed to support for the latter, having already hosted more than 500 Ukrainian soldiers in different modules at the Training Coordination Centre in Toledo, and is being asked to extend the training to a further 500 troops.

Boosting the strategic compass

In the second working session, as part of the debate on the EU's missions and operations, the Minister for Defence confirmed the decisive impetus that the Spanish Presidency intends to give during the second half of 2023 to the Strategic Compass, the main instrument for responding to the challenges and threats to our security.

"Spain supports the strengthening of missions and operations not only through more robust and flexible mandates and more agile decision-making processes, but also with more strategic communication based on local ownership and, of course, with greater European financial solidarity towards missions in the south," she said. Following her recent trip to Mali, Robles told her counterparts that she is in no doubt that now is the time to persevere in our efforts to help the Malian people, "whose stability will be compromised if we abandon them".

Last, a working lunch was held in the presence of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and UN Deputy Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix. The ministers discussed the presence of state and non-state actors in different theatres of operations, the EU's commitments in relation to its presence in the southern eastern neighbourhood, and Russian and Chinese influence on the international scene, among other issues.

European action is being hampered by disinformation campaigns in which hostile actors distort reality through manipulated content. To this effect, Robles assured that "propaganda is combated with the truth", expressing her support for greater local ownership in strategic communication, seeking to make it more joint and coordinated with local authorities in the theatres of operations.

"For Spain, the United Nations Charter continues to be the guiding document for international coexistence, for stability and security based on rules that bind us all," the minister reminded Lacroix. "We promote human security by protecting the most vulnerable from armed conflict. We share common objectives of solidarity, and together we promote important agendas, such as the World Food Programme and Safe Schools," she said.

On International Women's Day , the minister also recalled and made special mention of Iranian, Ukrainian and Afghan women, paying particular attention to the latter, who have been deprived of access to education, which undoubtedly generates even greater frustration given the 20-year presence in the country of the armed forces of many NATO countries.

Last, she called for the effective implementation of UN Resolution 1325 by emphasising a greater increase of women in the armed forces and enhancing their role in conflict resolution.

Non official translation