The acting Minister for Defence attends the Council of Defence Ministers of the European Union

News - 2023.11.14

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The acting Minister for Defence, Margarita Robles, has taken part in the meeting of EU defence ministers convened by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell.

The first session was devoted to EU military support to Ukraine, including ammunition initiatives, progress on the EUMAM Ukraine training mission and proposals for the European Peace Facility Assistance Fund for Ukraine.

During her speech, minister Robles recalled that the EU's response to Ukraine "must continue with the same determination and commitment even now, when new critical points of attention on the international security scene have emerged".

With regard to the EUMAM Ukraine training mission, the minister welcomed its remarkable results, highlighting in particular the work of the Toledo Coordination Centre which, with more than 3,000 trained troops, "is a model of efficiency, both in basic and specialised combat training, and in fraternisation with Ukrainian soldiers".

She also highlighted the efforts of the Ministry of Defence in the field of medical assistance, both in the training of Ukrainian medical personnel for immediate support to assist casualties and in the reception of the seriously wounded in military hospitals, as well as in the supply of medical equipment.

She also announced the launch of a support programme for the families of Ukrainian soldiers who have fallen in combat, "who will be welcomed to enjoy a rest in Spanish military residences".

During the second session, which focused on current security and defence issues, ministers discussed the state of play of the Rapid Deployment Capability and the status and perspectives of Common Security and Defence Policy Missions and Operations.

The acting Minister for Defence expressed her gratitude for the effort and unity shown by all the partners during the Spanish Presidency, "which has made it possible to make progress in the Europe of Defence and strengthen the protection of our citizens, which is the purpose of any security and defence policy".

Robles praised what has undoubtedly been "a great step forward in our ability to act, testing the Rapid Deployment Capability in the EU's first LIVEX exercise held in Cadiz, in which 3,000 troops from 19 states took part".

She also underlined the industrial breakthrough as "a demonstration of Europe's potential to support citizens' well-being and work when we work together".

The acting minister had a word for Africa, noting that "the EU's comprehensive approach is the only hope for many societies, and underlining the need to tackle the spread of terrorism and Russia in the Sahel".

On the situation in Gaza, after condemning the horrendous terrorist attack by Hamas and recognising Israel's right to defend itself in accordance with international humanitarian law, she called for urgent action to alleviate the terrible suffering of the Palestinian civilian population, by supporting humanitarian operations and sending European humanitarian aid.

In the margins of the Council, Robles also had the opportunity to meet with the Belgian heads of defence to discuss matters related to the handover of the European presidency, and the Dutch heads of defence, with whom she exchanged ideas on aspects of the European defence industry. Last, she met with her Latvian counterpart to discuss the continuity of Spain's deterrence and defence posture on Europe's eastern flank.

Non official translation