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Flanagan sets out Government position on Gaza and Ukraine

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan today briefed Senators on his ongoing engagement with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the Director General of UNRWA seeking a ceasefire in Gaza.

Speaking at a special debate in Seanad Éireann on the crises in Gaza and the Ukraine, Minister Flanagan said:

I fully share the horror and revulsion of Senators and very many of our citizens at the horrendous scenes we have witnessed since the start of the Israeli military operation. This is a truly appalling situation and the Government has been quite categorical in condemning both the unacceptably high civilian casualty rate resulting from disproportionate military action on Israel’s part as well as the firing of rockets by Hamas and other militants into Israel.

The violence must stop and an immediate ceasefire must be instituted.

Minister Flanagan also addressed the EU decision to step up sanctions against Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine and the loss of flight MH17.

Despite our repeated calls, Russia has failed to use its influence on the separatists to end the violence and lay down their weapons. Instead there has been a continued flow of militants and material over the Russian-Ukrainian border. Indeed, rather than the situation deescalating, it has worsened and there are credible reports that Russia is once again massing troops on the border. This is a deeply destabilising move in an already highly volatile atmosphere.

Against this background, my fellow EU Foreign Ministers and I last week agreed on a further expansion of restrictive measures targeting individuals supporting or benefitting from Russian decision-makers responsible for the destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine. We also agreed to accelerate the preparation of sectoral sanctions which would impact on Russia’s access to capital markets, arms supplies, dual use goods and sensitive technology, including in the energy sector.

Read the full press release here.