The Council discussed recent events in Ukraine. The EU follows with deep concern the situation and the continuing political crisis in Ukraine and remains ready to respond quickly to any deterioration on the ground. The Council welcomed the recent steps, in particular the decision to revoke the laws which unduly restricted the exercise of fundamental freedoms. Further efforts are necessary to find a durable solution to the current political crisis.
The EU remains committed to supporting Ukraine's reform course. The Council also reiterated its commitment to signing the Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, as soon as Ukraine is ready, convinced that this Agreement does not constitute the final goal in EU-Ukraine cooperation.
See Council conclusions.
The Council adopted negotiating directives for a political dialogue and co-operation agreement with the Republic of Cuba. Welcoming the decision, Catherine Ashton said: "I am confident these negotiations will help consolidate our engagement with Cuba. This is not a policy change from the past. Just as we want to support reform and modernisation in Cuba, we have consistently raised human rights concerns which will remain at the core of this relationship."
See press release.
Central African Republic
The Council established the EU military operation in the Central African Republic, which is to contribute to a safe and secure environment in the Bangui region for up to six months, with a view to handing over to African partners. EUFOR RCA is to deploy as soon as possible.
At the same time, the Council remains deeply concerned at the security and humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic and condemned the escalating cycle of violence and retaliation. It welcomed the new transitional authorities in the Central African Republic and reiterated the EU's commitment to support them in their efforts to implement the transition agreement, restore public order and to meet the needs of the population.
See Council conclusions, press release and factsheet.