General Affairs and External Relations Council: arrivals (update)
End production: 16/06/2008 First transmission: 16/06/2008
The General Affairs and External Relations Council convened in Luxembourg on 16 and 17 June 2008 for its final meeting under the Slovenian Presidency. The Ministers' agenda was dominated by Ireland's "no" to the Lisbon Treaty. At his arrival to the Council, Micheál Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, cautioned against rushing into a quick solution to save the Lisbon Treaty. Dimitrij Rupel, Slovenian Minister for Foreign Affairs and President in office of the Council, said that it would be risky to say that they are going to bring the Treaty back to life. The Council's session on General Affairs focused on preparations for the European Council of 19 and 20 June. The Ministers examined draft conclusions prepared by the Presidency. After that, the future French, Czech and Swedish Presidencies presented their draft 18-month programme of the Council in the second half of 2008 and in 2009. The document focuses on long-term EU objectives and on issues expected to be covered during the upcoming 18-month period. In the External Relations portion of the GAERC meeting, the EU Ministers for Foreign Affairs reviewed the situation in the Western Balkans and were due to adopt conclusions on Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. They also discussed the visa liberalisation process, welcoming the presentation of "roadmaps" for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The Ministers also briefly discussed the situation in the Middle East and turned their attention to Africa, where they reviewed and adopted conclusions on the situation in the Great Lakes region, Sudan and Somalia, and had an exchange of views on the situation in Zimbabwe ahead of the 27 June presidential election runoff. The Council was also expected to have a debate on relations with Cuba, especially in the light of recent changes undertaken by the Cuban government. The Ministers also reviewed the situation in Myanmar six weeks after Cyclone Nargis caused major devastation in the country. The Ministers had several issues on the agenda for their working lunch, among them Iran and China. After the lunch, they were expected to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Arrival of Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy
||Margot Wallström (in ENGLISH) saying that they should have their say also from those who want a new Treaty; and the problems are not gone away, the problems that caused the European Union to discuss a new Treaty; they are still there
||Arrival of Karel Schwarzenberg, Czech Minister for Foreign Affairs
||Arrival of Bernard Kouchner, French Minister for Foreign and European Affairs
||David Miliband, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, (in ENGLISH) saying that the Treaty is absolutely clear that it needs the support of 27 countries for it come into law; that is written in clear black and white; he is absolutely clear that it is important that they do respect the position of the Irish government and the Irish people, that they ensure that they give them space to come to terms with their next steps; to stand up for the right of the British Parliament to take a view on a big issue is the absolutely basic democratic right of a British representative