General Affairs and External Relations Council: extracts from the joint press conference by Alexandr Vondra, Karel Schwarzenberg and Benita Ferrero-Waldner
Type: Summary of press conference
End production: 16/03/2009 First transmission: 16/03/2009
The Council started with a session on General Affairs, discussing the European Economic Recovery Plan and the preparation of the European Council. Alexandr Vondra, Czech Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, said that there is still time to decide on the economy recovery plan, until the Summit of this week. After this no agreement would be a failure of the EU.
The External Relations session, which followed the Council, included the decision to continue the sanctions in Belarus and discussions items on the EU-US Relations and the Middle East Peace Process.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Arrival to the press room conference
||SOUNDBITE (in English) by Alexandr Vondra, Czech Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs and President in office of the Council of the EU: We still have the time to reach an agreement on the package at the European Council and the European Parliament can give its say to that before the end of its legislatory mandate; if we fail to find an agreement this week, then the credibility of the people involved will put in the question; this is a collective exercise, and we have appealed to our partners in this respect; success would be a success of the entire 27.
||SOUNDBITE (in English) by Karel Schwarzenberg, Czech Minister for Foreign Affairs and President in office of the Council of the EU: The decision to prolong the sanctions and the suspension reflects the mixed situation in Belarus that we have seen over the past few weeks; the recent cases of violation in the area of human rights is certainly of concern for us; the EU remains ready to deepen its relations with Belarus depending on the progress the country will make; we attach great importance to all principles and commitment of Belarus made in the framework of the OSCE.
||SOUNDBITE (in English) by Karel Schwarzenberg: The EU-US Summit in Prague should send a strong political signal on the transatlantic partnership; we identified several topics, like energy, energy security, climate change, the region between the Mediterranean and the Caspian See including Afghanistan, and US Secretary Clinton has also suggested Western Balkans.
||SOUNDBITE (in English) by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the EC in charge of External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy (on Sri Lanka): Approximately 170,000 (civilian) people are being trapped in the North part of Sri Lanka and neither the Sri Lanka government nor the LTTE have until now accepted our appeal for an immediate cease fire or for finding possibilities for bringing food, basic goods, into this last resort where the fighting is going on; we think this is not possible and therefore I mentioned it and I hope that rather soon a political troika can go there and we will work on every different ways also with other allies in order to find a solution.
||SOUNDBITE (in English) by Benita Ferrero-Waldner: We stand for a two-state solution; we want to see a Foreign Minister of an Israeli government that accepts a two-state solution and accepts the renegotiation or negotiation of peace.
||Departure from the press room (2 shots)