Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the Council, held a press conference after the 3199th meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 19 November 2012 in Brussels.
The EU Ministers for Foreign Affairs discussed the situation in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and then the latest events in Syria and elsewhere in the EU's southern neighbourhood. The Council took stock of the Middle East Peace Process and debated the situation in Ukraine following the recent parliamentary elections. Ministers exchanged views on EU relations with Cuba and finally briefly discussed the outcome of the US elections. They also discussed the critical situation in Gaza.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Arrival of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the Council
||SOUNDBITE by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH) on Gaza: saying that in the debate they deeply regretted the loss of life on both sides; they believe the attacks must end immediately or even more innocent civilians will suffer; they are calling for an urgent de-escalation and a cessation of hostilities; in this respect they support the mediation efforts of Egypt and other parties; saying that she has been in regular contact with a number of different people including the Israeli Prime Minister, the Palestinian Prime Minister, the Arab League, Egypt, the UN Secretary General and the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, amongst others.
||SOUNDBITE by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH) saying that they discussed the situation in Syria where they remain horrified by what's going on and concerned about the spill over to neighbouring countries; ministers repeated their support of Lakhdar Brahimi, Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, who they met the previous week when they were in Cairo; they welcomed the agreement to create the new opposition coalition whose leader Mr Moaz al-Khatib she met in Cairo as well; they have called for a long time for the opposition to unite; they consider the coalition legitimate representatives of the aspirations of the Syrian people.
||SOUNDBITE by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH) saying that they had very useful meetings with Defence Ministers, first in the steering board of the European Defence Agency and then in the Council; they agreed on the importance of further developing the EU's military capabilities in Europe to sustain and enhance the Common Security and Defence Policy; she therefore welcomes the adoption of a code of conduct for pooling and sharing which includes concrete actions to help Member States mainstream pooling and sharing into their national planning.
||Cutaway of a cameraman
||SOUNDBITE by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH) saying that they are also of course extremely worried by the deteriorating situation in Mali and especially the humanitarian situation which is getting worse; they remain committed to try and help the Malian people; the Council call on parties to agree on a roadmap for a rapid political transition; this will allow to resume development cooperation; they believe there is a need to respond quickly to security and terrorist threats within the framework to be defined by the UN Security Council.
||SOUNDBITE by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH) saying that they've also been following the latest developments in the Eastern DRC with concern; the M23 must immediately stop the military offensive in Eastern DRC; any support to the M23 in violation of the sanctions regime and the arms embargo should stop; those who have influence over the rebels will make it their priority to urge an immediate end to the fighting; this conflict has a huge high human cost; all parties must allow unrestricted humanitarian access to those in need.
||Catherine Ashton leaving the press room