Foreign Affairs Council, 3218th meeting: extracts from the press conference by Catherine Ashton
Type: Summary of press conference
End production: 31/01/2013 First transmission: 31/01/2013
The 3218th meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council was held on 31 January 2013 in Brussels. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the Council, held a press conference following the Council meeting.
The Council reiterated the EU's strong and continued commitment to the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Mali. It welcomed the progress of the Mali armed forces, supported by France and States of the region, in the North of Mali against the terrorist groups. It stressed the importance of continuing international commitment in support of Mali, in particular the efforts deployed by the African States. It also welcomed the adoption of a roadmap, a vital step towards fully re-establishing constitutional order.
The Council also welcomed the end of the transition in Somalia as a historic opportunity to leave behind two decades of conflict and undertook to sustain EU's collective efforts to support Somalia's transformation. The Council had an exchange of views with Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia.
The Council took stock of the situation in Syria and Egypt as well as of the EU's response to the Arab Spring, in view of a debate at the European Council of 7-8 February 2013.
The Council approved the crisis management concept for a possible civilian Common Security and Defence Policy mission to support border management in Libya.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the Council, arriving
||SOUNDBITE by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH) saying that, on 5 February 2013, the Council will host a special ministerial meeting of the support and follow-up group on Mali, which will be co-chaired by the African Union, the UN and ECOWAS; that meeting will reinforce international cooperation, support the concrete implementation of the roadmap and follow up the international donors' conference at which the European Union announced a contribution of 50 million euro in support of the African-led operation (AFISMA).
||Cutaway of the audience
||SOUNDBITE by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH) saying that ahead of the following week's European Council, the Ministers had an in-depth discussion on the EU's southern neighbourhood, focusing on Syria and Egypt; saying that she has invited Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to the next Foreign Affairs Council on 18 February 2013; the focus is to give all the support possible to his efforts to find a political resolution to the terrible crisis; the Council has actively engaged with the opposition and encouraged them to continue working on their internal structures while remaining committed to the principles of inclusiveness, human rights and the rule of law; the situation is clearly getting worse, and the level of violence is totally unacceptable; while doing everything possible to work with its international partners on a political solution, the EU will continue to help the people of Syria as much as possible.
||Cutaway of the audience
||SOUNDBITE by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH) saying that nobody talked about shipping weapons; what will happen at the following meeting is, first of all, there will be absolute clarity about what is and is not allowed under the embargo; there will be a discussion about what is being said to the EU by people in Syria and especially the opposition groups; and thirdly, where Member States wish to move, if they wish to move at all, either to put the embargo back as it is or to make additions to it or whatever; the discussion at the Foreign Affairs Council that day was simply the first flavour of that and that is how the discussion will be taken forward at the following meeting.
||General view of the meeting