Foreign Affairs Council, 3267th meeting: extracts from the doorsteps
Luxembourg [town] - Council
The 3267th meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council was held under the chairmanship of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the Council, on 21 October 2013 in Luxembourg.
The Council examined the situation in the EU’s Southern neighbourhood, focusing on developments in Egypt and in Syria, concerning inter alia the destruction of chemical weapons.
In preparation for the Eastern Partnership summit on 28-29 November in Vilnius, the Council took stock of developments regarding the EU’s Eastern Partnership. In this context, the Council also examined if the EU requirements for the signature of the EU/Ukraine Association Agreement had been met.
Over lunch, Ministers met with Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson and General Secretary of the National League for Democracy of Myanmar/Burma and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
In the margins of the Council, the first EU/Serbia Stabilisation and Association Council took place.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||SOUNDBITE by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the Council, (in ENGLISH) saying that of course the EU's Southern neighbourhood will be on the agenda; events continue in Syria; the EU's support for those who are dealing with chemical weapons will be part of the discussion, as well as the situation in Libya, which has had an impact on Member States of the EU, but also the situation inside the country; saying that she will report back too on her recent visit to Egypt; she is also delighted that they will have Aung San Suu Kyi joining them for lunch; saying that a few weeks later she will be travelling to Myanmar to chair the task force the EU has set up, bringing together their strong economic and political support for that country, for the people of the country; having Aung San Suu Kyi is a good opportunity to hear from her of the challenges that still remain within the country and the issues of greatest concern to her and to the people.
||SOUNDBITE by Michael Spindelegger, Austrian Federal Vice-Chancellor and Minister for European and International Affairs, (in ENGLISH) saying that a lot has been achieved so far; at the UN Security Council, nobody thought that this could happen; so he is optimistic but he hopes that there will be real steps forward and this means to have opposition from Syria on the table; at the moment this is the real challenge; it is possible to convince them to participate because then this will be a real conference; otherwise there will be one single seat left in Geneva and this is not a good solution.
||SOUNDBITE by William Hague, British Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, (in ENGLISH) saying that it would be early to change the measures decided on in August; in any case, they support the democratic transition in Egypt, they want to see the adoption of a democratic constitution and the implementation of that; of course they would want it to be on an inclusive basis that is as successful as possible in the future so that Egypt has a stable and vibrant democracy; so they hope the Egyptian authorities will carry on with the roadmap, will implement a new constitution and elections but on as inclusive a basis as possible; that can be reviewed regularly.
||Arrival of Evangelos Venizelos, Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs (2 shots)
||Arrival of Gonzalo de Benito Secades, Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (2 shots)
||Arrival of Kristian Vigenin, Bulgarian Minister for Foreign Affairs (2 shots)
||SOUNDBITE by Linas Linkevičius, Lithuanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, (in ENGLISH) saying that there are 3 to 5 weeks left until the Eastern Partnership Summit; extra effort is needed from both sides; partners should deliver definitely but they also need support to counter the pressure and also to think about the measures of irreversibility of the reforms; they are on good tracks because they have already taken a decision about the provisional application of the agreement that should be signed; other measures were agreed as well; so they should think more about the inventory to give to the partners; Ukraine already moved on very important segments with regards to the electoral system, with regards to the prosecutor's office and the Commission provided quite positive assessment; so these are good news.
||SOUNDBITE by Eamon Gilmore, Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, (in ENGLISH) saying that he expects that they will be reviewing the situation in Syria, particularly in the light of the forthcoming Geneva II discussions and the work that has been done in relation to the chemical weapons; they will also be discussing the situation in Egypt; saying that he remains very concerned about the continuing violence in Egypt and also the detention without trial of some of the people who were involved in the protest activity; he is going to specifically raise the situation of four Irish citizens who were arrested in August at the time of the protests.
||SOUNDBITE by Guido Westerwelle, German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, (In ENGLISH) saying that it is important and decisive that the EU does its best to bring peace and sustainable development to Syria; therefore a political solution is necessary; that is achievable only if all parties are ready to negotiate; this is the reason why they support the Geneva II conference; this a very good initiative which was started by Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry; therefore all parties are urged to participate in this conference and to do their utmost to come to a political solution.
||Arrival of Štefan Füle, Member of the EC in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, and Karl Erjavec, Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs
||Arrival of Miroslav Lajčák, Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs
||Arrival of János Martonyi, Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs
||SOUNDBITE by Carl Bildt, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, (in ENGLISH) saying that the only solution is to have the peace conference going as soon as possible to close down the war; the EU is doing massive efforts to help the refugees, to get rid of chemical weapons, but nothing of this will happen at the end of the day if we don't have the peace conference and a deal based on the Geneva text; saying that another issue on the agenda is to look and review progress towards the Eastern Partnership Summit, focussing primarily on Ukraine; it is obvious that Ukraine has not yet fulfilled the conditions; saying that immediately after the Council meeting, Radosław Sikorski, Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, and himself will go to Chișinău, to Kiev and to Tbilisi to review those things.
||Arrival of Radosław Sikorski, Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs
||SOUNDBITE by Laurent Fabius, French Minister for Foreign Affairs, (in FRENCH) saying that in view of the information by "Le Monde", he has immediately summoned the US Ambassador and he will be received at the Quai d'Orsay; France has responded very strongly in June but apparently they should proceed further; this kind of practices between partners that expand to personal lives is totally unacceptable and we have to make sure that they are no longer performed.
||SOUNDBITE by Villy Søvndal, Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, (in ENGLISH) saying that the main obstacles are to be sure that the Syrian parties are going to participate, but of course also who is going to participate; he expects these questions to be solved; he expects that there will be a meeting in November.
||SOUNDBITE by Frans Timmermans, Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, (in ENGLISH) saying that there are many things that can be done: to reinforce cooperation in FRONTEX and other areas of patrolling the Mediterranean; to try and help strengthen stage structures and other structures in countries like Libya; to try and take away the reasons why people want to leave their country; that means providing more development cooperation to those countries where people are coming from, providing more security, making sure that people do not take the risk of drowning in the Mediterranean but try and build a future in their own country; so the issue has to be attacked from many angles.