Foreign Affairs Council, 3267th meeting: extracts from the press conference by Catherine Ashton

Type: Press conference - summary   Référence: I082683   Durée: 05:01  Lieu: Luxembourg - Council
On 21 October 2013, Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, chaired the 3267th meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg. After the Council, Catherine Ashton held a press conference where she announced that the meeting began with a debate on the preparations for the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius on 28-29 November 2013 as well as a discussion on Ukraine's progress in implementing the EU's benchmarks for signing the Association Agreement with the EU. On the Southern neighbourhood, Ministers took stock of the situation in Egypt, as a follow-up to the extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council held in August, and discussed about Syria and Libya. Ministers also had a short exchange on Myanmar/Burma and met with Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson and General Secretary of the National League for Democracy of Burma/Myanmar and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

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00:00:00 Arrival of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, to the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg (2 shots) 00:00:08
00:00:08 Soundbite by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH): We have just had a very good working lunch with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who joined with all Ministers on my invitation. Especially, we were interested to discuss how we can support the democratic transition in Myanmar/Burma. You know that we have already lifted our sanctions that we reinstated GSP duty free and quota-free access, that we are doubling our development aid and we are supporting the peace process but we recognise there is much more to be done to complete this process, this transition to democracy and, particularly, we recognise there is a lot to do on constitutional change to get ready for the free and fair elections in 2015. 00:00:50
00:00:58 Cutaway of cameramen 00:00:04
00:01:02 Soundbite by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH): We began the meeting this morning with a discussion on the preparation for the Eastern Partnership Summit which is in Vilnius on the 28th and 29th of November. No question that the debate showed and confirmed the ambition we have for this summit and there is no question too that we will make every efforts to make it a success just strengthen and deepen our collaboration with our Eastern partners individually as well as as a group. 00:00:31
00:01:32 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:04
00:01:36 Soundbite by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH): We have also started to review the progress Ukraine has made in fulfilling the benchmarks and as you all know we remain committed tot trying to move forward with each of the partners and you will have known from previous discussions that different elements of how those relationships will be taken forward up to Vilnius, beyond Vilnius, as we prepare for what should happen next with each one. 00:00:29
00:02:05 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:03
00:02:08 Soundbite by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH): We also spent some time discussing our Southern neighbourhood. I had the chance to debrief Ministers on my most recent visit to Egypt where I met again with representatives of the different groups in society including this time the Grand Imam and the Coptic Pope. I expressed the desire to continue the strong partnership we have with Egypt, our determination to push forward in assisting its transition to the democratic future that people went to Tahrir Square in January 2011 to gain and continuing to support the most in need in Egypt and of course civil society. 00:00:43
00:02:51 Cutaway of a cameraman 00:00:04
00:02:55 Soundbite by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH): As always we talked about the deteriorating situation in Syria. From recent reports from those who visited on my behalf we are very conscious of growing disease and real terrible malnutrition becoming a serious problem there. You know that I have said consistently and the EU has said consistently we need to get a political solution and we more than never urge that we will see what we have called Geneva II take place and I hope the beginning of Geneva II will take place in the course of November. There is no alternative to finding that political solution. 00:00:42
00:03:37 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:04
00:03:41 Soundbite by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH): I am also very pleased too to see the progress that has been made in dealing with the chemical weapons. We have been contributing to the work that has been going on on the ground, we provided the armed vehicles that they need and we have been providing other logistical support and we will continue to do so but we are also extremely aware of the humanitarian crisis that is happening there, we continue to be the biggest donor, that stands at almost 2 billion Euros in total. And you'll see from the Council conclusions that we have also concluded common EU messages on the humanitarian aspect. 00:00:37
00:04:19 Cutaway of the audience 00:00:04
00:04:22 Soundbite by Catherine Ashton (in ENGLISH): We also talked about Libya and we reiterated our determination to support the political transition. It is a very challenging security situation highlighted perhaps especially by the abduction of the Prime Minister recently. Of course, we were very well aware too of the Lampedusa tragedy which is underlining the challenges that we face; we express our sorrow for the victims and we recognise the courage of those who have been rescuing people in very difficult circumstances. 00:00:32
00:04:54 Catherine Ashton leaving the press room 00:00:07
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