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EU General Affairs Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcome was of the General Affairs Council held on 23 July; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [73529]

Peter Hain: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary represented the UK at the July Council. The Council adopted the ''A'' points listed in document 12354/1/02 PTS A 44 and noted the Resolutions, Decisions and Opinions of the European Parliament listed in document 10110/02.

Presidency Priorities

The Presidency presented its work programme, with emphasis on completing enlargement negotiations with up to 10 countries by Copenhagen. Greece, which will preside over Council discussions with defence implications, briefed on ESDP priorities, particularly progress towards the Headline Goal.


The Presidency presented its programme, underlining its commitment to respect the targets set by the European Council. This involves aiming to resolve all remaining non-budgetary aspects by September, with the objective of the Brussels European Council naming the countries that could conclude negotiations by the end of 2002 and taking decisions which will enable the EU to inform the candidates early in November about the financial aspects of the package. The UK strongly supports this approach.

Seville European Council: Follow-up

The Council adopted revised rules of procedure, incorporating the changes agreed at Seville and setting out the role and future areas of activity of the General Affairs and External Relations Council. The UK

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welcomes the reforms agreed at Seville. The Commission noted its intention to complete by September, as requested at Seville, a study on options for resolution of the transit issue affecting Kaliningrad.

Work in other Council Formations

The Presidency briefed, in particular noting the first discussion in the 15 July Agriculture Council of the mid-term review of the CAP, the debate in the 12 July ECOFIN on negotiations with Switzerland on taxation of savings and in the 19 July ECOFIN on the draft 2003 budget.


The Council confirmed that Zimbabwe was continuing to fail to respect its obligations in democracy, human rights and rule of law. The Council, with strong UK support, decided to extend the list of those in the ruling party and government affected by the EU measures set out in the 18 February Common Position. This will include all remaining Cabinet Ministers, Politburo Secretaries, Deputy Ministers, Assistant Secretaries of the Politburo and the wife of President Mugabe. The Council condemned the Mugabe government's land reforms as a major cause of the humanitarian crisis and urged Zimbabwe to implement the process agreed at Abuja in September 2001 and to review its land reform as proposed by UNDP in early 2002. The EU will continue to supply humanitarian aid to the people of Zimbabwe.

Southern Africa

The Council discussed the humanitarian crisis in the region, noting the EU's contribution of Euro130 million in food and humanitarian aid. It called on the governments in the region to work with the international community to address the underlying causes of the crisis.

Conflict Prevention

The CFSP High Representative and Commissioner Patten briefed on EU priorities in Conflict Prevention. The Council adopted Conclusions welcoming this work, and tasking the Political and Security Committee to keep it under review.

Middle East

Council Conclusions welcomed the outcome of the EU/US/UN/Russia (''Quartet'') meeting on 16 July and stressed the need for parallel work on economic, political and security issues. The Council underlined the need for a roadmap towards the goal, within 3 years, of a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Council endorsed the appeal by the Quartet for Israel to lift closures, withdraw their forces to positions held before 28 September 2000, resume transfer of revenues due to the Palestinian Authority and to stop settlement activity. The Council condemned the recent terrorist acts against Israeli civilians. The Council urged Israel to refrain from unjustified deportations.

Western Balkans

Conclusions called for protection of the rights of refugees and internally displaced across the region, for enhanced co-operation between states, noted progress

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in the FRY, including the recent understanding between the FRY and UNMIK in Kosovo, and noted forthcoming elections in Macdeonia and Bosnia.


Conclusions welcomed the outcome of the Loya Jirga and the new transitional government, and welcomed Turkey's assumption of command of the international force (ISAF). The Council noted the recent appointment of Fransesc Vendrell as EU Special Representative.


My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary briefed colleagues on his recent trip to India and Pakistan. Ministers underlined the importance that the elections in Pakistan and in Jammu and Kashmir to be held later in the year be free and fair. They invited SG/HR Solana to make this clear during his forthcoming visit to the region.

World Summit on Sustainable Development

The Presidency briefed on preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to take place in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002. The Council adopted Conclusions on the key messages for an EU Communication strategy for Johannesburg and on EU initiatives based on the Conclusions of the Seville European Council.


Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the political situation in Madagascar; and what recent action has been undertaken by representatives of Her Majesty's Government to protect free elections and the furtherance of democracy and defence of democratic institutions in Madagascar. [74157]

Mr. Macshane: On 24 September, Marc Ravalomanana, the President of Madagascar, announced that he would be dissolving the National Assembly and holding legislative elections before the end of the year. He sought international assistance to ensure that the elections would be held in a free and transparent manner.

UK election observers will form part of a 62 strong EU Election Observer team that will monitor the legislative elections. A contingent of 14 observers will arrive four weeks in advance of the elections to monitor the campaign, the investitures and official registration of candidates. The remainder of the team will arrive a week before the election date.

Our Embassy, along with EU colleagues, the US and major donors in Madagascar, will continue to work constructively with the Government of Madagascar to promote democratic governance and transparency.


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 9 August from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Mr. E. Stephen. [74563]

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Mr. Macshane: A reply was sent on 19 September. I apologise for the delay.

MOX Fuel

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library details of the representations made to the United Kingdom from en route countries in respect of the return shipment of rejected MOX fuel from Japan to Sellafield. [73552]

Mr. Macshane: The New Zealand High Commissioner called on the FCO on 12 July to make a formal representation regarding the return shipment of MOX fuel from Japan to Sellafield. This was an oral rather than written representation. There have been no other representations from en route countries in respect of this shipment.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Nigeria about the decision under Sharia law to stone to death Amina Lawal. [74324]

Mr. Macshane: During her recent visit to Nigeria my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, the Baroness Amos, raised with President Obasanjo HMG's concerns about the harsh sentences imposed under the Sharia penal codes. She emphasised the strength of feeling against them in the UK and reiterated HMG's opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances.

The British High Commission in Abuja, together with EU partners, follows all such cases closely and keeps in close contact with local human rights organisations. The High Commission regularly raises our concerns about the sentences with the appropriate authorities.

The Federal Government has made clear its opposition to the extreme Sharia penalties. It has declared them discriminatory and unconstitutional. Exercise of the Sharia penal code is, however, entirely under the control of the relevant States. The Federal justice system only comes into play if the defendant appeals to the Federal Appeal Courts.


Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the dates were of the 16 ministerial level meetings held under the Brussels Process between November 1984 and February 1999. [73981]

Peter Hain: Between November 1984 and February 1999, ministerial level meetings took place on: 26–27 November 1984; 5–6 February and 6 December 1985; 13–14 January, 27–28 November and 2 December 1987; 10 June 1988; 6–7 February 1989; 26 February 1990; 12 February 1991; 4 May 1992; 1 March 1993; 19–20 December 1994; 19 June 1995; and 22 January and 10 December 1997.

Since the relaunch of the Brussels Process in July 2001, three Brussels Process ministerial meetings have been held: on 26 July and 20 November 2001 and on 4 February 2002.

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