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10 Jan 2005 : Column 15W—continued

Expatriate Communities

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries he estimates to have the 20 largest expatriate communities of UK citizens; and how many UK citizens he estimates live in each. [204456]

Mr. Mullin: The following estimated figures are taken from the 2003–04 Consular Annual Returns from overseas posts. There is no requirement for UK citizens to register with British missions overseas and those that have represent only a small fraction of the estimated numbers provided in the list.
CountryEstimated British Community 2003–04
South Africa820,000
New Zealand450,000
Irish Republic300,000
United Arab Emirates107,437

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Foreign Dignitaries (Gifts)

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the (a) amount spent, (b) name of the recipient and (c) item provided in respect of gifts for foreign dignitaries since 1997. [204455]

Mr. Straw: This information is not held centrally within my Department, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Very few such gifts are in any event made.

General Affairs Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcome was of the General Affairs and External Relations Council held on 13 December; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [205281]

Mr. MacShane: The information is as follows:

Outcome of the 13 December 2004 General Affairs and External Relations Council

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, John Grant (UK Permanent Representative to the EU) and I represented the UK at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) in Brussels on 13 December.

Conclusions were agreed on: ESDP, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Great Lakes, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Colombia and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

General Affairs Session

Preparation for the 17 December European Council

The Council examined draft conclusions prepared by the Presidency for the European Council to be held in Brussels on 16–17 December, dealing in particular with the conclusion of membership negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania and the opening of negotiations with Turkey and Croatia. Work on the draft conclusions is likely to continue in the run-up to the European Council;

The main items that the European Council is due to discuss are as follows:

Annual Programme of the Council (2005)

The Council took note of the presentation by the incoming Luxembourg and United Kingdom presidencies of a draft operational programme of the Council for 2005. The document is the result of a negotiation between both countries and therefore reflects the UK's views, but is not a definitive statement of what the UK will take forward in the second half of the year. Rather it is intended as a flexible menu of issues likely to be pursued next year and will form the basis of
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discussions with UK stakeholders and others as the UK Presidency programme is refined. It was agreed without discussion. Copies will be made available in the Library of the House.

External Relations Session


The Council gave its full support for the negotiating process, which started on 13 December, on a long-term arrangement with Iran. This was in light of the IAEA's confirmation of full suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities by Tehran. The EU will resume negotiations with Iran on a draft Trade and Cooperation Agreement. As a member of the E3 (UK, Germany and France) the Government played a major part in negotiating Iran's decision to suspend fully all enrichment related and reprocessing activities. It welcomes the continued negotiations for long-term arrangements.


Over lunch, Ministers gave their full support to the work of High Representative Solana and the Lithuanian and Polish Presidents. The Council welcomed the political agreement reached in Ukraine on 8 December that together with the Supreme Court's ruling on 3 December paved the way for a free and fair rerun of the second round of presidential elections. The EU will contribute substantially to the OSCE international election observation mission. There will be a declaration at the European Council. The Government are pleased that the situation in Ukraine remains peaceful and that a solution was reached within Ukraine's legal framework. As the Foreign Secretary said in his statement to the House on 29 November, Official Report, column 359, the Government look forward to an outcome to the elections that reflects the will of the Ukrainian people.

China Arms Embargo

Over lunch, Ministers held an exchange of views concerning the EU arms embargo against China, following the 8 December EU-China Summit at which the EU had confirmed its political will to continue to work towards lifting the embargo.

The Government support the decision of the European Council in December 2003 to review the EU arms embargo on China. This review is on-going—it was last discussed by EU Foreign Ministers at the 22 November GAERC. The Government do not wish to exclude any options for the review, nor to pre-empt the conclusion of the review. The Government continue to implement the arms embargo as set out by the then Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the late Derek Fatchett, in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) on 3 June 1998, Official Report, columns 240–41.

Middle East Peace Process

The Presidency noted that Ministers would return to the subject at the European Council. A Declaration will be agreed.


Ministers discussed the action plans set up within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) for Israel, Jordan, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Ukraine and Tunisia. The Council endorsed these seven action plans, which will
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now be forwarded to the relevant association or co-operation councils for implementation. Ukraine's action plan will be launched as soon as possible following the completion of free and fair presidential elections. The Government agree with this course of action.

Great Lakes

The Commission said Commissioner Michel would be visiting the region on 15–19 December. The agreed Conclusions expressed the Council's deep concern about reports of military operations by Rwandan armed forces in the DRC and condemned any threat to and violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC. The Council underlined the importance of addressing the key problem of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe, which was undermining peace and security in the region and constituted a source of instability and a threat to the local population as well as an impediment to good neighbourly relations.

The Council stressed the importance of the continued transition process in the DRC, especially in the preparation of elections and in the implementation of the necessary reforms. It called upon all countries of the region to give the transition in the DRC all their support. The Government welcome the agreed conclusions. It is important that the international community speaks with one voice to dissuade Rwanda from any action contrary to international law. The current crisis highlights the need to resolve the problem of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe to prevent further crises, address Rwandan security concerns and prevent further human rights abuses in DRC.


The Presidency drew attention to the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Darfur and reminded the Council that pressure needed to be maintained on all parties, both to improve the security situation and to facilitate the rapid conclusion of the North/South process. Conclusions were agreed. These noted the latest report of the UN Secretary-General to the UN Security Council and its concern about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Darfur. The Council condemns attacks and other ceasefire violations by all parties in the Darfur conflict and urges them to respect the ceasefire agreements. The Council recalls its previous conclusions and underlines that the EU will continue to monitor the situation in Darfur and will consider to take appropriate measures which could include sanctions, against the Government of Sudan as well as the rebel groups, in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1556 and 1564, if no tangible progress is achieved in this respect.

The Government remain gravely concerned by the latest report by the Secretary-General on Darfur. It highlights the need for continued EU political pressure on all the parties to abide by the two Abuja Protocols; it also underlines the need for increased logistical, technical and financial assistance to the AU, and for the AU to expedite deployment of its civilian police component. It welcomes the UN Workplan for 2005 for $1.5 billion for the whole of Sudan. The Government welcome any analysis on sanctions, should they become necessary.
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AOB—EU/Africa Dialogue

The Council took note of a presentation by Portuguese Foreign Minster Monteiro on the question of a second Africa-Europe Summit (after the April 2000 Cairo Summit), following the exchange of views on that subject at the EU-African Union Ministerial Troika meeting in Addis Ababa on 6 December. The President noted that the issue would be further discussed under the incoming Luxembourg Presidency.


Italian Foreign Minister Fini brought to the Council's attention that in the context of an immigration mission to Libya, the Libyan authorities were willing to co-operate with the EU authorities. The Italians requested the use of the AENEAS programme (EU migration funding) to help the Libyans. The Presidency took note. The Government welcome the cooperation between Italy and Libya and Italy's request to extend the AENEAS programme to Libya.

AOB— Guinea Bissau

The Council heard an intervention by Portuguese Foreign Minister Monteiro on the situation in Guinea Bissau as well as on the question of the resumption of the budgetary support programme. On the latter issue, the Commission reaffirmed its readiness to explore possible solutions in order to enable aid to be resumed. The Government currently provide multilateral support through the UN, EU and international financial institutions.

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