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Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to make a final response to the letter from the hon. Member for Bolton, South-East, of 7 October 2004, regarding the case of Mr. Mohammed Howaz's daughter-in-law, ref. GV100/83465. 
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the impact on the stabilisation process of Cote d'Ivoire of the proposed referendum on the presidential candidature of Alassane Ouattara; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mullin: We support the package of actions for all parties set out in the Linas Marcoussis (LMA) and Accra III Agreements, and believe that these offer the best hope for lasting peace in Cote d'Ivoire.
We recognise, as does the African Union, that a referendum is one of the options for changing the nationality requirements for presidential candidature (Article 35) but share their view that there needs to be a speedy solution to this issue in compliance with the spirit of the LMA and Accra III.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will press the European Union to consider imposing sanctions against Eritrea in response to its treatment of evangelical Christians. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the government of Eritrea on (a) releasing evangelical Christians arrested on new year's eve in Asmara, (b) official recognition of the evangelical Protestant Christian denominations in Eritrea and (c) detentions of evangelical Christians; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mullin: We raise the issue of religious freedom with the Eritrean Government regularly. Our Ambassador last raised the matter on 13 December and I raised it with President Isaias in Asmara during my visit there in January last year. We will continue to make clear our concern.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's priorities for the General Affairs and External Relations Council will be during the United Kingdom's Presidency of the European Union; and if he will make a statement. 
Taking forward as appropriate the accession processes of the four candidate countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Turkey. This is likely to include finalising the negotiating mandate for Turkey to enable the launch of its negotiations on 3 October as well as consideration of the Commission Regular Reports on each of the candidate countries.
The UK Presidency will also respond to events and pursue the objective of global stability through continued development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) including the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), along the lines set out in the European Security Strategy (ESS). An important aspect will be to work closely with the United States.
Work will continue to develop the EU's relations with its neighbours through the European Neighbourhood Policy including developing relations with Ukraine following the recent elections. The EU will also continue to build up its strategic relationship with Russia.
Work will continue to resolve the situation in the Middle East, through the implementation of the Road Map, and to address the situation in Iran, including the issue of Iran's nuclear programme. The General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will continue to implement the EU strategy for Iraq in partnership with the Iraqi government with the objective of achieving a stable, democratic and prosperous future as envisaged in United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1546.
Work will continue to develop the EU's relations with Africa, taking into account work going on in the G8 context and the recommendations of the Commission for Africa. Particular attention will be paid to reducing poverty, economic development, prevention management and resolution of conflict and improving governance. In Latin America the GAERC will aim to make further progress to finalise the EU-Mercosur negotiations. The GAERC will continue to build up strategic partnerships with China, India and Japan.
In the field of military crisis management, particular attention will be devoted to the running of the EU Force operation Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2005, the two first six-monthly reviews of the operation will be carried out. The Union will remain active in the field of civilian crisis management and look to implement the action plan for the future of civilian ESDP. The EU will continue to run effectively the ongoing mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia, and Georgia.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what sanctions would be available under the proposed EU constitution against member states in breach of their duty under Articles I-16 (a) actively and unreservedly to support the Union's common foreign and security policy and (b) to refrain from action contrary to the Union's interests or likely to impair its effectiveness. 
Mr. MacShane: The Article I-16 obligations referred to in the question are in substance the same as those first set out in Article J.1 (4) of the Maastricht treaty (currently Article 11(2) TEU). As under the Maastricht treaty and the treaty on European Union, member states are under the constitutional treaty required to comply in good faith with their treaty obligations, including those relating to the common foreign and security policy mentioned in Article I-16. Any consequences which might follow if a member state failed to fulfil its obligations would depend on the circumstances. But the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice is excluded from common foreign and security policy issues by Article III-376.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether a derogation from EU Treaty provisions was granted to the United Kingdom which allows dual membership of the House of Lords and the European Parliament; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. MacShane: The Act concerning the election of the representatives of the European Parliament (annexed to Council Decision 76/787 of 20 September 1976 as amended by Council Decision 2002/772), provides that, from the European Parliament elections in 2004, the office of member of the European Parliament shall be incompatible with that of member of a national parliament. That Article also provides that, by way of derogation from that rule, members of the United Kingdom Parliament who were also members of the European Parliament during the five year term preceding election to the European Parliament in 2004 may have a dual mandate until the 2009 European Parliament elections.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current position with regard to (a) Mr. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, imprisoned in Pakistan, and (b) his Department's involvement in this case. 
We continue to raise the case of Mr. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh with the Pakistani authorities in London and Islamabad. We have offered consular assistance to Mr. Sheikh and shall continue to seek clarification on whether he wishes to take up this offer.
20 Jan 2005 : Column 1059W
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