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5 Jan 2010 : Column 193W—continued


East Asia: EU Action

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the appointment of an EU special representative for human rights and security in East Asia, with particular reference to China and North Korea. [308018]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Responsibility for human rights and security in East Asia will be part of the remit of the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European External Action Service which she will manage. The UK will argue for the High Representative to place a high priority on these issues.

Eritrea

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 21 October 2009, Official Report, column 497W, on Eritrea, what the outcome was of the meeting of European Union heads of Mission and the Eritrean Government; what progress has been made in the dialogue on human rights issues; what reports he has received of the number of political prisoners in Eritrea; and if he will make a statement. [307917]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: EU Heads of Mission in Asmara met with members of the Eritrean Government on 19 November 2009 as part of an ongoing dialogue under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement-a forum promoting political dialogue and cooperation between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific states. The Eritrean Government said that the basic rights of the G11-eleven members of the then Eritrean Government that remain in prison
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since their arrest in 2001-were respected. There was discussion around aspects of human rights including the rights of children, women and the disabled, and in the education and health sectors. We continue to have very serious concerns, however, over many human rights issues in Eritrea, including the lack of political, media and religious freedom.

It is very difficult to know how many political prisoners are held in Eritrea. Access to prisons is extremely restricted and records of detainees are not made available. Estimates from human rights organisations vary considerably, ranging up to thirty thousand. We are unable to verify this, however.

Eritrea: Ethiopia

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his (a) European Union and (b) African Union counterparts on the implementation of the International Court of Justice ruling on the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia; and if he will make a statement. [307916]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, for which the Permanent Court of Arbitration served as registry, delivered its decision on the boundary dispute in April 2002. The dispute remains unresolved and impacts on the wider Horn of Africa security situation.

The Government discuss the issue of the border dispute in their bilateral meetings with the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The wider regional security situation has been discussed at ministerial level by my hon. Friend the Minister for Europe, Chris Bryant, at the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council in November 2009 and by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary with the Somali President Sheikh Sharif in September. Ambassador-level discussion took place at the African Union in October 2009.

European External Action Service

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether EU defence attach├ęs or military representatives are planned to form part of the EU's External Action Service; and if he will make a statement. [304347]

Chris Bryant: The detailed organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS) will be decided by EU member states by unanimity on the basis of a draft Decision from the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy with the consent of the European Commission and after consulting the European Parliament. But member states (endorsed by their comments to the October 2009 European Council) believe that the current European Security and Defence Policy and crisis management structures should be part of the EEAS. This includes the Military Staff while taking full account of the specificities of these structures and preserving their particular functions, procedures and staffing conditions. The European Council agreed that this Decision to establish the EEAS should be adopted by the end of April 2010.


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Falkland Islands: Land Mines

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken to mitigate potential adverse environmental effects arising from mine-clearing operations on the Falkland Islands. [309091]

Chris Bryant: The Government's contracted mine clearance programme for the Falkland Islands has the objective of safely clearing four land mine sites with minimal environmental impact. Pre-clearance activities undertaken by BACTEC International Ltd., the primary de-mining contractor, include submission to the Falkland Islands Environmental Planning department of an environmental restoration plan for each site to the conditions existing before contamination. This has been completed and clearance work is under way.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress the government of the Falkland Islands has made in meeting its obligations under the Ottawa Treaty on mine clearance. [309092]

Chris Bryant: The Government are responsible as a state party to the Ottawa convention for removing anti-personnel mines from the Falkland Islands, as a British Overseas Territory.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently funding a four-site clearance programme, which started on 4 December 2009 and is expected to be completed by the middle of 2010. The sites form a representative sample of the islands' varied terrain and contain a significant quantity of mines. The results of this programme will inform future work.

The Falkland Islands Government have been and will continue to be consulted on all issues related to de-mining.

Falkland Islands: Oil

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's most recent estimate is of the volume of oil deposits off the Falkland Islands. [309093]

Chris Bryant: Companies have not yet found hydrocarbons in commercially viable quantities in Falkland Islands waters. Exploratory drilling is expected to recommence in early 2010 and we will wait for the results of that exploration.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures are being taken to mitigate potential adverse environmental effects arising from drilling for oil off the Falkland Islands. [309094]

Chris Bryant: Companies drilling in Falkland Islands waters must take the same measures they would if they were drilling in UK waters. All companies have to complete environmental impact assessments which must be approved by the Falkland Islands Government in consultation with the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The Government also fund external reviews of assessments by UK institutions such as the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment and the Scottish Association of Marine Science.


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Falkland Islands: Tourism

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of tourists who have arrived in the Falkland Islands in each year since 2005; and how many such tourists arrived by cruise ship in each such year. [309080]

Chris Bryant: Responsibility for tourism in the Falkland Islands rests with the Falkland Islands Government who hold the requested information.

Fiji: Diplomatic Relations

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the state of relations between Fiji and the UK; and if he will make a statement. [308361]

Chris Bryant: I refer my hon. Friend to my previous answer on 27 November 2009, Official Report, column 423W. The UK does not regard the current regime as a legitimate, democratically elected government and we continue to raise our concerns over the human rights situation in Fiji. My most recent statement on Fiji was made after the expulsion of the Australian and New Zealand envoys in which I expressed deep disappointment at the regime's actions but noted that diplomatic channels must be kept open. We continue to engage with the regime at official level to get across our key messages with the aim of encouraging Fiji towards a return to democratic principles, the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights.

Gibraltar: Territorial Waters

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have made to the European Court of Justice in respect of the application by the Government of Gibraltar to reverse the designation by Spain of Gibraltarian territorial waters as a site of Community importance for the Mediterranean biogeographical region for which Spain is responsible. [306662]

Chris Bryant: The UK has sought and received permission from the European General Court to intervene in support of the government of Gibraltar's application seeking annulment of Commission Decision 2009/95/EC updating a list of sites of Community importance for the Mediterranean biogeographical region insofar as it relates to the "Estrecho Oriental" site.

We have made representations to both the European Commission and Spain in order to object to their actions in this matter and have placed on record that the UK does not recognise the validity of the Spanish listing. We object that Spain should have sought to have an area of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) listed and that this listing should have been approved. The UK is the only State competent to propose a site of Community importance within BGTW.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of Gibraltar on the dispute over British Gibraltar territorial waters. [309096]


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Chris Bryant: We are in regular contact with the Government of Gibraltar on this matter and related issues. We fully support the Government of Gibraltar on the dispute over the Spanish listing of "Estrecho Oriental" as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) under the Habitats Directive.

The United Kingdom has sought and received permission from the European General Court to intervene in support of the Government of Gibraltar's application for annulment of Commission Decision 2009/95/EC updating a list of SCIs for the Mediterranean biogeographical region insofar as it relates to the "Estrecho Oriental" site.

Meanwhile officials from the UK, Spain and Gibraltar are committed to working together through the trilateral forum to improve environmental co-operation.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the Spanish government's recent assertion of claims to waters off the coast of Gibraltar under the designation of EU environmental protection on (a) fishing rights, (b) aerospace considerations and (c) development rights. [309101]

Chris Bryant: The UK does not recognise the validity of the listing of a Site of Community Importance (SCI) in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) by Spain since the UK is the only member state competent to propose a site covering BGTW. We are fully confident of the United Kingdom's sovereignty of BGTW.

Government Hospitality: Wines

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 15 December 2009 to the hon. Member for Monmouth, Official Report, column 1033W, on Government Departments: wine, how many bottles of wine from each (a) region of origin and (b) vintage are held in the Government hospitality wine cellar. [309243]

Chris Bryant: It is not possible to give a detailed breakdown of the numbers of bottles per vintage of each country and region without incurring disproportionate costs. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the then Under-Secretary of State Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Gillian Merron) to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 20 April 2009, Official Report, column 512W.

Horn of Africa: EU Action

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 28 October 2009, Official Report, column 498W, on the Horn of Africa: EU, what progress has been made on the appointment of a European Union special representative to the Horn of Africa. [307915]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Further discussion on the appointment of an EU special representative (EUSR) to the Horn of Africa recently took place at EU working group level in the context of the conclusions on the Horn of Africa agreed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) of December 2009. It was agreed that should a decision be taken to appoint an EUSR for the Horn of Africa, the terms of reference should reflect the EU policy adopted at the December 2009 GAERC and facilitate its implementation.


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Iran: Politics and Government

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made recent representations to the Iranian Government on Baha'is in Iran. [309176]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Alongside our EU partners we have expressed concerns about the treatment of the Baha'i community in Iran to the Iranian Government on several occasions. The EU Presidency summoned the Iranian Ambassador on 10 July 2009, and expressed deep concern about the overall situation of the Baha'is in Iran, especially the charges 'espionage and "corruption on earth"' against the seven Baha'i leaders imprisoned for over a year without trial. Most recently, on 18 December 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on human rights in Iran for the seventh consecutive year. The resolution condemns 'attacks on Baha'is and their faith in State-sponsored media, increasing evidence of efforts by the State to identify, monitor and arbitrarily detain Baha'is, preventing members of the Baha'i faith from attending university and from sustaining themselves economically'. We will continue to urge Iran to respect the right to freedom of religion and belief as described in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a State Party.

Iraq: Casualties

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Iraqi locally employed civilians have been killed as a result of their association with the Government since 9 October 2009. [307855]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are not aware of any such killings since 9 October 2009.

Israel: Borders

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when HM Ambassador to Israel most recently visited the Karni crossing. [306794]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Officials from our embassy in Tel Aviv regularly visit the Karni crossing. Karni is the largest crossing point between Israel and Gaza and is covered by the 2005 agreement on movement and access between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It is the only crossing configured to cope with large-scale flows of humanitarian relief and the commercial imports and exports on which the restoration of the Gazan economy will depend.

Kirsty MacColl

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with (a) his Mexican counterpart and (b) the Mexican Ambassador to the UK in the case of Kirsty MacColl; and if he will make a statement. [308356]

Chris Bryant: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not had any discussions this year, on the case of Kirsty MacColl, with either the Mexican Foreign Minister or the Mexican ambassador to the UK. However, our embassy in Mexico City will continue to monitor any developments in the case.


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Kosovo: Politics and Government

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on Kosovo's declaration of independence; and if he will make a statement. [307788]

Chris Bryant: The UK abstained on the UN General Assembly resolution seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence. We strongly support the Court, but believe that Serbia's primary motivation for the question was political and that the resolution was pushed through with insufficient debate on its substance.

The UK has participated actively in the Court's proceedings, making two written submissions and an oral statement.

The UK explained to the Court that the declaration of independence was not incompatible with either general international law or UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244. UNSCR 1244 set a framework for status negotiations; it did not predestine any particular outcome. The negotiating process was pursued with commitment by many, including the international community. However, these exhaustive attempts to achieve an agreed resolution ultimately failed. This led the UN Special Envoy for the Future Status Process for Kosovo to conclude that independence was the only viable solution.

A number of very particular factual circumstances, including the violent break-up of Yugoslavia, serious human rights abuses against Kosovo Albanians by Serbia, and the sustained involvement of the international community in the attempt to achieve a resolution make Kosovo a sui generis case which creates no wider precedent for developments elsewhere.

To date, 64 countries have recognised Kosovo and it is now a member of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The clock cannot be turned back on Kosovo's independence-it is a reality.

The text of the UK submissions to the Court is available on the ICJ website:


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