Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Diplomatic Service

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to protect staff working in HM embassies from security threats. [208094]

Mr Lidington: Staff in our overseas posts face a range of security threats, which are currently running at a historically high level. We monitor the risks carefully, and manage them rigorously using a mix of threat assessment, security advice, staff training and provision of specialist security equipment.


Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the strength of business relations between the UK and Estonia. [208098]

Mr Lidington: Business relations between the UK and Estonia are stronger than ever and continue to improve. In 2013 the UK was the eighth largest exporter to Estonia, totalling 571.1 million EUR or 4.2% of total Estonian imports. This share has more than doubled since 2010. In 2013 the top UK exports were: machinery and mechanical appliances; food and beverages; vehicles, aircraft, vessels; transport equipment; mineral products; chemicals or allied industries. In 2013 Estonian exports to the UK totalled 294.7 million EUR or 2.4% of Estonian exports. Through joint planning and activity, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) are continuing to deepen their partnership with their Estonian counterparts.

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Middle East

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to support the Israeli Government in their campaign against Hamas. [208099]

Mr Ellwood: Throughout Operation Protective Edge, we condemned Hamas’ indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians and reaffirmed our support to Israel’s right to self defence. We have also repeatedly made clear that Hamas must renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept previously signed agreements. Hamas need to be part of any ceasefire negotiations in response to the current Gaza crisis—we support Egyptian-led efforts to this end. Today, the UK has three objectives—to maintain a ceasefire, to alleviate humanitarian suffering, and to get meaningful negotiations underway so that we can begin to address the underlying causes of the conflict on both sides, which is the only hope of breaking this cycle of violence and devastation once and for all. We stand ready to play our full part in supporting a settlement.


Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his European counterparts on further sanctions against Russia. [208107]

Mr Lidington: Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), and I have regularly discussed Russia, including sanctions, with European colleagues. Most recently, further sanctions were discussed at the Gymnich on 29 and 30 August, the European Council on 30 August, and at the NATO summit in Wales on 4 and 5 September.

Saudi Arabia

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Saudi Arabian Government over their financial and logistical support for Islamic State terrorists in Syria. [207997]

Mr Ellwood: The UK and Saudi Arabia maintain a close dialogue on a broad range of counter-terrorism issues, including terrorist financing and logistical support. The Saudi Government are acutely aware of the threat from terrorist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to their own and global security and they have been at the forefront of efforts to combat the threat facing us all. Saudi Arabia has a comprehensive set of laws in place to prevent terrorist financing, which they vigorously enforce.

Sri Lanka

Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he plans to take through the Commonwealth and UN to secure Sri Lanka's compliance with the UN Human Rights Committee's resolution on the war crimes and civil rights investigation. [208355]

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Mr Swire: We welcome the passing of the UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka on 27 March, which established an international investigation into alleged violations and abuses of international law on both sides of the military conflict in Sri Lanka, in addition to calling for progress on human rights and reconciliation. The UK was a main co-sponsor of the resolution and will continue to give full support to the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in establishing an international investigation, as mandated by the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN resolution calls upon the Sri Lankan Government to co-operate with the OHCHR in the implementation of the resolution. We continue to urge the Sri Lankan Government to co-operate with the OHCHR, and to view the international investigation as an opportunity to address the grievances of the past in the spirit of lasting peace and reconciliation. We also continue to call for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, and the Commonwealth Secretary-General, to use their leverage to encourage Sri Lanka’s co-operation.

Ukraine: Russia

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contingency plans are in place for the eventuality that Russia continues to place troops in Ukraine. [208093]

Mr Lidington: The situation in eastern Ukraine is of grave concern. The 18 August European Council condemned the increasing inflows of fighters and weapons from the territory of the Russian Federation into eastern Ukraine as well as the aggression by Russian armed forces on Ukrainian soil. It called upon the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw all its military forces from Ukraine. In response to the ongoing action against Ukraine’s territorial integrity the EU has imposed sectoral measures against Russia in addition to measures already imposed in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea. We called on the European Commission to continue work on further measures to act as a further deterrent to Russia and to ensure we are prepared to apply greater costs if Russia continues on its path, this work is progressing swiftly in Brussels. On 5 September, The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Runnymead and Weybridge (Mr Hammond) expressed determination to impose further sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine if a ceasefire was not reached and upheld.

NATO has also been working to help strengthen Ukraine’s security capability, and undertaken a number of reassurance measures for Allies. The UK is playing

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an active role and offering significant contributions to NATO efforts. As part of reassurance measures, the UK is contributing four Typhoons to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission and a Sentry E-3D aircraft, as part of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force. We are also augmenting NATO exercises in which we were already participating and contributing to new ones. At the NATO Summit on 5 September, the Prime Minister stated that the UK would always uphold Article 5 commitments to collective self-defence and expressed the hope that a multi-national spearhead force deployable anywhere in the world in just 2 to 5 days would be formed.

Mr David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of whether the actions of the Russian Federation in relation to Ukraine are compliant with the provisions of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. [208218]

Mr Lidington: The situation in Ukraine remains of very grave concern to the UK, and Russia's actions have presented the most serious security crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War. With international partners we have unreservedly condemned all illegal interventions by Russia in Ukraine. In particular, the UK does not, and will not, recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia. This violates the UN Charter, is illegal under international law and breaches the commitments Russia made in the Budapest Memorandum. That is why Russia has been isolated in the Security Council and in the wider international community. We have, as required under the the terms of the memorandum, consulted the US frequently since the occupation and annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of the east by Russian-backed separatists. Both the US and UK continue to ensure that Russia pays a price through sanctions for the annexation of Crimea and its incursion into south-eastern Ukraine; we will maintain our pressure on Russia to use its influence to de-escalate the situation in the east.

The Budapest Memorandum does not specify any military commitments. In this Memorandum, in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons, Russia joined the UK and US in reaffirming their obligation to “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” Russia is in clear breach of those commitments as well as a number of other international obligations and commitments, including under the UN Charter and the OSCE Helsinki Final Act.