Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  I am writing to let your Committee know of plans to amend the mandate of the existing EU Special Representative (EUSR) to Central Asia. The previous EUSR to Central Asia, Jan Kubis, vacated his post in July following his appointment as Foreign Minister of the Slovak Republic. Javier Solana is currently looking for a successor to Jan Kubis. In my view there are strong arguments for agreeing the Council Joint Action needed to appoint Jan Kubis's successor in September, to enable an early appointment. However, I am writing to highlight this issue as it would require an override of parliamentary scrutiny.

  If the Joint Action were not agreed in September then Mr Kubis's successor would not be able to take up their post until October. This is a crucial period in the EU's relations with Central Asia. In particular the EU will be considering the future of relations with Uzbekistan following the recent troika visit, possible action on Uzbekistan at the Human Rights Council in September and the renewal of targeted measures in October. It will also be considering Kazakhstan's bid for the Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2009. The EUSR plays an important role in these considerations, and I believe that early appointment of Mr Kubis's successor is crucial.

  If the Joint Action is adopted in September, this would unfortunately mean that there is not enough time for your Committee to scrutinise the decision. In the light of the need to allow a continued EUSR presence in Central Asia I hope that your Committee will understand that I am reluctant to ask the Council to postpone its decision until after scrutiny has been completed.

  I will of course write to update you as soon as Mr Kubis's successor has been appointed. I would be grateful to know as soon as possible whether you have any objection to this way of proceeding.

3 September 2006

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