GENERAL AFFAIRS AND EXTERNAL RELATIONS
COUNCIL, BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister
for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman
The next GAERC will be held in Brussels on 15
September. I will represent the UK. The agenda items are as follows:
The WTO Round remains a possible item for the
GAERC. Little progress has been made since the end of July. If
the WTO remains on the agenda, we expect Peter Mandelson to brief
Partners, including on the meeting of the G20 group of advanced
developing countries he attended on 9-10 September in Rio.
We expect discussion and Conclusions to focus
on the Montenegrin and Bosnian elections.
There is an urgent need to persuade President
Bashir to stop his military offensive in Darfur, accept transition
to a UN force and allow the African Union forces to remain in
Darfur until the UN takes over. Our key objective is to ensure
that the EU plays an active, visible and high level role in achieving
this. We are expecting Conclusions.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The Presidency have yet to decide whether there
will be Conclusions on DRC. If Conclusions are adopted, we would
expect them to focus on the political tensions between President
Kabila and Vice President Bemba and the need for the second round
of elections to take place on 29 October.
Middle East Peace Process (MEPP)
The GAERC is likely to continue the Gymnich
discussion on the EU's role in, and contribution to, the MEPP.
I will debrief ministers on the Prime Minister's visit to the
region and the Foreign Secretary's recent visit to Egypt.
On Lebanon we expect discussion to focus on
how the EU can support implementation of UNSCR 1701. I will also
debrief Partners on the work currently being undertaken by the
UK's Security Sector Reform Scoping team which has visited Beirut,
Washington, Paris and Rome in recent weeks.
High Representative Solana may brief the Council
on his meeting with Larijani on 9-10 September. The Council may
also be briefed on the E3+3 Political Directors preparatory meeting
in Berlin on 7 September to discuss next steps at the Security
Council. The Presidency are planning Conclusions, mainly on the
There was a meeting of the Preparatory Group
of the International Compact for Iraq in Abu Dhabi on 10 September
where the Government of Iraq and UN briefed on the scope and proposed
content of the Compact. This meeting provided wider political
endorsement of the Iraqi vision for the Compact ahead of the discussion
at UNGA on 18 September. We want the GAERC to endorse the Compact,
ensuring a positive framework for discussions at UNGA.
AOB: EU co-operation with the Black Sea region
Greece have asked for EU co-operation with the
Black Sea region to be added to the GAERC agenda as an AOB item.
12 September 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP to the
The General Affairs and External Relations Council
(GAERC) took place on 15 September in Brussels. I represented
The agenda items were as follows:
The Council adopted Conclusions on recent elections
in Montenegro and forthcoming elections in Bosnia, expressing
its concern about inflammatory rhetoric in Bosnia and emphasising
that elections scheduled for 1 October should be conducted in
accordance with international standards.
The Council also agreed Conclusions on Serbia,
expressing readiness to resume negotiations on a Stabilisation
and Association Agreement as soon as full cooperation with ICTY
is achieved and urging the Serbian authorities to step up their
efforts in implementing the Action Plan.
There was agreement in the Council among Member
States, High Representative Solana and Commissioner Michel to
increase diplomatic pressure on Khartoum to comply with UNSCR
1706 to accept transition to a UN mission.
The Council adopted Conclusions stressing its
concern about the deterioration of the security and humanitarian
situation in Darfur and expressing firm support for UNSCR 1706,
which expands the mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to
Darfur. The Conclusions also reiterated the EU's readiness to
support the efforts of the UN and others in planning for the transition
from the African Union Mission (AMIS) to the UN and urged the
Sudanese Government to give its consent to the deployment of the
High Representative Solana briefed on his recent
trip to Kinshasa.
The Council adopted Conclusions welcoming the
meeting between President Kabila and Vice-president Bemba on 13
September and noting that cooperation between the EU military
operation EUFOR RD Congo and MONUC, together with the EU's reinforced
police mission in Kinshasa (EUPOL Kinshasa), had proven instrumental
in maintaining stability during the electoral process.
The Council adopted Conclusions stressing its
commitment to supporting the implementation of UNSCR 1701 and
welcoming the early deployment of the Lebanese army in southern
Lebanon and the substantial contribution by EU Member States to
the reinforced UNIFIL mission.
The Conclusions called on the Presidency, High
Representative Solana and the Commission to produce a report on
a possible European contribution on the Lebanese-Syrian border
and also underlined the EU's commitment to assist the Lebanese
government in taking forward reforms in a number of areas.
The Council adopted Conclusions: underlining
its commitment towards the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict; welcoming the announcement by Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas of an agreement to form a government of national
unity; and expressing the hope that its political platform would
reflect the Quartet principles.
High Representative Solana briefed the Council
on his meetings with the Secretary-General of the Iranian Supreme
National Security Council, Dr Ali Larijani on 9-10 September.
The Council took note of the report by IAEA
Director-General El Baradei of 31 August 2006, which concluded
that Iran had not complied with UNSCR 1696 and agreed that it
was now appropriate to consider next steps.
The Council adopted Conclusions welcoming progress
in developing the Iraqi International Compact and reaffirming
the EU's readiness to participate actively in the Compact process.
AOB: EU COOPERATION
The Council took note of the request by Greek
Foreign Minister Bakoyannis for the EU to strengthen its relations
with the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and
to develop a comprehensive policy towards the Black Sea region.
AOB: FIGHT AGAINST
Ministers reiterated their commitment to combating
terrorism in accordance with international humanitarian and legal
standards, including the Geneva Convention.
21 September 2006