Dáil Éireann - Volume 475 - 18 February, 1997

Written Answers. - Algiers Murders.

90. Mr. R. Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the Government's response to the murder of 22 people in Algiers and surrounding towns over the weekend of 7 February to 10 February 1997; the steps, if any, being taken by the Government as a member of the EU Troika to resolve the crisis. [4418/97]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): I would refer Deputy Burke to my reply to Question No. 22 from Deputy Briscoe on 6 February 1997 in which I expressed the grave concern of the Irish Government and our partners in the European Union at developments in Algeria. Ireland condemns all acts of violence against the civilian population there. More than 50,000 people have been killed since 1992. I am particularly appalled at the recent spate of killings, some of them of the greatest cruelty.

The European Union has repeatedly called for a cessation of all acts of violence in order to allow for peaceful dialogue and the development of the democratic process. In that context, the Government is encouraged by reports that the Algerian authorities have recently held meetings with a number of political leaders to discuss preparations for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Together with its partners in the EU, Ireland has supported initiatives aimed at encouraging dialogue between those who reject terrorism and violence, while acknowledging that it is for the Algerian people themselves to resolve the current conflict on the basis of reconciliation and democratic principles. We are ready to support any further initiative based on these principles.

It is also important that Algeria does not become isolated, thus adding further problems, for example, of an economic nature, to the tragic situation there. The European Union has recently opened negotiations with Algeria on a Euro-Mediterranean association agreement, as part of the EU's strategy of creating a shared zone of peace and economic prosperity in the Mediterranean, based on democratic principles and the rule of law. This can help to stabilise the situation in Algeria.