Dáil Éireann - Volume 607 - 06 October, 2005
Written Answers. - European Council Meetings.
Ms Shortall Ms Shortall
13. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the outcome of the most recent European Council discussions which he has held with Ministers in recent times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26854/05]
Mr. Boyle Mr. Boyle
74. Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 3 October 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27052/05]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Mr. D. Ahern: I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 74 together.
The General Affairs and External Relations Council met in Luxembourg on 2 and 3 October. In advance of the Council, I appeared before the Joint Committee on European Affairs on Wednesday, 28 September to review the agenda. Following the Council, my Department forwarded the relevant Council conclusions prepared by the secretariat to the joint committee for information.
The focus of the general affairs agenda was EU enlargement, with Council approving a framework for negotiations with Turkey on its accession to the EU, as mandated by the European Council last December. A ministerial meeting to open the negotiations took place immediately following the Council meeting.
Ministers also approved the opening of accession negotiations with Croatia, on the basis of a positive assessment of Croatia’s co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY. These negotiations were also formally opened following the conclusion of the Council meeting.
I welcome the agreement to open accession talks with both of these countries. In making its historic decision, the EU has kept faith with the commitments made to Turkey at the December 2004 European Council, and those made to Croatia last March. The accession negotiations that now follow may be protracted and difficult. If progress is to be made, it will be essential that both Turkey and Croatia deliver fully on the com mitments which they in turn have made to the EU.
In a lunchtime discussion, the Presidency outlined its plans for the informal meeting of Heads of Government in London on 26-27 October next. The subjects for informal exchanges will include: achieving social justice and competitiveness in the face of globalisation and changing demographics; how Europe can strengthen its international role; and how it can provide security against cross-border threats.
Under the external relations agenda, the Council adopted conclusions in relation to Uzbekistan, Iran, the Middle East peace process, the western Balkans, Colombia, EU support for international peace and security, an international treaty on the arms trade, and preparations for the EU-Russia Summit.
The Council decided to impose a series of measures including an embargo on exports to Uzbekistan of arms, military equipment and other equipment that might be used for internal repression and restrictions on admission to the European Union aimed at those individuals directly responsible for the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force in Andijan on 11 May. I strongly support these steps, which have been taken against the background of the Uzbek authorities’ refusal to allow an independent international inquiry into the events which took place in Andijan on that day.
The Council welcomed the resolution adopted by the IAEA board of governors on 4 September and urged Iran to implement all the measures requested by the IAEA board, including reinstating a full suspension of all fuel cycle activities. I hope that Iran will heed the calls by the IAEA and use the breathing space offered to implement all of the necessary measures called for by the IAEA board. We must continue to do all we can on our part to maximise the chances of constructive re-engagement and of a diplomatic solution to this issue.
Ministers agreed to authorise the Commission to open negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro for an association and stabilisation agreement. This marks the first important step towards the establishment of contractual relations between the EU and Serbia and Montenegro.
Finally, I suggested to colleagues that it would make sense for the EU to review the action which it had taken in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami, in view of the anniversary which falls on 26 December. The suggestion was supported and the UK Presidency asked the Commission and Council secretariat to prepare a report for circulation to member states in December.
Dáil Éireann 607 Written Answers. European Council Meetings.