Uutinen 12.9.2008

Foreign Ministers to finalise plans for an EU observer mission in Georgia

Government Communications Unit
Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Press Release 266/2008
12 September 2008

The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will meet in Brussels on Monday, 15 September. The main theme of the meeting will be the situation in Georgia. Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen will represent Finland at the GAERC meeting.

The Foreign Ministers’ objective is to take a decision to commit a European Security and Defence Policy observer mission in Georgia and to choose its Head of Mission. The aim is to deploy 200 observers to Georgia by 1 October. Good coordination especially with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation and the United Nations is essential. Finland has launched preparations for the operation and aims to send out at least 10 Finnish experts to Georgia.

In relation to the Western Balkans, the Foreign Ministers will discuss the situation in Serbia. In consequence of the arrest of the war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, the GAERG meeting may also discuss the enforcement of the provisional Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Serbia. The process of enforcing the agreement has been frozen due to lacking cooperation of Serbia with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. Finland supports the implementation of the provisional Stabilisation and Association Agreement. It might encourage Serbia to implement further measures in cooperation with the ICTY and support Serbia’s rapprochement to the EU in a concrete manner.

The Ministers will discuss the situation in Zimbabwe. Negotiations on the formation of a government of national unity have not led to a result and the question of power-sharing has not been resolved. Finland regrets that the negotiating parties have so far not reached an agreement which accommodates the will of the people of Zimbabwe as expressed in the election of 29 March. As the situation has worsened despite the negotiation efforts, Finland considers tighter EU sanctions justified.

The GAERG meeting will also discuss the state of the Doha round of the World Trade Organization trade talks. The European Commission will give its assessment of this autumn’s outlook of the trade talk round after the failed WTO ministerial meeting in Geneva in July. Finland hopes that the negotiations within the Doha round would continue as soon as possible. Finland aims at a well-balanced and ambitious result that covers all negotiating areas. The GAERG Council will be preceded by a meeting of EU Trade Ministers focusing on trade and climate change.

The current Presidency country, France, will present to the Council its proposal for the agenda of the European Council meeting which will take place on 15 and 16 October. The October European Council is to discuss the Lisbon Treaty, the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, the Union’s economic and financial situation and environment and energy issues. If necessary, the meeting will also provide a follow-up to the extraordinary meeting of the European Council held at the beginning of September.

Further information: Anne Huhtamäki, Counsellor, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 6097 or +358 40 546 0456 and Jonna Laurmaa, Counsellor, EU Affairs, Government Secretariat for EU Affairs, tel. +358 9 1602 2191