Uutinen 23.1.2009

Situation in the Middle East main theme of the EU Council

Government Communications Unit
Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Press Release 21/2009
23 January 2009

The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will meet in Brussels on Monday 26, January. The main theme of the meeting will be the Middle East peace process. Other themes will include energy security and relations between the EU and Russia and the EU and Ukraine. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Stubb, will represent Finland at the meeting.

The Ministers will discuss the situation in Gaza and the EU’s role in supporting the ceasefire. The Council is to adopt conclusions on this issue. The meeting will also discuss reinforcing the EU’s presence in the region in order to facilitate the opening of Gaza border crossing points and the delivery of humanitarian aid. If necessary, the EU Border Assistance Mission at the Rafah crossing point (EUBAM Rafah) can be reactivated. Finland is prepared to participate in EU border control activities and considers it important that humanitarian law be respected and national reconciliation among the Palestinians be achieved to secure the continuation of the peace process.

The agenda for the meeting also includes EU relations with Russia and Ukraine as a result of the recent gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia, which has had direct and negative consequences for the energy supply of a number of EU countries. Finland supports the advancement of negotiations on the Treaty between the EU and Russia and the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine. The negotiations should include wide-ranging and detailed discussions about energy issues.

Other themes of the meeting will include the closure of the Guantánamo prison facility and the situation in Zimbabwe. The Ministers will discuss to what extent the EU countries’ could accept prisoners released from Guantánamo and therefore convey a positive message to the new United States government. Finland has expressed a wish for a quick closure of the prison facility. As regards Zimbabwe, the Council is to adopt conclusions entailing a decision to continue sanctions against the country. As for combating terrorist financing, the Ministers will address the six-monthly review of the EU terrorist list which includes counter-terrorism financial sanctions.

The Council will look into the priorities of the Czech EU Presidency which started at the beginning of the year. Key issues for Finland include the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the development of energy and climate policy, issues relating to economic policy and the future of the Lisbon Strategy.

The Council will also continue the discussions on energy security which it started at the informal Council meeting at the beginning of January. The October European Council drew up guidelines for improving energy security, and it is currently preparing for the March European Council which is to reach decisions concerning energy security.


Further information: Sanna Ek, Adviser, EU Affairs, tel. +358 9 1602 2150 and Jonna Laurmaa, Counsellor, EU Affairs, tel. +358 9 1602 2191, Government Secretariat for EU Affairs and Markku Lampinen, Counsellor, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 5530 or +358 40 726 6124