Uutinen 12.6.2009

EU Council to discuss the forthcoming European Council, the Middle East and the Western Balkans

Government Communications Unit
Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Press Release 192/2009
12 June 2009

The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will meet in Luxembourg on 15 and 16 June. The meeting will focus on preparations for the June European Council and the situation in the Middle East and the Western Balkans. Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb and Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors will represent Finland at the Council meeting.

The Foreign Ministers will prepare the European Council to be held in Brussels on 18 and 19 June when the EU leaders will focus on institutional issues, the economic and financial situation, and in particular on developing the financial supervision, and on preparations for the Copenhagen Conference on climate change. The European Council is to decide on guarantees for Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty and the new President of the European Commission.

The GAERC meeting is to adopt conclusions on the dialogue on visa facilitation for the Western Balkans, regional cooperation and Bosnia and Herzegovina. As regards the situation in the Western Balkans, the discussion will focus on cooperation between the area and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Finland is of the opinion that Serbia’s cooperation with ICTY has been sufficient enough to begin the provisional application of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. In Finland’s view, the Council should convey to the countries in the area a positive message on their achievements bringing them closer to visa facilitation.

The Ministers will discuss the Middle East Peace Process, the Lebanon elections and Syria’s development. Finland considers that efforts must be made to communicate to the new Israeli government that it should fully commit itself to the two-state solution and the agreements of the previous governments. The Council will also discuss the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and extension of colonies continued by Israel despite the US and EU protests. After the recent election in Lebanon, the EU expresses its support for Lebanese democratic institutions.

The Council will discuss the situation in Burma/Myanmar. Finland pointed out its concern over the situation at the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in May and encourages rapid reaction to the result of the soon to be concluded trial of the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The situation on Cuba will also be on the Council’s agenda. Its conclusions will cover the continuation of the political dialogue and development cooperation started with Cuba a year ago. Finland stresses the importance of improving the humanitarian situation in Cuba and encouraging its peaceful transition to pluralist democracy.

The Council is to start preparations for comprehensive action plans regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan. Finland supports the strengthening of EU action towards stabilisation, reconstruction, development and rule of law in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Ministers are also to decide on the formulation of a co-ordinated EU position for the United States concerning the closure of the Guantánamo prison facility. Furthermore, the Council is to adopt conclusions on Irak, Moldova, the continuation of the EU’s anti-piracy operation Atalanta, civilian capabilities and totalitarian regimes.


Further information: Sanna Ek, Counsellor, EU Affairs, Government Secretariat for EU Affairs, tel. +358 9 1602 2150, Markku Lampinen, Counsellor, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 5330 or +358 40 7266 124