Uutinen 18.3.2011

Foreign Ministers to discuss the situation in Libya and in Japan

Press release 101/2011
18 March 2011

The Foreign Affairs Council of the EU will meet in Brussels on 21 March. The main topics of discussion are the situation in the EU’s southern neighbourhood, especially Libya and the European Union’s support to the region, and the situation in Japan. Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb will represent Finland at the meeting.

The foreign ministers will discuss recent developments in the southern neighbourhood area, especially in Libya. Late Thursday evening the UN Security Council adopted a Resolution, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, that calls for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the violence against civilians in Libya. The Resolution justifies a ban on all flights in Libya’s airspace and the use of force to protect civilians. The views of regional actors have been crucial in approving the Resolution. The European Union is prepared, for its part, to implement the Resolution within the scope of its mandate and competence. Development of Tunisia and Egypt is of great importance to the entire region. The countries are expected to implement reforms as well as human rights and basic freedoms. The EU, for its part, must proceed swiftly to concrete measures supporting Egypt and Tunisia.

The Foreign Affairs Council will discuss the situation in Japan. Aside from its immediate humanitarian effects, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami have far-reaching impacts, nor is the acute situation over yet. The EU should show solidarity to Japan in all ways. To ensure the smoothness of relief efforts, the work of the EU countries in Japan should be handled in a highly coordinated manner.

Also on the agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council meeting is the policy for the EU’s activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the reforms required by the EU have stalled. Finland supports a strong EU presence in the country. Furthermore, the Foreign Affairs Council will debate the situation in Belarus. The situation in Belarus has not improved in spite of international pressure, and trials have begun against those arrested in connection with demonstrations following the presidential election. In the view of Finland, it is important to keep up the pressure on the leaders of Belarus in order to free those detained in consequence of the elections.

The Foreign Affairs Council will also discuss the Sahel strategy of the EU. The departure point of the strategy is that security and development are inseparable from each other. The EU should support mutual cooperation among the countries of the region, and should promote sustainable development, including good governance and internal conflict solution, in a comprehensive manner. In addition, the Foreign Affairs Council will endorse Conclusions concerning the situation in Somalia. The Council agenda also includes the further weakening of the human rights situation in Iran.

Additional information: Päivi Pohjanheimo, Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 5332 or mobile tel. +358 40 511 3786, and Counsellor Lasse Keisalo, Unit for European Common Foreign and Security Policy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 5330 or mobile tel. +358 040 505 2046