Uutinen 15.7.2011

The EU Foreign Affairs Council will discuss the Southern Neighbourhood and the Middle East peace process

Press release 183/2011
15 July, 2011

The EU Foreign Affairs Council will convene in Brussels on 18 July. The main topics of the meeting will be the situation of the European Union Southern Neighbourhood and the Middle East peace process. Finland’s representative in the Council meeting will be Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja.

The Council will have a debate about the EU Southern Neighbourhood. Finland considers the implementation of the policies confirmed in the European Council in June important. The EU must consistently support democratisation, civil society and implementation of human rights in the region. In Libya, it is important to make progress in the political process that will ensure implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions, end the use of violence, and lead to transfer towards a democratic society. The common message by the international community to Syria is also important. Finland will support the efforts for the achievement of a UN Security Council resolution on Syria. Finland is of the opinion that the EU must also be prepared to take stricter measures.

The foreign ministers will discuss the Middle East peace process taking due note of especially the extended interruption of the peace talks and the possibility advocated by the Palestinians to seek recognition for a Palestinian state in the UN in September. Finland’s view is that the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, UN and EU) must continue its concerted efforts for as swift resumption of peace talks as possible. It is a matter of urgency to have credible and productive negotiations launched. The EU must continue its active exertion of influence in order to stop expansion of the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Council will discuss the development of the Common EU Foreign and Security Policy, on which High Representative Catherine Ashton has prepared a progress report on the basis of a French, German and Polish initiative. Finland welcomes the initiative and supports the conclusions of the report. Finland advocates enhancement of a comprehensive approach.

In the meeting, the links between climate change and international security will also be addressed. Finland supports strengthening of the common EU climate policy, better observation of the security impacts of climate change in various domains of the Union, and enhanced role for the European External Action Service in climate diplomacy.

Furthermore, the foreign ministers will discuss the situations of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Finland is of the opinion that the EU must urge Pakistan to intensify its efforts against extremist movements and for securing further development of the country, and provide support for these efforts. As regards Afghanistan, Finland considers it important that the EU focus especially on supporting national governance and the rule of law, and reduction of corruption. The EU and the international community must commit themselves to providing long-term support when the transfer of the responsibility for security in the country is launched.

Additional information: Mikko Hautala, Diplomatic Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 5005 or +358 40 834 6758, and Counsellor Lasse Keisalo, Unit for European Common Foreign and Security Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 5330 or +358 40 505 2046