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Press Release – Dr. Marcoullis debriefed the EP’s Foreign Affairs Committee on November’s FAC
22.11.2012, 14:19 (CET)
Cyprus’ Foreign Affairs Minister,  Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis debriefed today, Thursday November 22, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs (AFET) Committee on the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) of November 19. Dr. Marcoullis attended the AFET Committee meeting on behalf of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton.

The Cypriot Foreign Affairs Minister stressed that the Council was especially marked by unfolding events, in particular the escalating violence between Israel and Gaza and in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and reported that the Ministers of Foreign Affairs discussed, among other issues, recent events in the Southern Neighbourhood, the situation after the elections in Ukraine and the way ahead in the bilateral relations between the EU and Cuba.

Gaza

On Gaza, Dr. Marcoullis reported to the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) that the Council discussed how best to contribute to a de-escalation of violence in the Middle East, particularly in Gaza.

“We are all united on the ultimate goal of a negotiated two-state solution and on the urgent need for the parties to de-escalate the current violence and to restart meaningful and substantive talks,” she stressed.  The Cypriot Foreign Affairs Minister added that the EU will intensify its contacts with its US counterparts and other key players in the region to explore all options for new initiatives in the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP).  She also welcomed the cease-fire brokered yesterday, stressing that “the events of these last days underline the urgent need for a long-term solution not only for Gaza but also for the whole peace process.”

Dr. Marcoullis stressed that the need for peace and security in the region was the principal underlying objective when ministers discussed on how best to respond to the draft UN General Assembly resolution on the Palestinian status in the United Nations. The EU Member States remain united on the ultimate goal of a negotiated two-state solution and on the urgent need for the parties to de-escalate violence and to restart meaningful and substantive talks. In this context, the FAC discussed having a united position on the vote of the UN General Assembly resolution. Even though discussions did not lead to a definitive conclusion, consultations among member states will continue.

EU’s Southern Neighbourhood

With regards developments in the Southern Neighbourhood, Dr. Marcoullis informed that the meeting between the EU and the League of Arab States and the convening of the Egypt Task Force in Cairo on November 13 and 14 were successful and important for the entire region. Particularly concerning Syria, Dr. Marcoullis said that the ministers adopted Council Conclusions welcoming the agreement in Doha of the main opposition groups and the formation of the National Coalition for Opposition forces and Syrian Revolution, considering it legitimate representative of the aspirations of the Syrian population.

The Cypriot Foreign Affairs Minister reported that the Council welcomed the formation of a new government in Libya adding that an EU fact-finding mission is about to be deployed on the ground and will be working towards a possible CSDP mission on border security.

Dr. Marcoullis  referred also to the Council Conclusions adopted on Yemen and Lebanon. She informed the AFET Committee that the Yemen Conclusions welcome the progress achieved in the first year of transition, stress the urgent need of progress in political, economic, humanitarian and security sectors  and reiterate the EU's readiness to help, while the Lebanon Conclusions stress the importance of Lebanon's unity and stability including avoiding spill-over from neighbouring Syria.

Ukraine

Dr. Marcoullis also referred to the extensive discussion on the outcome of the elections in Ukraine and the political outlook in the country, stressing that, although the Council agreed to go ahead with preparations for the possible signature of the Association Agreement /Free Trade Agreement, events will be monitored and Ukraine is expected to deliver progress on reforms before the final decision to sign.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Cypriot Minister also informed on the FAC discussion on the deteriorating situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where the humanitarian crisis has further worsened.

“The EU will continue working with all partners in the region to stop the violence and end the rebellion”, she emphasised adding that the Council expressed its strong support to the UN and the international community's efforts to address the crisis.

Cuba

On Cuba, the Cypriot Minister informed that the FAC discussed possibilities for taking forward relations with Cuba. It was agreed to start work on drafting negotiating directives with a view to a new bilateral agreement, stressing that this is a process which the EU can accelerate, slow down or suspend depending on events on the ground, the Minister said. She also clarified that the Common Position would remain the basis for EU relations with Cuba until a new agreement came into force.

Dr. Marcoullis mentioned also the joint lunch of Ministers of Foreign Affairs with Ministers of Defence, where Mali and the planned Common Security and Defence Policy mission to train the Malian Army and to improve the overall security situation was discussed. She added that during lunch there was an initial exchange of views on how to prepare for the debate on defence foreseen for the European Council at the end of 2013.

Lastly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, highlighted some other Council Conclusions adopted on the Joint Caribbean EU Partnership strategy, the Establishment of a Human rights dialogue with South Africa and the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation with Moldova.

Communications Officer
Charis Christodoulidou

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Email: cchristodoulidou@mfa.gov.cy
Telephone: +357 22401165

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