Press Releases, 4/25/2008
The Western Balkans and Zimbabwe on the Council’s agenda
Government Communications Unit
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Press release 123/2008
The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will meet on 28 and 29 April in Luxembourg. Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb and Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors will attend the Council meeting.
Serbia will hold parliamentary and local elections on 11 May. Serbia intends to conduct the elections also in Kosovo. The Kosovo government and the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) object to holding Serbian elections in Kosovo. The EU wants to pursue closer relations with Serbia. The EU wishes, in particular, to facilitate people to people contacts through visa flexibility agreements.
Bosnia-Herzegovina’s rapprochement to the EU has increased with the recent passage of two police reform bills by the country’s parliament. The passage of the bills is a key pre-condition of the EU for Bosnia-Herzegovina to sign the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
The Council will also discuss the situation in Zimbabwe after the elections held in the country. The results of the presidential elections held in March have not yet been released. Recount of ballots was started in some constituencies in April. The EU condemns the nondisclosure of the election results and calls for their immediate publication.
Finland is concerned about Zimbabwe’s worsened humanitarian situation and increased violence which impair possibilities of the voters to express their true opinion. Finland emphasizes the importance of the work carried out by the Southern African Development Community as a mediator, as well as the work of the African Union, in influencing Zimbabwe.
The Foreign Ministers will also discuss how to support the Middle East Peace Process in the aftermath of the Annapolis Peace Conference which took place in November 2007. Finland supports the work of the Quartet - the UN, the EU, the US and Russia - in the Peace Process. The situation in the West Bank and Gaza needs concrete improvement soon. The Israeli promise to reduce the number of roadblocks in the West Bank is a step in the right direction, but measures to improve the Palestinians’ freedom of movement must continue. The Israeli settlement issue stands currently as one of the main obstacles to peace. Finland considers the EU Police Mission in the Palestinian Territories (EUPOL-COPPS) an important EU contribution.
The Council will also discuss the Commission communication on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2007, reports on the situation in Burma/Myanmar and Iraq, and promotion of the EU-Pakistan relations.
Further information: Anne Huhtamäki, Counsellor, Division for European Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 6097