2996th Council meeting Foreign Affairs
- EU RESPONSE TO EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI
- OTHER BUSINESS
The Council discussed the state of play in Haiti and the EU’s continued coordinated response to the earthquake. Commissioners Piebalgs and Georgieva briefed the Council on the developments on the ground and on their plans for further assistance. The High Representative announced that she would visit Haiti in the near future.
The High Representative stressed in particular the need to shift to the provision of shelter, with the approach of the rainy season, followed by the hurricane season. A million Haitians are still homeless, of whom 100 000 are in urgent need of shelter. Looking ahead to the international donors conference to be held at the end of March in New York, the Council stressed the need for a comprehensive EU response in support of the reconstruction and development effort in Haiti — over which the Haitian government must have full ownership — and the High Representative spoke of the need for “something like a Marshall Plan”.
When the earthquake struck on 12 January the EU immediately mobilised search and rescue teams and earmarked some EUR 400 million for urgent humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and longer-term development. At the 25 January Council, the EU set up a coordination cell — EUCO Haiti — to coordinate the EU Member States’ provision of military and security assets for the relief and reconstruction effort in Haiti. Some 1 600 troops from a number of EU Member States, including Italy, Spain and France, are now on the ground in Haiti, helping with tasks such as clearing rubble, distributing drinking water, providing transport, and, in particular, providing shelter.
The 25 January Council also announced that the EU Member States would collectively contribute some 300 police personnel to reinforce the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Most of them have already arrived and are helping to keep public order in Haiti.
Ministers held a discussion on the political and human rights situation in Iran and on the Iranian nuclear issue, against the background of President Ahmadinejad’s recent announcement that Iran would further enrich uranium to the level of 20 per cent, which would be a significant step towards producing weapons-grade uranium.
The Union remains committed to the international community’s dual-track approach of considering further restrictive measures against Iran unless it responds favourably to the international community’s offer of engagement, whilst at the same time being ready to seek a negotiated solution with Iran.
In line with the December 2009 European Council declaration and given the lack of a satisfactory response by Iran to the international community’s offer of engagement and its failure to respect its international obligations, the Council is reflecting on the measures that could be taken to accompany the UN-led process of moving towards additional measures
Over lunch, the Council held a forward-looking decision on the outcome of the Ukrainian presidential election and the EU’s future relations with Ukraine. Ministers agreed that the EU should engage with President Yanukovych and the new administration in Kiev and underlined the need for political and economic reform in Ukraine.
– Under other business, the Council assessed, against the background of the unfolding events on the ground, the diplomatic efforts under way to settle the dispute between Libya and Switzerland, involving the refusal by Switzerland of Schengen visas for certain Libyan nationals and the refusal by Libya of visas for citizens of the Schengen area. The Spanish and German ministers briefed the Council on the mediation efforts of their countries and the Spanish minister expressed hope that an agreement could be announced in the near future.
– The Council had an exchange of views on the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on 20 January and agreed to issue the following statement condemning the fact that those involved in the operation had fraudulently used passports and credit cards acquired through the theft of EU citizens’ identities (6753/10):
“The killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on 20 January raises issues which are profoundly disturbing to the European Union.
This was an action which cannot be conducive to peace and stability in the Middle East. The EU strongly condemns the fact that those involved in this action have used fraudulent EU Member States’ passports and credit cards acquired through the theft of EU citizens’ identities.
The EU welcomes the investigation by the Dubai authorities and calls on all countries to cooperate with it. The countries concerned in the EU are themselves carrying out full investigations into the fraudulent use of their passports.
The EU is committed to ensuring that both EU citizens and countries around the world continue to have confidence in the integrity of EU Member States’ passports. It believes that its passports remain among the most secure in the world fully meeting all international standards. EU Member States’ passports include a range of physical security measures to prevent forgery and abuse.”
– Ministers also discussed the recent human rights violations in the Republic of Belarus, against members of civil society, including members of the Union of Poles and stressed the need for Belarus to abide by its OSCE and international commitments.
– On the subject of Niger and the coup d’etat on 19 February, the Council stressed that democracy and constitutional order must be restored swiftly. The High Representative said that she would continue to follow the situation, in close contact with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU).
Council Of The European Union