Address by Minister Roche to Joint Committee on European Affairs re GAERC Agenda, 21-22 July 2003: Part II
International Criminal Court
Regarding the International Criminal Court, Ireland was actively involved in the negotiation of the Rome Statute and since then has been seen widely as a strong supporter of the ICC. This was borne out by, among other things, the successful election early this year of Ireland's nominee for the election to the position of judge in the Court.
As a member of the European Union, Ireland has been active in the Union's efforts to ensure that as many States as possible sign and ratify the Rome Statute. Equally, we have been among the stronger advocates within the Union of making the EU guidelines known to countries that are contemplating bilateral non-surrender agreements, to ensure that they are aware of the elements such an agreement must contain, and must avoid, if it is to be compatible with the Rome Statute.
Accordingly, Ireland is supportive of the Netherlands' proposal and will be engaged at official level with partners in the Political and Security Committee in tightening up the language ahead of its proposed adoption at the Council.
In any discussion of this issue, Ireland will stress the importance of re-iterating the Union's support for the ICC but also of doing so in a non-confrontational manner, to avoid unnecessary transatlantic friction, while at the same time acknowledging the very real commitment shown by many States to the Court in difficult circumstances.
Under the heading of European Security and Defence Policy, the Council will discuss the future of the current EU military stabilisation/monitoring mission in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Launched in March of this year, Operation Concordia is generally perceived to have been successful so far. It has played a useful complementary role in the EU's overall approach towards the Balkans regions and particularly towards FYROM. The FYROM authorities have now requested a short extension of the mission under the same terms beyond its scheduled conclusion at the end of September. I anticipate that the Council's response to this request will be favourable.
The prospect of a possible EU police mission in follow-on to Concordia, again at the request of the FYROM authorities, is also likely to arise. The details of such a potential further role for the EU remain to be fleshed out and it is likely that the Council will direct that this work should be taken forward. I would expect that the Council will revisit this matter again at an early stage in the autumn period.
Finally, Ministers will also be invited to approve formal Council Conclusions on the theme of EU-UN cooperation in crisis management. This is an important and welcome initiative by the Italian Presidency. While the text remains to be finalised, I anticipate that we will be able to give it our full support.
Discussion of the agenda item on Africa is likely to focus on two issues: EU–Africa relations, and the situation in the Great Lakes Region including the EU-led temporary stabilisation force in the north-eastern province of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Operations Artemis.
High Representative Solana is scheduled to visit the Great Lakes Region on 15 to 16 July for meetings with the President of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, the Rwandan President Paul Kagamé and the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni. He will then report to the UN Security Council on Operation Artemis.
The EU-led temporary stabilisation mission in the north-eastern province of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - Operations Artemis - has been underway since mid-June and is scheduled to conclude on 1 September 2003.
The basis for this mission lies in Chapter VII of the UN Charter and in particular, UN Security Council Resolution 1484. This authorised the deployment of an Interim Emergency Multinational Force to contribute to the stabilisation of the security and humanitarian situation in Bunia. The EU's role followed a direct request from the UN Secretary-General to the Union to help respond to the ongoing crisis in the area, specifically in the city of Bunia. I welcome this further concrete evidence of the close cooperation between the EU and the UN in the area of crisis management.
Five members of the Defence Forces are currently participating in Operation Artemis. While it has so far been successful in helping to restore calm to Bunia, the overall security situation is reported to remain volatile. Close coordination between the EU force and the UN Mission in the DRC (‘MONUC') will be necessary on an ongoing basis.
The EU's role in the DRC will not end on 1 September. Initial consideration is being given to providing possible further assistance to a strengthened MONUC from mid-August onwards, including through support to local Congolese police forces. The Political and Security Committee is discussing longer term EU political support for the peace process in the DRC, including support for the Transitional Government. In the meantime, negotiations are continuing at the UN Security Council on strengthening the mandate and increasing the force strength of MONUC.
On EU-Africa relations, the Presidency will report on EU Troika meetings at the Summit of the African Union which took place last week in Mozambique. As to the future of the EU-Africa Dialogue, while both sides recognise that the participation of Zimbabwe remains an obstacle to the early holding of a summit, there is agreement to continue the process with further discussion on the eight agreed areas of priority for the dialogue.
Preparation for the WTO 5th Ministerial Conference in Cancun
Another item on the agenda of the Council is the draft Council Conclusions on the preparation of the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun on 10-14 September 2003. These conclusions highlight issues of particular importance for the EU in the lead-in to the conference. As such, it is standard for the EU and member states to outline the key issues of critical importance to them and the broad-based stance they will take in negotiations during the Cancun conference. The Council is expected to reaffirm the EU's fundamental commitment to the multilateral trading system; and to a successful conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda.
In the margins of the Council
Finally, members of the Committee may wish to note that, as Ireland is now part of the Troika, I will be attending the association council with Jordan and co-operation councils with Kazakhastan and Kyrgystan, due to be held in the margins of the Council on Tuesday morning, 22 July.