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General Affairs and External Relations Council, 28 and 29 April 2008, Luxembourg

The April meeting of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) chaired by Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Dimitrij Rupel, will – out of respect for the Orthodox Easter holiday – be held on Tuesday 29 April 2008, while the EU’s meetings with non-EU countries will take place on Monday.

The EU Foreign Ministers will begin their Tuesday session with a discussion on the situation in Zimbabwe, where the delay in announcing the result of the presidential elections held at the end of March is a cause of concern, as are the reports of intimidation, human rights abuses and violence, which are considered to be politically motivated attacks against supporters of democratic change. The Council has been closely monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe and will continue to seek ways of increasing pressure on those who direct and engage in state-sponsored violence and intimidation.

The Ministers are also expected to review the situation in the Middle East. Special attention will be devoted to Iraq following visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to Brussels in April and the Expanded Meeting of the Neighbouring Countries of Iraq that took place in Kuwait on 22 April, and in light of the upcoming Iraq Compact Annual Review Conference on 29 May in Stockholm.

Also on the Ministers’ agenda will be a review of recent developments in Pakistan. Ministers are expected to welcome the improvements to the democratic process Pakistan has made recently. They will also review the possibilities for improved and intensified EU relations with Pakistan, with particular emphasis on economic development and trade, non-proliferation, countering terrorism, strengthening of democratic institutions, human rights, migration, education, intercultural issues and regional cooperation.

The Ministers will also discuss recent developments in Burma/Myanmar, especially in the view of the upcoming referendum on a new constitution. They are expected to express continued concern and to again urge the authorities to take rapid steps for transition to a legitimate, civilian government and towards national reconciliation. The Council will also deliberate on the renewal of restrictive measures targeted against those responsible for human rights abuses and the lack of development in Burma/Myanmar.

Recent incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia have been cause for concern in the EU and have therefore also been placed on the Council’s agenda. The Ministers will assess how the EU could contribute to an international, UN-led response to this problem.

The EU-Russia relations will also be on the agenda. The Ministers will aim to adopt negotiating directives for a new agreement to provide a comprehensive framework for EU-Russia relations.

The situation in the Western Balkans will occupy the Ministers during their working lunch. The main issues they will focus on will be the situation in Serbia in the run-up to the general elections there on 11 May. The Ministers are also expected to adopt conclusions on the Commission communication on the Western Balkans and on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Also at lunch, the Commission will present a communication on recent progress regarding European Neighbourhood Policy action plans. The Ministers will also hold an exchange of views on recent developments related to Georgia.


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Date: 26.04.2008