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Slovenian Minister Rupel heads EU-Troika meeting with China

Today in Ljubljana, the current President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, headed the ministerial EU-Troika meeting with the People’s Republic of China. Apart from Dr Rupel, the EU delegation included the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, the European Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and the State Secretary in charge of Cooperation and Francophony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alain Joyandet, while the Chinese delegation was headed by the Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi. The core issue under discussion was relations between the European Union and China, with particular emphasis on the framing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, and an exchange of views on the situation in Tibet and human rights. The meeting also offered an opportunity for exchanging opinions on certain regional and international issues, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Burma/Myanmar, Iran, Africa and regional cooperation with Eastern Asia.

EU-Chinese relations

Dr Rupel, on behalf of the European Union, conveyed the deepest sympathies to the Chinese delegation following the recent catastrophic earthquake in the Province of Sichuan. The Slovenian Foreign Minister went on to express satisfaction at the development of bilateral relations between the EU and China, and the strategic and comprehensive nature of these relations. “We sincerely hope to see dialogue and cooperation with China in many areas, both on bilateral and global issues,” stressed Dr Rupel, adding that both sides, and indeed the international Community as a whole, would benefit from such close cooperation. He pointed out that the world is facing numerous challenges: “We will not find constructive solutions unless we have close mutual cooperation. These challenges demand a joint response from the EU and China,” maintained Dr Rupel. At the meeting, special attention was given to the negotiations on the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

The Slovenian Foreign Minister also noted that the European Union appreciated the active and responsible role played by China in matters of international relevance such as cooperation in the Six-Party Talks concerning North Korea Nuclear Issues or supporting Gambari’s mission in Myanmar.


The Slovenian Foreign Minister stated that Europe had been monitoring the events in Tibet in March closely and with some concern. “We issued a clear opinion stating that violent protests were not acceptable. We also stressed the need for substantive and constructive dialogue with regard to the concern expressed by the Tibet people, while taking into consideration the territorial integrity and sovereignty of China,” he commented. He welcomed China’s decision in favour of dialogue with Dalai Lama and his representatives on all issues related to Tibet except that of sovereignty. The informal contacts between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the Chinese authorities that took place on 3 May in Shenzhen are a first step in this direction. Dr Rupel expressed the EU’s hope that this initiative would soon produce tangible results. He moreover called upon the Chinese authorities to facilitate access to Tibet for journalists, diplomats, UN agencies, tourists and others. “Opening Tibet up to the outside world would increase transparency and thus alleviate international concern,” he added. The Slovenian Minister also commented that “establishing relationships across the Taiwan Strait is also a welcome move.”

Human rights

The Slovenian Foreign Minister reported the EU’s agreement with China’s wish, as expressed last month, on the occasion of the 25th round of EU-Chinese talks on human rights, that human rights should represent a positive component of relations and not a cause of tension. “We agree: we would like to discuss human rights in a spirit of mutual respect,” pointed out the Minister. Dr Rupel was pleased to note that, at the legal seminar, Chinese and European experts and academics had openly and constructively presented views on important issues in the field of children’s rights and the right to health. However, issues discussed in the context of the dialogue on human rights are more complex and more sensitive: this particularly applies to the freedom of expression and the rights of minorities in Tibet.

Dr Rupel reported that the EU had expressed concern regarding restrictions of the freedom of expression which had included the enforcement of regulations on foreign journalists, the position of Chinese journalists and control of the internet. “I understand that China is not satisfied with the Western media’s reporting of events in Tibet and the handover of the Olympic torch. However, I would like to point out how the Western media reported the terrible earthquakes which hit the Chinese province of Sichuan. They praised the Chinese authorities’ response and showed great compassion for the suffering Chinese population. Consequently, we do not believe that the media are biased against China. Quite the opposite. This shows how important it is to let the media do their work,” commented the Slovenian Foreign Minister.

While respecting Chinese internal affairs and the universal nature of human rights, the EU expressed concern about human rights in Tibet, free access to the region and called on China to continue the dialogue with the Dalai Lama. The Slovenian Minister also referred to a number of other issues, such as the proposal for the release of the remaining Tiananmen Square prisoners on humanitarian grounds. “At this important time, just before the start of the Olympic games, such a gesture would give a clear and positive signal,” affirmed Dr Rupel.


Dr Rupel noted that the EU had repeatedly expressed its firm support for the Six-Party Talks on the denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula and was grateful to China for its constructive role in the process. A measure of progress was achieved last year. The Slovenian Foreign Minister emphasised, “We call upon all the parties to continue the positive moves that would result in the issue of a proper final declaration on all North Korea’s nuclear programmes and deployment of the third phase of the process. Verifiable and complete dismantling of all North Korea’s nuclear programmes and denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula continues to be the ultimate objective.”

At international fora and in bilateral negotiations, the EU has also repeatedly highlighted concern about the status of human rights in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The EU is also concerned about food shortages in the country. The EU had asked the Korean government to be lenient with the North Korean citizens that were crossing the Chinese border in search of food; Dr Rupel invited China to reconsider its policy towards these refugees, who risk being sentenced to death if they are returned to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The EU and its Member States will consider the option of providing humanitarian aid to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the event of the humanitarian crisis due to the food shortage.


The Slovenian Foreign Minister then observed that recent news from Burma/Myanmar called attention to the political situation and continual oppression in the country, “The European public was shocked that the military junta, despite the large-scale humanitarian disaster, had not cancelled the national referendum immediately.” He added that this would reinforce fears that the procedure for the adoption of the draft constitution and its contents were completely irregular. Dr Rupel also underscored, “We are concerned about intimidation during the run-up to the referendum and pressure exerted on voters,” adding that the EU had publicly expressed its concerns about the extension of the detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The EU takes the view that national unity is needed in Burma/Myanmar and that extending her detention would not contribute to a better future or to the provision of additional foreign aid.


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Date: 13.06.2008