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Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel attends G8 Foreign Ministers meeting

Photo: Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The G8 Foreign Ministers meeting opened in Kyoto today. The EU delegation is headed by the Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council Dimitrij Rupel. The two-day meeting dedicated to all the most important international crisis points is being attended by the Foreign Ministers of the USA, Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan, and the Deputy Foreign Ministers of Canada and the Russian Federation. The European Union always takes part in G8 meetings, too. For Slovenia, this is the first and only opportunity in many years to attend such an important meeting, since the G8 Group is made up of the countries that have the largest and most powerful economies in the world. Today's discussion focused on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Burma/Myanmar; tomorrow the Ministers will discuss Korea, Iran, the Middle East Peace Process, Sudan, Zimbabwe and the Caucasus.



On Afghanistan, Dr Rupel pointed out that it was worth considering whether the Afghan Government had truly understood the meaning of the Paris donor conference at which 20 billion dollars had been raised for Afghanistan. Because of poor government infrastructure, these resources do not provide all the necessary services to the population. Nor are tensions soothed in any way by President Karzai's statements on possible military actions on Pakistani territory, which, although directed primarily at a domestic audience, nevertheless have international repercussions that cannot be overlooked.

Taking all this into consideration, next year's elections will be extremely important. The international community must be assured that it is supporting a process and not individual persons, underlined the Slovenian Foreign Minister. Dr Rupel also expressed his full support for the work being carried out by the UN Secretary-General's special envoy Kai Eide.

The Foreign Ministers adopted a special statement on Afghanistan in which, among other things, they point out the problems caused by terrorism, poverty, corruption and weak institutions. They furthermore support the role of the United Nations, make a favourable assessment of the work being done by international security forces, support efforts for strengthening the government structures in the country and evaluate the outcome of the Paris conference as positive.  In the statement, the Ministers stress their commitment to the presidential and parliamentary elections being conducted in a democratic fashion, and call upon Afghanistan's neighbours to cooperate.



On Burma/Myanmar, Dr Rupel expressed solidarity with the victims of Cyclone Nargis. He noted that the state of emergency was still far from over, especially in view of the fact that international humanitarian assistance had still not reached around 100 thousand affected victims. Access to the flooded areas has improved, but conditions are certainly not ideal.

Despite the pressing humanitarian crisis, there has been no improvement in the political situation in the country. The acts of suppression being observed are extremely worrying. These include breaking up a peaceful demonstration on the occasion of Suu Kyi's birthday, during which several activists were arrested. This incident “deeply stirred the European public”. The Slovenian Foreign Minister considered that this all demonstrated that Burma's political leadership had not taken the opportunity afforded by the natural disaster that had hit the country to attract more international assistance. However, the lack of sympathy shown by the military junta and their poor handling of the crisis would, one might reasonably expect, rebound primarily on the authorities themselves, making change in Burma inevitable. Dr Rupel voiced support for the activities of the ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. On the possibility of lifting EU sanctions, Dr Rupel took the view that this would depend on developments in the country, noting that imposing stricter sanctions at present would adversely impact the humanitarian situation in the country.


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Date: 27.06.2008