Monday, January 23, 2012

EU Ministers Meeting Expected To Add To Iran/Syria Sanctions And Discuss Somali Piracy

FAC Meeting Scheduled for Today
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE / WORLDWIDE - EU Foreign Ministers are to discuss adding further sanctions on Iran and Syria when they meet in Brussels today (23rd January). In a written statement to the UK’s Parliament announcing the agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, said that he expected the EU to expand and strengthen its sanctions against Iran, including an oil embargo and further restrictions on finance, petrochemicals and gold.

According to the statement:

‘If agreed, these measures will reflect the degree of EU concern about the continued development of the Iran’s nuclear programme. These robust measures aim to reduce Iran’s ability to fund its nuclear programme and to encourage it to resume serious and meaningful negotiations.’

In addition the UK has proposed to sanction an additional 21 Syrian military and security officials that they believe are responsible for violence against civilians and is in response to what the UK Foreign Ministry states is “…continuing repression” in the country.

Mr. Lidlington further added that though piracy off the Horn of Africa is not a formal agenda item, Ministers may be asked to reaffirm their commitment to launch the regional maritime capacity building (RMCB) mission to the Horn of Africa – as agreed by Ministers at the FAC on the 1st of December. The mission is designed to help strengthen the counter piracy efforts of local nations so as to counteract the rampant piracy that takes place in the region.

‘We are keen to see the RMCB make a tangible difference on the ground, and to ensure that the EU Operations Centre best co-ordinates military support to this predominantly civilian mission and ensures coherence with existing EU missions in the region,‘ Lidington said.

The latter subject will also be discussed more fully at a dedicated conference to be held in February in London with the hope of delivering a new international approach to Somalia, with discussions focusing on how the international community can step-up its efforts to tackle both the root causes and effects of the problems in the country.