The visa crisis between Libya and the Schengen countries, the earthquake in Haiti, the Iranian nuclear dossier, the elections in Ukraine and the situation in Yemen and in Afghanistan. These are the main agenda items for the General Affairs Council (GAC) and Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) taking place on Monday 22 February in Brussels. Minister Frattini will be representing Italy.
Libya: the visa crisis between Libya and the Schengen countries that has arisen from a long dispute between Libya and Switzerland will be discussed. Some progress was made during the talks between the Swiss and Libyan Foreign Ministers in Madrid yesterday (19 February 2010), at the initiative of the Spanish EU Presidency. Minister Frattini had acted as mediator on Wednesday, meeting his Libyan colleague, Kousa, and reporting to him on the outcome of his talk with their Swiss counterpart, Calmy Rey.
Haiti: The Council will provide an opportunity to formulate EU rapid response mechanisms to help Haiti cope with the aftermath of the earthquake. Italy is heavily engaged on the ground: the Government has already allocated about 7.5 million euros, set up a permanent help centre in Port-au-Prince and sent the Cavour aircraft carrier to the island. In addition, our country has almost completed the process of cancelling Haiti’s debt.
Iran: The EU Ministers will consider possible actions to increase the pressure to convince Teheran to change its position on the nuclear question. Minister Frattini already feels that if Iran neither collaborates nor negotiates, then international sanctions will be absolutely necessary.
Ukraine: The outlook for EU-Ukraine relations and the result of the presidential elections on 7 February, which saw the victory of opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich, will be discussed. Commission President José Manuel Durao Barroso has already sent a congratulatory message to Yanukovich and invited him to visit Brussels “at his earliest convenience”.
Yemen and Afghanistan: The Council will review the international support strategy for these two countries in light of the results of the London Conference on 28 January 2010. At Italy’s proposal, the “Friends of Yemen” international group was established in London with the aim of helping the country combat terrorism and address security and development challenges, without imposing solutions from outside. As regards Afghanistan, the international community has approved the re-integration and reconciliation strategy for Taliban willing to lay down their arms and accept the Constitution. A trust fund has been set up for this process.