Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (47)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

32 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the matters discussed and conclusions reached at his meeting in Brussels on 28 January 2004 with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4190/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I met United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on 28 January in Brussels. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the Secretary General of Ireland's European Union Presidency priorities, particularly in respect of EU support for effective multilateralism and the United Nations.

I assured the Secretary General that the European Union was firmly committed to a rules based international order with the United Nations at its heart and shared his concern at strains faced by the system of collective security. I briefed the Secretary General on the Irish Presidency programme, particularly on what the EU will do to help strengthen the multilateral system and the resources it will bring to the task of making the UN more effective in meeting challenges to peace and security, including through support for the work of the high level panel on threats, challenges and change which the Secretary General has established.

I reviewed the important developments in the past year in the EU's contribution to collective security, including the adoption of the European security strategy, the signature of the EU-UN declaration on co-operation in crisis management in September and the deployment of the EU mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Operation Artemis, from June to September. I informed the Secretary General that Ireland's Presidency will focus on implementation of the European security strategy and that we will work closely with the UN in making operational the joint declaration. I also told him of our aim to reach agreement on how an EU rapid response capability might support the work of the United Nations.

The meeting also provided a welcome opportunity to reiterate the determination with which Ireland wishes to advance the international development agenda, principally the implementation of the millennium development goals. I also emphasised the priority Ireland attached to the resolution of conflict in Africa, the struggle against HIV-AIDS and the resumption of international trade talks. In respect of HIV-AIDS, I outlined plans for the international ministerial conference on HIV-AIDS in Europe and central Asia to be held in Dublin on 23-24 February, at which the Secretary General will make a video statement.

The Secretary General commended the European Union's developing relationship with the United Nations, including co-operation in crisis management. He emphasised in this regard the importance of rapid deployment and praised Operation Artemis as a positive example of crucial EU support. He looked forward to further close co-operation between the EU and the UN. The Secretary General commended the European Union's developing relationship with the United Nations, including co-operation in crisis management. He emphasised in this regard the importance of rapid deployment and praised Operation Artemis as a positive example of crucial EU support. He looked forward to further close co-operation between the EU and the UN. He conveyed his deep appreciation of Ireland's determination to use its Presidency to support effective multilateralism and his confidence in Ireland's trusted capacity to deliver on this central objective.

The Secretary General and I were in full agreement on the need to enhance Africa's own capacity for peacekeeping. I briefed him on the African peace facility, under which the EU contributes towards the cost of African led peace initiatives as well as enhancing African peacekeeping capacity. The Secretary General, however, stressed the importance of the continued commitment of European states to participation in peacekeeping in Africa and, in this regard, expressed his appreciation of the participation of the Irish Defence Force in the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia.

I took the opportunity to brief the Secretary General on my recent visit to the Middle East. At my request, he provided an analysis of a number of pressing international issues, including the Middle East, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Cyprus, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and Sudan.

I also informed the Secretary General that Ireland, in response to his request for support for the peace process in Burundi, would make a contribution of €500,000 to the African mission in Burundi, AMIB, and expressed appreciation for his kind statement following the death of the late Papal Nuncio to Burundi, Archbishop Michael Courtney.