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Date : 09-11-2011

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Press release: Barcelona attack: PM statement

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

I am sickened by the senseless loss of life in Barcelona today. The Foreign Office is working to establish if any British nationals were involved in this appalling incident and we are in close contact with the authorities in Spain, who have our full support.

Following the attacks in Manchester and London, Spain stood alongside the British people. Tonight, Britain stands with Spain against the evil of terrorism.

Speech: "The UK has consistently welcomed the creation of a G5 Sahel joint force"

Mr President, I want to begin by offering my condolences to all of those affected by the attacks in Burkina Faso and Mali in recent days. The UK condemns in the strongest possible terms the violent actions of those intent on undermining stability in the region. They will not succeed. I would also like to thank Assistant Secretary-General Wane for his briefing today.

The UK has consistently welcomed the creation of a G5 Sahel joint force and its objectives to tackle terrorism, organised crime, people smuggling and human trafficking. And we are encouraged by the early progress that has been made since the adoption of resolution 2359 and look forward to the joint force mobilising and implementing its operations.

We echo the importance spelt out in resolution 2359 of the protection of civilians, respect for human rights and integration of a gender perspective. In his briefing, ASG Wane described the resource challenges faced by the G5 joint force. It is important that its needs are clearly set out so that the international community can explore supporting its operations and finances, including through the donor conference that we heard about today. The UK is offering training support, including through the European Union and we continue to explore what more we can do.

We welcome the recent announcement by France and Germany of the new Sahel Alliance and fully support this initiative. We urge all Council members to examine how they can further provide assistance as we ourselves are doing.

Mr President, we were reminded again in recent days of the security challenges facing the region. The international community is committed to confronting these problems and the UK believes that the joint force is an important regional component of these efforts.

In addition to military efforts, however, we need to tackle the political challenges. We welcome the progress that has been made, but we urge all Malian parties to speed up the implementation of the peace agreement and to continue their dialogue. Important steps have been taken in recent months, and we hope and believe these will continue.

Mr President, may I conclude on a personal note by thanking you and colleagues around the table for your welcome to me here today and to say how much I’m looking forward to working with you all.

Thank you.

Speech: "We owe it to Zaida, Michael and the rest of the group of experts to continue to use their reporting in our decisions."

Thank you Mr President. Today we discuss the group of experts work on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tragically this report comes after the murder of two UN human rights experts, Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan.

I’m glad that we’re meeting in the open today; this isn’t an issue to discuss behind closed doors. We owe it to the families of Michael and Zaida, and their interpreter Betu Tshintela to speak loudly and clearly in this Chamber; to express our deepest condolences and to reiterate our strongest resolve to see their killers brought to justice.

This is a message that needs to go far beyond this room, indeed far beyond the borders of the DRC.

Because, we in this Council asked for the information that Michael and Zaida went to gather. We asked them to be our eyes and ears. Wherever in the world men and women of the UN are murdered, wherever in the world they are harmed or abducted, we cannot stay silent, we cannot stand aside. We must ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes face the fullest consequences for their actions. We need to ensure accountability.

We took a first step through resolution 2360, with new designations criteria for those who kill UN personnel. The Secretary-General took a second step, commissioning a Board of Inquiry which uncovered more detail. But more needs to be done.

So I welcome the Secretary-General’s call in his letter to the Council for a follow-on mechanism and we urge him to take action swiftly towards a further investigation so that we can uncover the truth for Zaida and Michael, and for the safety of all UN personnel around the globe.

Because five months on from the murder of Zaida, Michael and Betu, accountability has yet to materialise. Those who ordered their killings remain at large.

Zaida and Michael were two of the most pre-eminent experts on the Kasai regions. Tragically, it appears that their very expertise made them a target. The violence that they sought to illuminate was brutally turned against them. Make no mistake, Mr President, they were killed for shining a light on the horrific human rights situation in the Kasais. And we must not let that light go out.

First and foremost, this means recognising the link between the political and security situations. Uncertainty and inertia over the implementation of 31 December agreement is only fuelling instability and violence. So with the Honourable Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo here today, let us all agree that the December agreement must be fully implemented.

If implementation continues to falter, we worry what will happen next. We need only look to the first half of this year and the 430 officially recorded human rights violations linked to the electoral process. That is more than in the whole of 2015.

And as the report of the Group of Experts shows, such violence is breeding further violence. I’m appalled at the reports of child rape in Kavuma. I’m glad that some of the militia responsible have been caught and put on trial. This is welcome, but without political stability, the tide could turn and these positive trends could be reversed.

There are clear warning signs already, Mr President; warning signs like growing reports of widespread sexual violence, including by FARDC in the Kasais. Or growing reports of widespread recruitment of children by Kamuina Nsapu or of continuing violence in the East. And we should all be concerned that armed groups continue to fund their hateful crimes by stealing natural resources.

These crimes need to stop and those responsible must be held to account.

We need to recognise that we have tools at our disposal to help this happen… tools like sanctions already imposed by this Council. These must be fully implemented if they are to be effective. We also have a responsibility to keep sanctions under close review. Those who engage in or support acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of the Democratic Republic of the Congo can and if needed, will be sanctioned by this Council.

The Human Rights Council international investigative mechanism will also play a crucial role in the Kasais so let us all urge the DRC to cooperate fully with its work.

Mr President, I would like to thank the committee, which you chair, for their work and for this report and I would also like to thank you personally for the sensitive and effective way in which you have steered our work.

Finally, Mr President, we owe it to Zaida, Michael and the rest of the group of experts to continue to use their reporting in our decisions. As we have heard so clearly today, it is reporting for which the highest price has been paid. And it must not be a price paid in vain.

Thank you.

Speech: Minister for Europe remarks to media in Ankara, Turkey

Minister for Europe press conference Turkey

Well Minister Omer, if I may, My good friend Omer Celik.

Thank you very much indeed for your warm welcome and I’m delighted to be back here, as you say, for the fifth time since the coup attempt. I hope that illustrates not only my personal commitment to Turkey but also that of the entire United Kingdom government.

The world is a difficult and dangerous place and I think that the friendship between the United Kingdom and Turkey is an essential relationship in that difficult world. And we work together as friends and we speak to each other as friends, sometimes directly on issues that matter, some difficult issues. But always on the basis of trust.

I went just now to the Parliament building, which I went to straight from the airport when I visited just a couple of days after the coup attempt last year. And on that occasion a year ago I saw the bombed out bits of the Parliament building and I went back just now to the very same place in order once again to reaffirm the United Kingdom’s understanding of what you went through during the coup attempt and indeed the steps that need to be taken following the coup attempt to restore civility, order and secure a government in the country.

We of course are clear in our view that we want to see proportionate and sensible responses to the challenges you faced within the context of a properly working judicial and democratic system. And that is what we have said from the start and will of course continue to say.

Speech: British High Commissioner welcomes Kenya's National Super Alliance’s decision to take election challenge to the Supreme Court

Reporter: What is your view on Raila Odinga’s decision to go to the supreme court?

British High Commissioner: We in the international community have never had a candidate or a preference in this election, we have strongly supported the constitution and the electoral process, and our work has been to strengthen that. Since the election finished, since the result was announced, we have been very clear that there is a process under the constitution for challenging that result, through the Supreme Court, and anybody who is unhappy should follow that process. So I very warmly welcome the decision by Raila Odinga to follow the Supreme Court process, this gives him and anyone else the chance to present all the evidence that they have, to argue their case, and to let justice decide on the verdict.

Reporter: Do you think the National Super Alliance (NASA) have enough evidence to sustain a case in court, based on what you’ve observed?

British High Commissioner: I can’t determine that… I am here to represent a country that cares about Kenya’s institutions and its constitution. The parties will clearly want to produce the evidence that they have, there will be a process for that, there will be a process for working it through on all sides, and I think that is exactly right; this is how these things are decided under the rule of law and under the constitution.

Reporter: Given most election observation missions have the case the thumbs up, do you think the opposition have a solid case and evidence to present for the court to give a fair and just judgment?

British High Commissioner: I am not a lawyer and I haven’t seen the evidence that they have and so I am not going to judge on whether their case is solid or not, that is for the court to decide. [The evidence] is for them to pull together, but as I say we support this process and we very much welcome the opposition’s decision to follow the process laid down in the constitution. Meanwhile we call on Kenyans to remain calm, to allow the process to take its course. People have a right to march in the streets, to express their views, but those demonstrations that do occur need to remain peaceful and everybody needs to wait for the case to play out.

Reporter: Initially NASA had said that court was not an option for them, but they have now changed their minds, in your opinion, do you think this will help unite the country in these days of much tension?

British High Commissioner: I think it is a very positive move, as I say your constitution sets out very clearly how this process works, how people can challenge the results, and a number of candidates from both sides have taken that option, in their own races across the country. I very much welcome the opposition’s decision to take [this course of action]. We’ve always been very clear that there is a way of challenging this, as set out in your constitution, and that is the [route] we as friends of Kenya would like to see all parties [take]. We welcome their decision.

Speech: "We all recognise the important work that UNMIK has done over many years for the benefit of Kosovo. But it’s time for the Mission to shrink, not grow"

Thank you Mr President and thank you Special Representative Tanin for your briefing. I also want to welcome Ambassador Citaku and Foreign Minister Dacic back to the Council.

Mr President, today, like others, I’ll be adhering to the guidance in the Council note 507, which encourages Council members and non-Council members to deliver their statements in five minutes or less.

Mr President, it has been three months since the Council last met to discuss the situation in Kosovo. As the Secretary-General’s report makes clear, it has been a comparatively quiet period in Kosovo.

In June, we saw the successful holding of free and fair elections in Kosovo. While the European Union’s Election Observers noted some voter intimidation and violence in Kosovan Serb parts of the country, we’re pleased that the vast majority of Kosovans were able to carry out their democratic duty peacefully.

We now look to all parties in Kosovo to take the next vital steps and form a government swiftly. The people have spoken; they now expect a government to get on with the business of governing, getting institutions up and running, and getting the country back on the path to European integration.

Crucially, Mr President, this means getting back to implementing the EU-facilitated dialogue. Progress in the dialogue is absolutely vital for both Kosovo and Serbia. It is the only path to normalisation of relations between these two independent countries. The lines on the map are set; they are fixed. They will not be changed. We shouldn’t be distracted by the quarterly angry and overly lengthy exchanges between Serbia and Kosovo in this Chamber. All that matters are the constructive exchanges in Brussels, like those between Presidents Vucic and Thaci only last month.

Progress on dialogue commitments will also be vital if Kosovo is to continue to improve its standing with international organisations. We will support Kosovo in its efforts to do so. While we welcome UNMIK’s facilitating role between the Kosovo authorities and Interpol, we look forward to Kosovo’s own independent membership of Interpol, so that Pristina can respond directly to requests from partners and so that we can together tackle the challenges posed by international crime.

Mr President, the other notable development since we last met was the agreement of the UN’s peacekeeping budget. It seems extraordinary that at a time when $600 million were found in savings from the peacekeeping budget that UNMIK’s budget should find itself increasing, not decreasing.

What message does that send to the world about the priorities of this Council? What message does it send that Kosovo got additional money for solar panels at a time when this Council was able to find savings in our missions to Darfur, to South Sudan and to so many other places?

This increase in funding is particularly hard to fathom given how peaceful and stable Kosovo has become. As the Secretary-General’s report makes clear, there have been comparatively few challenges to security in Kosovo in the past few months. This is something the recent report of KFOR also makes clear, noting that the trend in Kosovo is incrementally positive.

Mr President, we all recognise the important work that UNMIK has done over many years for the benefit of Kosovo. But it’s time for the Mission to shrink, not grow. As such, we’re disappointed that the budget of UNMIK has increased this year, particularly after numerous calls in the past three sessions for a downscaling of the Mission.

Let me close by echoing the comments made by the representative of Japan and by reiterating the UK’s long standing position that it is past time for this Council to meet less frequently on this issue. The number of issues on our agenda only continues to grow; we must focus our time as a Council and attention on genuine threats to international peace and security. All of us in this room should be thankful that the situation in Kosovo no longer falls into this category.

Thank you.

Press release: Minister for Europe makes fifth official visit to Turkey

A year on from the coup attempt, Minister for Europe, Sir Alan Duncan will travel to Ankara and Istanbul to show his support for Turkish democracy and continued UK-Turkish co-operation. Sir Alan will meet the Turkish government, main opposition party (CHP), journalists and NGOs, to hear firsthand about the current situation in Turkey.

While Minister Duncan is in Turkey, he will meet members of a human rights organisation that the UK has funded to help Syrian children gain better access to education.

The Minister will also focus on the UK’s co-operation with Turkey on science and technology. The UK is proud to support the Newton Fund, which is now the largest bilateral scientific co-operation programme in Turkey. Its budget of around £4 million supports over 170 different projects, in various areas including energy, economics, aerospace and disaster management, making the most of UK expertise in these areas. While in Istanbul, the Minister will visit the Istanbul Technical University, a key partner for this work.

Ahead of his trip Sir Alan Duncan said:

I’m delighted to travel to Turkey on my fifth official visit. Turkey is an indispensable partner for the UK. Our co-operation across security, trade and science is hugely beneficial to both our countries.

I once again condemn the terrible affront on Turkish democracy during the coup attempt last year. Turkey now needs to show its citizens and the world that things are returning to normality. It’s crucial that Turkey protects the space for civil society and a free press to operate. As a close friend, the UK stands ready to support Turkey in its endeavours to protect democracy.

On the final day of his visit, Sir Alan Duncan spoke to the media to reiterate the UK’s support for Turkish democracy.

Further information

News story: Foreign Secretary statement on Indian Independence Day 2017

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

On behalf of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I extend my warmest wishes to the people of India and the British Indian community in the United Kingdom on the occasion of India’s Independence Day.

The United Kingdom and India share a deep and longstanding partnership, rooted in the 1.5 million British Indian diaspora in the UK who contribute so richly to our society. Our 2 countries are committed to working together to promote our people’s prosperity, improve global security and tackle the global challenges that we face today.

Through the 2017 UK-India Year of Culture, we have celebrated the strength of UK-India ties, from our shared history, values, culture and language. Whilst today is an opportunity to reflect on India’s success over the past 70 years, it is also a chance to look ahead at a bright future for both our countries, supported by the flourishing ties between the people of India and the UK.

My best wishes to you all on this day.

Further information

News story: Foreign Secretary statement on Sierra Leone

The Foreign Secretary said:

I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life caused by the heavy flooding and landslides around the Freetown peninsula in Sierra Leone in the early hours of today.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected at this horrific time. We are working with the Government of Sierra Leone to provide support where necessary.

Further information

Media enquiries

For journalists

News story: Minister Stewart statement on Burkina Faso

Minister Stewart said:

I am deeply saddened by the horrifying terrorist attack in Ouagadougou last night. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who were killed and injured and with their families and with the people of Burkina Faso.

We stand in solidarity with Burkina Faso at this time of tragedy and against the senseless cruelty of terrorism around the world.

Further information

Media enquiries

For journalists

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