Siobhan

Sri Lanka and EU discuss lifting ban on fisheries products

Sri Lanka and the EU have had discussions on lifting the ban on fisheries products exported to EU countries.The State Minister of Economic Affairs Niroshan Perera has discussions on the matter with the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica. The new Government has prepared and is implementing an action plan to remove the ban.The EU had in November last year expressed satisfaction with the efforts taken by Sri Lanka to address the concerns which led to the ban on Sri Lankan fisheries exports to EU countries. The EU ban on fisheries products from Sri Lanka took effect in January this year as the former Government failed to prevent Sri Lankan fishermen from violating the international fisheries laws. Neven Mimica was in Sri Lanka to hold a series of high-level meetings, including with the President of Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other senior members of the Government. EU officials also credited Sri Lankan authorities for the progress that had been made to comply with the regulations of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Afghanistan Security Council mission stresses need for security but remains optimistic

The 15-member body discussed the final report of last month’s Council mission to Afghanistan and Pakistan, led by Japanese Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, which held high-level talks with Government officials in Islamabad before travelling on to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other officials in the capital Kabul and elsewhere.“The mission found that the spread of insurgency, and terrorist activity by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups, linked with the illegal drug trade, coupled with corruption and failures of governance and the rule of law, collectively pose a grave threat to reconstruction and nation-building,” the report stated.“However, the mission is convinced that the Government of Afghanistan and the international community have established a sound strategy to overcome these challenges,” it added, referring to the Afghanistan Compact – a five-year all-inclusive development blueprint for cooperation with donors that was launched in February.Nevertheless, the report noted that progress this year toward realizing the vision of the Compact had not been as rapid as hoped, adding that the “security situation in general remained precarious throughout the country” and urging the Government and donor community to urgently reform this sector.“The mission affirms the importance of establishing a strong and sustainable Afghan National Army and urges donors and the Government of Afghanistan to redouble their collective efforts to establish a trusted and effective Afghan National Police throughout the country.”The report also recommended priority attention to establishing the rule of law and good governance throughout the country. “To this end, the mission encourages the Government to take immediate steps to strengthen justice sector institutions.”The report also pointed out that security issues depended on “regional cooperation,” noting that many officials who spoke to the Council mission highlighted “the existence of sanctuaries in Pakistan for the Taliban” and other insurgent groups. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan told the mission his country was doing its best to improve security in the border area, adding also that a stable Afghanistan was essential to this effort.The mission’s report further called on the Afghan authorities and donors to “sharpen their focus on human rights and protection of civilians,” noting that along with the insecurity, corruption and impunity for criminals, all these factors have “tempered the legitimate hopes of Afghans with signs of despondency and disillusionment.”The UN’s top envoy in Afghanistan, speaking at a press conference in Kabul to present the mission’s report, also acknowledged the challenges ahead, particularly in reforming the security sector, but he echoed the belief that the Afghan Compact is the correct strategy and called for both the Afghans and the world community to do more.“The Security Council stresses that the Afghanistan Compact is the way forward because the Afghanistan Compact is not only led by Afghans but provides a strategic framework for the international community’s and Afghanistan’s cooperation with each other,” said Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan.“We don’t have a strategy problem we have an implementation problem,” he added.At the end of last month, the 192-member General Assembly also fully backed the Compact, by adopting an 11-page resolution pledging to help implement the five-year development strategy that covers politics, security, economics, human rights, crime and judicial reform. read more