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A Marshall Plan for Haiti, offers Catherine Ashton

Published on , , Sofia

Haiti needs a long-term development strategy and this is what the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs baroness Catherine Ashton will focus on. She announced her intentions in the end of the session of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels. The idea of a Marshal plan Lady Ashton will present during the special conference on Haiti in New York next week. Lady Ashton again praised the quick and coordinated efforts of the Union on organising humanitarian aid for Haiti. The new Humanitarian aid Commissioner Christalina Gheorghieva also attended the session.

Another issue, discussed by the 27 foreign ministers of the Union was Iran. Catherine Ashton demonstrated extreme curtness at the press conference after the session by saying only that there is a continued loss of confidence with Iran and its intentions. However, she underlined that the best place to discuss Iran was the UN's Security Council.

Surprisingly all EU foreign ministers supported unanimously Ukraine and the recent presidential elections there, won by Victor Yanukovich. The EU High Representative said she would personally attend the inauguration ceremony in Kiev. In the meantime she called on Ukraine to conclude a standby agreement with the IMF as soon as possible and to start a constitution reform. Ashton assured that the EU wanted to strengthen and deepen its relations with Kiev.

Catherine Ashton spoke briefly on one more issue, discussed by EU's foreign ministers - the appointment of EU commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's former chief of staff Joao Vale de Almeida in Washington. He replaced John Bruton as EU's special envoy in the US, who stepped down in October. According to the EUobserver, the appointment of De Almeida happened without Catherine Ashton to know about it. According to the Lisbon Treaty the High Representative for Foreign Affairs is responsible for the establishment of the new European External Affairs Service and for the appointment of new EU representatives around the world. Ashton said, however, that she made the choice of De Almeida personally and added that the American partners were delighted of it.

The issue was raised in a letter the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt sent to his EU colleagues, asking for how the appointment was made, since the rules governing the procedure are still under discussion by member states. In fact the way the key appointments abroad will be made was a major issue during Ashton's hearing in the European Parliament when the MEPs insisted that all appointments should pass through them.

In the meantime the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Catherine Ashton held a bilateral meeting with Bulgaria's foreign minister Nikolay Mladenov with whom she discussed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia's European integration. Ashton visited these countries last week. According to the Ministry's press release, Mr Mladenov offered "a more expedient use of Bulgaria's expertise in formulating European policy toward the Western Balkans and other regions where Bulgaria has traditional interests".

Nikolay Mladenov also made it clear that Bulgaria will no longer stand passively not only while the new European Service is being established but also in formulating EU policies.

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