Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
Question 73: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Britain recently supplied military equipment, including components for military combat vehicles, weapons night sights, communications and range finding, valued at more than £1 million to Egypt’s armed forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9612/12]
Eamon Gilmore (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
The recent elections in Egypt were free, fair and transparent. I regard the success of the elections as a clear sign that Egypt has embarked on the first steps of its democratic transition. However, I share the concerns of many in Egypt that the pace of the transition is too slow and urge the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to hand over power to civilian rule as soon as possible. I am also disturbed by the large number of deaths and injuries caused by the security forces in Egypt since the downfall of former President Mubarak. I urge the authorities to take steps to ensure that law and order is maintained in a manner consistent with human rights, including the right to freedom of assembly. The decision to transfer or deny the transfer of any military equipment or technology is at the national discretion of each exporting State.
In 2008, the EU adopted a Common Position which defines the rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment by Member States. Under this Common Position, Member States assess all licence applications for military exports against a series of Common Criteria. There are eight separate criteria which take into account the effect that the arms transfer could have on the country of final destination. The factors assessed include, among others, the human rights situation on the ground, the existence of tensions or armed conflict, the preservation of regional peace, security and stability, the question of whether the export could affect the sustainable development of the importing state, and the risk of exported military technology or equipment being diverted within the buyer country or re-exported under undesirable conditions.
As a result of the Common Position, I would note that armaments companies in the EU are in compliance with one of the strictest export control regimes in the world.
The operation of the Council Common Position is kept under constant review by Member States in light of changing circumstances in individual buyer countries. Ireland strongly supports the Common Position and expects it to be fully implemented by all Member States. The Deputy can be assured that in discussions with our EU partners I will continue to make our position on this very clear.