Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Clare Daly (Dublin North, Socialist Party)
Question 74: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will ensure that Ireland will adopt independent foreign policy positions in relation to the events in Syria and Iran. [9610/12]
Eamon Gilmore (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
Irish foreign policy is formulated in keeping with the national interest in keeping with this country’s traditional values and role in the world. We seek also to act in concert with other states in order to achieve practical results. In particular, Ireland has committed itself, as a member of the European Union, to seek to coordinate where possible on foreign policy issues, so as to achieve greater effect in pursuit of the values we share with our fellow members. As successive Governments have made clear, Ireland shares the widely expressed concerns of the international community about Iran’s nuclear programme. We have fully supported the efforts of the EU to try to engage Iran in constructive dialogue on these concerns, including most recently through agreeing two further rounds of sanctions at the Foreign Affairs Councils held on 1 December 2011 and 23 January 2012. It is my belief that international cooperation in maintaining and intensifying pressure on Iran, including through the imposition of even tougher sanctions, has been of great influence in persuading the Iranian Government, even if belatedly, in the past week to respond positively to the offer of talks which High Representative Ashton had made last October on behalf of the E3 + 3. I hope the Iranian side will enter negotiations this time in a genuine spirit of compromise and cooperation.
The grave situation in Syria is also one which requires the full engagement of the international community. Ireland is playing its part, bilaterally, with EU partners and at the UN. I have made clear the Government’s unequivocal condemnation of the continued violence against civilians in Syria, including when addressing the UN Security Council on 9 February. I have also fully supported the robust economic, political and diplomatic measures taken by the EU, UN and Arab League to compel the Syrian regime to cease its appalling and unacceptable attacks on the Syrian people. Ireland voted in favour, along with the EU and an overwhelming majority of UN member states, of a UN General Assembly Resolution calling for an end to the violence in Syria and implementation of the Arab League peace plan on 16 February. I reiterate the urgent need also for the Security Council to agree a strong resolution on Syria.
The Government, together with its EU partners, will continue to work with the Arab League, UN and other international partners until the violence against Syrian civilians ceases.