A look at the work of the Foreign Office and its embassies overseas this week.
Foreign Secretary William Hague talked about the European Union’s greatest achievements and the challenges that face the EU moving forward at the Korber Conference in Berlin. He outlined three great problems that need to be solved if the European Union is to succeed, “First, how we structure the EU when many countries want differing kinds of integration and still preserve the EU’s essential unity. Second, how we deal with the problem of democratic legitimacy and accountability of decision-making in the EU, which is a growing concern in most Member States. Third, how we get the right balance of what the EU does do or doesn’t do.”
Also this week, details about the review of the balance of competences assessing the EU’s impact on the UK have been published, including information about how you can feed in.
The Foreign Secretary visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia to discuss progress towards EU membership. Following the visit he said, “The stability and prosperity of the Western Balkans matters to the United Kingdom and is crucial to the peaceful and secure future of Europe. My visit, shortly after the European Union has issued its annual reports on the progress of the region towards EU membership, allowed me to renew the UK’s continued commitment to EU enlargement to all the countries of the Western Balkans.”
During his visit to Serbia the Foreign Secretary met men and women who endured appalling sexual violence during the war in Bosnia and sought their views on the UK Initiative on Preventing Sexual Violence in conflict.
The Foreign Secretary announced the re-opening of Britain’s Embassy in Madagascar after seven years. He said, “This will enable us to provide more effective systematic support to British business, a stronger trade and investment relationship with Madagascar, and full consular assistance to British residents and visitors.” This is the latest in a series of announcements of new British embassies and this week the Foreign Secretary launched an infographic showing where the new British posts are being opened.
Zoe Smith, the Deputy Head of Mission for the Embassy in San Salvador, blogged about the new diplomatic posts. She said, “Diplomats are being ‘shifted’, quite literally, to the new posts being opened in these regions, to make the most of opportunities that can be generated from closer diplomatic, cultural and commercial relationships with the UK.”
Today more people are trafficked each year than the total number of those trafficked in the 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade. Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire spoke alongside Home Office Minister Mark Harper, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Salvation Army, and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) to call for greater international cooperation to tackle Human Trafficking. At an event held at the Foreign Office Hugo Swire said, “Human Trafficking is abhorrent; many of the victims are children who are subjected to horrifying ordeals. Governments have a moral duty to take action, and take action together.”
This infographic published this week shows the main countries of origin for potential victims trafficked into the UK.
Read the full text of Hugo Swire’s speech
Also this week:
Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt marked the anniversary of the Declaration of Liberation.
Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt condemned the execution of 10 people on the 22 October in Iran.
The Prime Minister wished Eid Mubarak to all those celebrating around the world.
Embassies marked the launch of the poppy appeal