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Extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council on Mali

Volume 557: debated on Tuesday 22 January 2013

I attended the extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 17 January. The Foreign Affairs Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland. The Malian Foreign Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly attended a plenary discussion. Commissioner Piebalgs (Development) was also in attendance for some of the discussions.

A provisional report of the meeting and conclusions adopted can be found at:


Ministers agreed Council conclusions condemning the military offensive against Malian forces by terrorist groups. Ministers expressed solidarity with Mali, and supported France’s intervention and leadership. The importance of African contribution was emphasised, and the role of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was welcomed. Ministers supported the rapid deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2085, and expressed the EU’s willingness to support AFISMA financially.

I stressed that alongside the military campaign there needed to be concrete progress on the political track, both in Bamako and in relation to non-extremist groups in the north.

EU Training Mission

Ministers also adopted a Council decision formally establishing an EU military mission to contribute to the training of the Malian Armed Forces (EUTM Mali). General François Lecointre was appointed as the mission commander. The planning process for the mission will now be accelerated: the EU’s intention is to launch the EUTM Mali in mid-February, following a further Council decision. This decision will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the usual manner. The mission commander was invited to send the first technical team to Bamako within the next few days. The EUTM will not have a combat role. Its purpose is to train Malian soldiers.

I will continue to update Parliament on future Foreign Affairs Councils.