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We respect the General Court of the European Union's judgement delivered today annulling measures against Hamas, namely the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organisation and the freezing of Hamas' funds.

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The surge of tensions in Chechnya, in particular relating to the recent terrorist attacks in Grozny, calls for a measured response.

We extend our condolences to the families of the victims. Those responsible for serious crimes in Chechnya, whether acts of terrorism or human rights violations, should be brought to justice.

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Today another Wall has started to fall. President Obama's announcement of important US policy measures towards Cuba heralds a long awaited change in the fraught relations between the Caribbean island nation and its North American neighbour, for which I personally congratulated Secretary of State John Kerry today. The initiative to re-establish diplomatic relations after over half a century of estrangement and the proposals for expanding the possibilities of contact and exchanges between Cubans and Americans are an historical turning point.

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The attack today on a military school in Peshawar leaves all of us in shock. When innocents are killed, when children are targeted in their place of study, it is an attack not only on universally recognised values and rights but also on the future of the country, on all our futures. 

I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and my support to the people and the authorities of Pakistan on this tragic day.

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EU response to the crisis 
The challenges facing the Central African Republic (CAR) are so complex and interlinked that only a comprehensive approach focused on security, humanitarian aid, stabilisation and development cooperation will help make a difference.  This is the approach favoured by the European Union (EU).

The events of 15 December 2013 and beyond, which pushed South Sudan into armed conflict only two and a half years after independence, have drastically changed the prospects for the world’s newest country. While we are marking the one-year anniversary of this disastrous conflict, there is little reason for optimism. Despite a year of negotiations under IGAD, the warring parties have failed to conclude any meaningful political agreement while civilians continue to live in a situation of extreme insecurity, which threatens to worsen in the coming weeks. 

The main issue of today's Foreign Affairs Council was Syria.  We started by preparing our discussion yesterday with an extremely good meeting with the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. I said this morning that you would have more details about the concrete support that the European Union can give to his efforts. First of all you might have seen already the conclusions we adopted through a very a smooth process, as they were already agreed before entering the meeting. This gave some space for a real in-depth political debate amongst all the ministers.

Today is the second anniversary of the unexplained disappearance of Sombath Somphone in Vientiane, Laos.

Sombath Somphone is a recipient of the Magsaysay prize, a highly-respected member of civil society in Laos and the successful co-organiser of the Asia-Europe People-to-People Forum that took place in Laos in 2012. He has many friends not only in Laos and throughout Asia, but also in Europe.

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