£19 Million Package To Mark Armistice Centenary

£8 million to help with the cost of repairs and refurbishments to village halls and Miners’ Welfare and Armed Forces Organisations facilities

HM Treasury

HM Treasury

To mark the centenary of the First World War Armistice, the government is doubling the amount of money going to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust this year.

An extra £10 million will go to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to support veterans with mental health needs that are not being addressed through current services. The Trust already receives £10 million a year, so for this centenary year, as the Chancellor announced at the recent Budget, this will be doubled. The Covenant Fund Trust makes grants to a wide range of hugely deserving organisations who support the armed forces community. To ensure that young people are given the opportunity to learn about the sacrifices made by previous generations, the Chancellor is also making an additional £1 million available to support First World War battlefields tours for school students. This will build on the success of the existing First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme which gives one teacher and two students from every state-funded secondary school in England a free accredited battlefield tour to the Western Front.

And to make sure local communities can continue to remember the sacrifices of generations past, the Chancellor is also providing up to £8 million to help with the cost of repairs and refurbishments to village halls and Miners’ Welfare and Armed Forces Organisations facilities.

Many of the 16,000 village halls across the UK were built as memorials to local people who lost their lives in the first world war, and also serve as vital social hubs. Armed Forces Organisations, such as the Royal British Legion, provide a focus in the community for veterans, and can support improvements to health and wellbeing.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said:

We owe the men and women who have served their country a huge debt of gratitude, and I am determined to do everything I can to help remember their sacrifice.

Through this funding, we are ensuring that young people can learn from previous generations and keep the memory of their service alive. By preserving our history, we can also provide vital social hubs for local communities. And by caring for today’s veterans we can show that their selfless service, and their sacrifices, will always be remembered, and are hugely valued by a grateful nation.

Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting With Republic Of Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Heather Nauert:‎

Yesterday, Secretary Michael R. Pompeo met with Republic of Cyprus Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides at the State Department. Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Christodoulides agreed on the importance of enhancing the U.S.-Republic of Cyprus relationship and welcomed the signing by Foreign Minister Christodoulides and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs A. Wess Mitchell of the Statement of Intent on strengthening and developing the bilateral security relationship. The Statement of Intent will advance shared interests in combatting terrorism, enhancing maritime and border security, and promoting regional stability. The Secretary reaffirmed longstanding U.S. policy on resources in the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone and also said the United States continues to support Cypriot-led, UN-facilitated efforts to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which would benefit all Cypriots.

Kingdom Of Cambodia’s Independence Day

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I wish to extend congratulations to the people of Cambodia on the 65th anniversary of your independence on November 9.

The strong bond between the U.S. and Cambodian peoples benefits both our countries. Every year, more than 170,000 American tourists experience the beauty and history that Cambodia has to offer, while we in the United States enjoy the many contributions of our Cambodian-American community to the rich and diverse fabric of our society.

We share your hope for the development of a free, prosperous, democratic, and just society.

Speech: Committing To Peace And Security In Bosnia And Herzegovina

Statement by Ambassador Karen Pierce, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the Security Council Briefing on Bosnia and Herzegovina

Security Council meeting on The situation in Libya.

Security Council meeting on The situation in Libya.

Thank you very much indeed Mr President and thank you to the High Representative for your briefing today and for the work of your office to maintain peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has long been a very important issue for this Council. Almost a totemic issue, if one goes back to the start of the conflict in the early 1990s. For the United Kingdom’s part, we remain committed to the continuing role the High Representative and your office. The OHR as it’s known remains the final authority regarding the civilian implementation of the peace agreement, and this includes our support for the use of the Bonn Powers if the situation requires.

We welcome the unanimous adoption of the resolution today, which authorizes EUFOR Althea or a further 12 months. This resolution demonstrates the United Kingdom and the international community’s commitment to security in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The OHR, Mr President, and also EUFOR Althea, are crucial vehicles to allow the international community to support the maintenance of Bosnia and Herzegovina‘s security, stability and territorial integrity, which are vital to the country’s future as a modern, democratic European state.

As I said Mr President, there was once a time when this Council dealt with Bosnia every day of its existence. I have had the privilege of working on and off on the Balkans file for over 20 years. I feel some depression at what the High Representative tells us about how some issues are still not resolved and how they repeat themselves. But I also want to point out that the hard-won peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina is fragile and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. While the current situation remains calm, threats to security remain alongside new challenges, such as an increase in migration, as the High Representative mentioned.

It’s a very important issue for the EU and for Europe. It’s our regional crisis, if you like; it’s something in which the EU has invested a huge amount of time and effort, money and coaching and patience, and we will hear later from the EU ambassador who will be able to set this out more clearly. But I just wanted, Mr President if I may, to address briefly what the Russian ambassador said, speaking before the vote. Russia is a member of the contact group and a member of the steering group for Bosnia and Herzegovina. We would much rather see Russia trying to do everything it can to consolidate Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state to help modernize and to help it make progress towards those Euro-Atlantic institutions that have been, since Dayton, the foundation of its existence as a modern state in its region, Europe. And I think that would be the best service that we could all do Bosnia.

I’d like to turn to the elections. The UK welcomes the calm and orderly conduct during these elections which were genuinely competitive, but we continue to be concerned by the level of ethnic division in politics and by report irregularities and the inability to resolve key issues of election reform prior to the elections was disappointing and it’s an ongoing concern. And the divisive and nationalist political rhetoric that was especially loud out in the run-up to the elections is dangerous and it creates an environment where real long-term security and stability will be difficult to achieve. It’s also backwards-looking, Mr President; what Bosnia needs most of all is to move forwards. Other countries in the Balkans regions are moving forward. They’re making progress on their EU accession arrangements. Where they wish to, they are making progress on getting closer to NATO. This is benefiting regional security and stability and once again Bosnia and Herzegovina risk being left behind from this regional modernization and progress. In particular, those in positions of responsibility should act in the interests of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina rather than spread divisive sentiment. I want to echo what the High Representative said about waiting until these leaders have taken office before we properly hold them to account, but I also want to set out that we will hold them to account. Political leaders need to show leadership. They need to sow tolerance. They need to help modernize their country. As a crucial time post-elections, political leaders must work together in a cooperative manner to form governments quickly so progress can be made on key reforms and on Euro-Atlantic integration and the 5+2 agenda. These reforms are important because they will bring improvements to the day-to-day lives of Bosnian citizens – all of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s citizens. They are also important, Mr President, because they help embed national and regional security and stability, an issue that as I said at the beginning has long occupied this Council.

Those in positions of responsibility should act in the interests of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and it is especially concerning this rhetoric and a reluctance to compromise is indicative of the wider political environment. We will be watching these developments closely.

It’s also important that political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina urgently address all judgements around elections to ensure all citizens have the ability to participate fully in the democratic process as they all deserve. And it’s regrettable that many of these issues have remained unresolved over several election cycles – a significant amount of time. Any resolution to these issues needs to meet international standards and uphold the principle of equality for all citizens, and this includes the ability to elect officials and to be elected.

Conversely Mr President, we welcome the progress made by Bosnia and Herzegovina on certain aspects of reform. For example the adoption of agricultural and energy strategies and the eventual adoption of the criminal procedure code. Although the delay in doing so was regrettable, we also welcome the continued cooperation on women, peace and security, and encourage this to continue.

Finally Mr President I want to echo what the High Representative said about reconciliation. Srebrenica remains the worst massacre in Europe since the Second World War. Eight thousand Muslim men and boys were taken from their homes and they were murdered. It is absolutely vital Mr President that reconciliation efforts are made in genuine earnest and that they are accelerated.

Thank you very much.

Women In Defence Awards Showcase Dstl Scientists

Scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have been honoured for their outstanding contribution in Defence at a glitzy award ceremony held at the Imperial War Museum, London

Team Dstl: Professor Petra Oyston, Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead and Dr Penny Brooke

Team Dstl: Professor Petra Oyston, Chief Executive Gary Aitkenhead and Dr Penny Brooke

270 guests including 30 finalists from across the Defence world attended the third annual Women in Defence UK awards. Hosting the event was BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour presenter Dame Jenni Murray with the Secretary of State for Defence, The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP announcing the winners.

Dstl’s Professor Petra Oyston scooped the top award in the Innovation category for her work in developing synthetic biology techniques for the next generation of materials for protection, such as use in body armour for military personnel. Petra’s work included using genetically modified E. coli to provide a toughening mechanism in ceramic material and producing high strength adhesives from barnacle genes.

On receiving her award, Petra said:

I feel very surprised, there was some very stiff competition, and some absolutely brilliant women here tonight. It just speaks volumes about the high quality work we do at Dstl, and I thank the fabulous team that I’ve had surrounding me delivering brilliant innovative solutions for Defence.

During his opening speech, Gavin Williamson, said:

This year’s nominees hail from right across Defence. Some command teams and others lead cyber. Some specialise in intelligence and others from industry. These are women who have been deployed across the world from Belize to Bosnia, from Kosovo to Kenya, who have fought terror and made Salisbury safe. Not all will take home awards, but each and every one are winners – strengthening our nation and representing the very best of British.

Other Dstl finalists included Penny Brookes, nominated in the Most Collaborative category for her work building an international research team that is delivering cutting-edge forensic techniques to benefit defence and security. Carolyn Stothard was nominated in the Unsung Heroine category – a dedicated line-manager, mentor and mediator who supports many with mental health difficulties and neurodevelopmental conditions.

Dstl’s Chief Executive, Gary Aitkenhead said:

It’s been an absolutely tremendous evening. I am a father of three daughters, I was thinking about them growing and achieving what some of the women here tonight have achieved and to see three Dstl finalists doing fantastic things and for one of them to get a top award is absolutely thrilling – it’s been a brilliant evening, well done to all of them.

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