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Source: European Commission
10 January 2005

European Commission congratulates Mr Mahmoud Abbas on his election as President

I am encouraged by the election for the President of the Palestinian Authority which was held yesterday and welcome the preliminary findings of the European Union Election Observation Mission which state that this was ‘a genuine effort to conduct a regular electoral process’. I would like to congratulate Mr Mahmoud Abbas on his election as President.

I would like, in particular, to underline the importance of the role of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission which should be permitted to operate in full independence.

The European Commission now attaches particular importance to the organisation of credible Palestinian Legislative Council elections later this year.

The presidential elections in Palestine are an important step forward on the way to creating a democratic and viable Palestinian state.

The Palestinian people need leaders with the legitimacy that only credible elections can bring. I hope these elections will help create the climate in which we all – the Palestinians, Israelis, and the international community - can return to a peace process worthy of the name.

We look to the new leadership to seize the chance to bring a better future for the people of the region. The EU will certainly support all those who sincerely seek a negotiated settlement.

I am particularly pleased that the Commission was able to contribute by organising and sending the EU's biggest ever observation mission with 260 members.

The Commission has provided longstanding support to the electoral process in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with support and technical assistance since 2003 amounting to €14 million, and looks forward to continuing its assistance in the run-up to legislative elections.

The Commission wishes to work closely with the Palestinian Authority and the new Palestinian leadership to ensure that the EU continues to make a positive contribution to the implementation of the Quartet Roadmap and the aim of establishing a democratic and viable Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy will continue to spearhead Commission efforts in this regard, and will work towards deepening relations with the Palestinian Authority through the European Neighbourhood Policy and through our programmes in support of reform, good governance, and economic development.

José Manuel Barroso
President, European Commission

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