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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: European Union
3 March 2004

Brussels, 3 March 2004

Javier Solana,
European Union High Representative for the
Common Foreign and Security Policy

Summary of the Statement made at the press conference

CAIRO, 3 March 2004
11.30 a.m. (local time)

• I just had a fruitful meeting with President Mubarak. I am pleased to be here responding to his invitation to discuss several issues, before his visit to some European capitals.

• We addressed our concerns about the current stalemate in the Middle East Peace Process. I reiterated the EU’s deep commitment to the implementation of the Roadmap.

• We shared our preoccupation about the current state of affairs, but we also shared our determination to reenergize our efforts to bring about some progress. I thank President Mubarak for Egypt’s continuing efforts and vision, even in the most difficult and challenging times.

• The European Union believes that this is the time to seize every opportunity. Now, consider the recent unilateral initiative by the Israeli Government to announce a possible withdrawal from Gaza. This could be a useful move if it is implemented within the framework of the Quartet’s Roadmap and in co-ordination with the Palestinian side. We think that an early meeting between Prime Minister Sharon and Prime Minister Qurei could also be of great importance.

• I am encouraged that Egypt, as always, remains committed to play its part with the same level of engagement. Particularly, in view of the forthcoming Arab League Summit, scheduled for the end of the month. We strongly believe that a proactive stance of the Arab countries, along the lines of the initiative launched at the Beirut Summit two years ago, could give new impetus to the peace efforts.

• The EU also stands ready to play its part, in order to support this endeavour, as it was the case during the preparations for the Beirut Summit of 2002.

• We had a thorough discussion about ideas and proposals that are being put forward in support of the process of reform in the Arab world.

• The European Union has already a strong, strategic partnership with the countries of the Middle East at large. In this context, in the current junction at the beginning of the XXI century and in the midst of the process of globalisation, we need to confront all these challenges in a renewed partnership.

• We should never be afraid of reforms. European countries and institutions are in a process of permanent reform. Arabs and Europeans are willing to listen to each other to understand better the complexity of these shared challenges and objectives.

• Our partnership is based on solid foundations: the Barcelona Process. Last year we reinforced its structures in Naples through stronger links, such as the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly. We hold the view that future initiatives should build on the Barcelona Process and on our co-operation with the Golf countries.

• There is no other way. The impulse for reform must come from within the region. Ownership is key to success. As it is long-term commitment. We see our partnership as a long-term and sustained engagement. Reform is a multifaceted challenge, which encompasses change in the economic field, education, addressing social issues, promoting good governance and fostering civil society.

• You are certainly aware that the EU has adopted a Security Strategy. As it is clearly stated in this policy document the Arab-Israeli conflict should be at the heart of our policies. Indeed, the resolution of the conflict is a strategic priority for Europe. Without this, there will be little chance of dealing with other problems in the region. Therefore, in parallel to the efforts to reform it is essential to reinvigorate the Middle East Peace Process.

• Today I am going to attend the Arab League Ministerial meeting. In my contacts with Arab Ministers I will address both the current situation in the Arab-Israeli conflict and ways and means to overcome the stalemate and the challenges and opportunities of reform in the Arab world.

• I believe that the Arab League Summit in Tunisia offers a good and timely opportunity to take these two issues forward.

Cristina Gallach - Spokesperson of the Secretary General, High Representative for CFSP
_ + 32 (0)2 285 6467 / 6217 / 8239 / 5150/ 5151 _ + 32 (0)2 285 5694

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