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Source: European Union (EU)
19 July 2007

Middle East Quartet: a step towards peace

The Middle East conflict is not just a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, but a problem which concerns the whole of the international community,” said Luís Amado, Portuguese Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, at the Press Conference held by the Middle East Quartet. Amado told reporters that this meeting in Lisbon may bring a new thrust to the peace process, and stressed Tony Blair’s importance as Special Envoy of the Quartet.

According to the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, this meeting, which brought together former Prime Minister of Britain Tony Blair, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and the European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, is an important step towards the peacemaking and stability in the Middle East. “That is what we worked for”, said Luís Amado.

According to the joint statement of the Middle East Quartet, announced by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the representatives at this meeting urge both parties in the conflict, Israel and Palestine, to work towards a stable and lasting peace in the region. The Quartet stated its support to President Abbas and to President George Bush’s recent proposals for the Middle East.

“The Quartet reaffirmed its commitment to bring about an end to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and to work to lay the foundation for the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security, consistently with the Roadmap and UN Security Council resolutions”, stated Ban-Ki-moon. According to the Quartet Joint Statement, a new meeting is scheduled for September.

It is with “great satisfaction” that Tony Blair sees this opportunity for contributing to the goals of the Quartet. The former British Prime Minister informed the reporters that he would visit the region in order to “listen, absorb and reflect” so as to find the solutions that may make peace a reality. “I believe I can offer something in trying to bring about a solution”, said Tony Blair.

Blair added that this Quartet meeting enhances the sense that “we can regain momentum” on the Middle East peace process. “No other issue is as relevant to peace in the world. And I believe in this cause.”

Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, told reporters that, after another meeting round with Israelis and Palestinians, he had returned with “moderate optimism”. As for the Gaza Strip situation, Solana made clear that “[the Quartet] will continue to help the Palestinian people living in Gaza”.

Such determination is shared by Condoleezza Rice. The U.S. Secretary of State said that the Quartet’s policy is still grounded on the Two-state solution, one for Israel, another for Palestine. “This is a recommitment of the international community.” Underlining George Bush’s declarations, Condoleezza Rice clearly stated the need for a solution involving the establishment, in the Palestinian State of “solid, democratic, and incorruptible institutions.”

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