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Source: European Union (EU)
1 March 2006

Plassnik: "Two-state solution in the Middle East remains our common goal"

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on visit to Vienna


Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik had a meeting with the Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Vienna today in her capacity as President of the Council of the EU. Their discussions centred on the further development of the Middle East peace process following the elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council.

"That Tzipi Livni’s first visit to Europe should be to Vienna is by no means a foregone conclusion. This visit demonstrates the close relations built on trust between the EU and Israel. It is also an expression of our need to keep each other informed about international developments", Foreign Minister Plassnik declared. She said that Europe had always appreciated Israel as a partner. The European Union was not only Israel’s most important trading partner, Israel also had a pioneering role in the European neighbourhood policy and 10 years ago had been the first non-European country to participate in the EC’s research framework programmes.

In light of recent events, the discussions centred on the development in the Middle East. "We are all faced with a new situation on the ground following Hamas' victory in the elections. It is now important to demonstrate steadfastness, clarity and patience”, Plassnik stressed. 

Plassnik pointed out that the European Union had adopted a clear stance a few days after the elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, which was shared by the Middle East Quartet. "The European Union is convinced that, in the current transitional situation, President Mahmud Abbas has a central role to play in maintaining stability, and the Union supports him in his efforts to find a peaceful solution. We have called explicitly on Hamas to renounce violence, to lay down their weapons and to recognise Israel’s right to exist. We have formulated very concrete expectations of all members of the new Palestinian Legislative Council: they should support the formation of a government committed to a peaceful, negotiated solution with Israel on the basis of existing agreements and the Middle East road map. The new government must also be committed to the principles of the rule of law and sound finances. Violence and terror are incompatible with a democratic process. This is our position and there is no reason to change it", Foreign Minister Plassnik made clear.

Plassnik said that the EU was prepared on this basis to continue to support the economic development and the construction of a democratic Palestinian state. She also referred to the decision last Monday by EU Finance Ministers to provide emergency financial assistance to meet the basic needs of the Palestinian people. These resources will be used to pay electricity bills and for humanitarian purposes. During the meeting with Foreign Minister Livni,  considerable space was also devoted to the issue of how practical support could be provided to the Palestinian people without at the same time financing terror.

On bilateral relations with Israel Plassnik said: "Austria and Israel can look back on half a century of ever more intensive diplomatic relations. Our relations are excellent. There is still great potential, particularly in the economic sector", she concluded.

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