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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Jean Asselborn: "The EU wishes to deepen its cooperation with the countries of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East"

Date of release : 16-04-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : Informal Meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs (Gymnich)

At the close of the second day of the informal meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union at the Senningen Chateau near Luxembourg, current Council chairman Jean Asselborn summarised the discussions on relations between the EU and the Mediterranean region and the Middle East: 

"Our discussion today was motivated by the desire to have an in-depth exchange of views on the EU’s relations with the different countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East and to discuss the developments taking place in this region and the challenges it faces.

Our debate this morning clearly brought out several things:

The EU has a set of consistent policies and instruments for the countries of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, and this has been the case for the past several years.

As for the Mediterranean, we have been investing in modernization and reforms through MEDA funds and other means for over a decade. This has been an ongoing investment that has been around for a long time.

The EU is committed to promoting economic and political reforms in the Mediterranean region and in the Middle East. The EU is convinced that reforms can succeed only if they are generated from within the societies and not imposed from the outside.

We also place great importance on differentiating among the countries in question.

Briefly, this means that existing forums must be used in order to, on the one hand, strengthen existing cooperation - as is already the case for the Mediterranean - and on the other hand, together with the relevant countries, explore new avenues for cooperation, and this applies mainly to the Gulf Region.

This is of course a gradual approach, step by step. Our challenge is to make our policies better known abroad, but also and especially to promote the values and principles that are dear to the European Union.

Another relevant theme we debated was regional security. This issue is particularly useful in light of current thinking on the integration of Iraq into the region.

Security and stability are indeed essential factors for peaceful development, both inside the countries and among them, as well as for regional integration.

The discussions on all of these subjects will be continued in the coming weeks and months, especially in view of the major events this year. As for the Barcelona Process, the next major event is the EUROMED ministerial on 30 - 31 May here in Luxembourg, and the celebration of the 10th anniversary in Barcelona in November.

These meetings will allow us to continue to strengthen relations with these important partners of the European Union.

When President Bush visited Brussels on 22 February, the European Union and the United States stated that if the Government of Iraq so requested, they were prepared to organise an international conference to support Iraq. Such a meeting could also deal with the issue of coordinating assistance to Iraq. We are in the process of examining the possibilities for holding such a conference in early June in Brussels if the Government of Iraq so desires."

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This page was last modified on : 16-04-2005

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