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You are here : Home > News > Speeches > March 2005 > Speech by the President of the Council of the European Union, Jean Asselborn, during the London Meeting on support for the Palestinian Authority on 1 March 2005
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Speech by the President of the Council of the European Union, Jean Asselborn, during the London Meeting on support for the Palestinian Authority on 1 March 2005

Date of Speech : 01-03-2005

Place : London

Speaker : Jean Asselborn

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Mr President,

Mr Prime Minister,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First and foremost, I should like to thank Prime Minister Tony Blair for organising this meeting that is being held at a particularly important and opportune moment.

I should also like to extend my kindest regards to the President of the Palestinian Authority whose difficult task it is to guide his people on the path towards democracy and the rule of law with a view to establishing an independent Palestinian State. I wish to pay tribute to him for his brave decisions and the determination he has shown.

Today’s meeting provides an opportunity for the international community to support the ongoing Palestinian efforts to consolidate the structures of the future Palestinian State.

From the outset, I should also like to express my heartfelt feelings following last Friday’s attack in Tel Aviv. Those responsible for this terrible act are not in any way seeking to secure the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, but are seeking to destroy all peace hopes. It is important not give in to their pressure. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative for the Palestinian Authority to continue to act against all terrorist groups who are opposed to peace and to ensure that the perpetrators of this terrifying attack are apprehended and put on trial. I am confident that, in the light of the statements made by President Abbas, this course of action will be pursued with the necessary determination and conviction.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 1980, the nine countries of the European Community recognised for the first time the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to self-determination. Since then, the European Union has been working constantly towards the creation of a viable, democratic and peaceful Palestinian State.

Palestinians have a right to peace, to dignity, to a future and to a State. The European Union’s support for a viable and contiguous Palestinian State is based on the conviction that the region’s development is crucial for all countries in the region, not only for their prosperity, but also for their security. In this context the European experience of reconciliation and integration can serve as an example.

I am particularly pleased that the goal of two States is henceforth shared by everyone.

Since 1980, the European Union’s assistance for the Palestinian people has increased. Today, this support manifests itself through aid in favour of the consolidation of institutions, and through development aid to favour the construction of a Palestinian State. At the same time, the Union seeks to satisfy the humanitarian and emergency needs of the Palestinian people through - among other means - its support for UN agencies such as UNWRA. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner will elaborate further on this issue. Of course, the support the Member States of the European Union provide at bilateral level should also be mentioned.

Through the provision of budgetary aid, the EU also managed to prevent the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, particularly during difficult periods when their customs revenue was blocked. The European Union has thus lent its concrete support to Palestinian reforms and to the strengthening of efficient Palestinian institutions.

In the economic field, the European Union is a committed partner at the Donors’ Committee and the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC). It further advocates strengthening the World Bank Trust Fund, which enables the essential requirement of reforms to be linked to the Palestinians’ needs.

Mr President,

In future, the European Union also intends to work closely with the Palestinian Authority in a bid to realise the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. To this end, it will develop the short-term action plan adopted by the European Council last November. The High Representative Javier Solana will speak in more detail about the plan this afternoon.

However, security does not by itself allow to secure peace.

To achieve this objective, all parties must implement without delay the road map agreed by the Quartet, accepted by the two parties and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council in its Resolution 1515. The objective must be a negotiated settlement based on international law.

Palestinian reforms must go hand in hand with the relaunching of a political process. They must bring more transparency and effectiveness to the functioning of Palestinian institutions, and thereby pave the way for the creation of a Palestinian State.

Palestinian leaders have clearly chosen democracy. Through the holding of free elections, they have affirmed their commitment to install legitimate and democratic Palestinian institutions, which will be the best partners for peace.

The establishment of an independent legal system and a harmonised legal framework will be important within this context, as will the introduction of a transparent financial system.

Therefore, the European Union is particularly pleased by the Palestinian Authority’s declaration on institutional renewal and wishes to reiterate its support for the efforts made to pursue this process.

Prime Minister,

One cannot make peace alone: cooperation is an essential element in the search for peace. The desire for reconciliation must prevail against the logic of confrontation.

The determination expressed by the two parties at the Charm el Cheikh Summit to work together in a spirit of understanding and cooperation must be continued.

The commitments subscribed to by the two parties must be respected. The international community must lend its full support to this aim. Respect for identities and people’s rights is the only means by which we can achieve peace.

The road map points the way towards the peace and security we so dearly wish for the Israelis, the Palestinians, and for the whole region.

If we wish to alleviate tension and restrain passions, conquer fear, frustration and despair and put a lasting end to violence and terrorism in the region and beyond, we must do everything in our power to reach a just and lasting solution.

The settlement of the conflict in the Middle East cannot wait any longer.

Thank you for your kind attention.

This page was last modified on : 02-03-2005

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