I would like to explain the vote by the countries of the European Union on the resolution on the Syrian Golan, contained in doc L. 23.
The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union remains concerned about the situation in the Middle East. In this context, the European Union stresses the crucial importance of the Annapolis Conference and the renewed commitment to a two-State solution. We commend the efforts of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and congratulate them for the decision to take the historic step of immediately launching final status negotiations on all core issues, as specified in previous agreements. The European Union also welcomes the pledge made by the Parties of reaching an agreement before the end of 2008.
The Annapolis Conference represented a turning point for regional and international partners to effectively support a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. There can be no military solution to the Middle East conflict. The settlement of the situation in the Middle East, including on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, must be based on Security Council Resolution 242, which emphasises the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every state in the region can live in security, and on subsequent resolutions 338, 1397 and 1515. It must be based on the Madrid terms of reference, in particular the principle of land for peace, as well as on the implementation of the Road Map and all existing agreements between the parties. We reiterate our intention to continue working relentlessly with the regional parties as part of the Middle East Quartet towards that goal.
The European Union would like to reiterate that a final peace settlement will not be complete without taking account of the Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon aspects. Negotiations should resume as soon as possible with the aim of reaching an agreement.
It should be recalled that on 26 of November, the European Union voted in favour of the resolution on the Syrian Golan in the Fourth Committee, which called upon Israel to desist from changing the demographic composition of the occupied Syrian Golan and in particular to desist from the establishment of settlements. We believe that the resolution on the Syrian Golan under todays agenda item contains references which could undermine the process of bilateral negotiations. For that reason, as in previous years, the EU has abstained on this resolution.
Finally, in the spirit of rationalising the work of the General Assembly Agenda, the European Union would prefer to have only one resolution dealing with this issue before this body.
Thank you Mr. President.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.