Thank you for giving the floor to the European Union!
The Acceding Country Croatia*, the Candidate Country Montenegro*, the Country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Albania and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
Over the past few years, we have heard very often in these tri-monthly open Security Council debates on the situation in the Middle East, that the Peace Process is at a critical juncture and that decisive progress is needed now, in order to finally turn the legitimate aspirations of the peoples of the region for peace, security and statehood into a reality. At the start of this new year – more than ever – such calls from the international community are needed once again to help both sides of this conflict to settle their differences and agree on the terms of a comprehensive solution.
The European Union welcomes and supports the efforts by Jordan to facilitate direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, as part of the Quartet process. The European Union calls on both parties to come forward with comprehensive proposals on borders and security, as envisaged in the Quartet statement of 23 September. A bold and decisive demonstration of political leadership is needed from both sides to maintain the momentum of the talks. Like others have done during this meeting, the EU wishes to stress once again the central role of the Quartet in this context and to express its full support for the ongoing Quartet process aiming at an agreement between the parties not later than by the end of 2012.
The Quartet statement issued on 23 September of last year called on both parties to have made substantial progress within 6 months, and to reach an agreement by the end of 2012. In this vein, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, hosted a meeting of Quartet envoys in Brussels on 9 October, to launch the process. The Quartet envoys subsequently met the parties separately on 26 October, 14 November and 14 December in Jerusalem. Jordan then took the initiative to invite the Quartet and the parties on 3 January for a joint meeting. That meeting was a positive step, since it was the first one in the current context during which the parties met face to face. At that meeting, the parties agreed to further bilateral preparatory meetings under Jordanian auspices.
The European Union reaffirms its commitment to a two state solution. The legitimacy of the State of Israel and the right of Palestinians to achieve statehood must never be called into question. The European Union reaffirms its clear positions on negotiations, with regard to parameters, principles and issues, including the conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in December 2009, December 2010, May, July and October 2011 as well as the conclusions adopted yesterday and the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union in the UN Security Council on 21 April 2011. The European Union also reiterates its support to the Arab Peace Initiative. At its 10th anniversary, this initiative deserves renewed attention.
The European Union underlines the urgency of finding a negotiated solution and urges the parties to refrain from actions that undermine the prospects of peace. The European Union calls on the parties to demonstrate their commitment to a peaceful solution and to the Quartet process by actions that can build confidence and create an environment of trust necessary to ensure meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive and lasting peace.
Developments on the ground play a crucial part in creating the context for successful negotiations. The European Union reiterates that settlements, the separation barrier where built on occupied land, demolition of homes and evictions are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible. The European Union urges the government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities, in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank and including natural growth, and to dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001.
The European Union remains one of the major supporters and contributors to the Palestinian institution and state-building efforts led by President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. The European Union remains dedicated to continuing its support to the Palestinian Authority’s successful state-building efforts that has been acknowledged as a remarkable success. The continuing financial difficulties of the Palestinian Authority risk putting in danger the achievements made so far in institution-building. Therefore the European Union underlines the necessity in providing predictable and further support to the Palestinian Authority and calls for equitable burden-sharing by the international donor community. The EU has consistently called for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind President Mahmoud Abbas as an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two state solution.
As regards Gaza in particular, the European Union calls for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), the full respect of international humanitarian law and for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza including goods from the West Bank. In this context the European Union expresses its concerns about the dismantling of the Karni crossing and repeats its calls for the full implementation of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. The European Union had welcomed the measures announced by the Israeli Government as a step forward. However, more is needed. The European Union calls for full implementation and complementary measures in order to achieve a fundamental change of policy that allows for the reconstruction and economic recovery of Gaza – including through exports. The European Union has offered its assistance for achieving this objective. The European Union calls for a solution addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns. The EU wholeheartedly condemns any actions in which civilians are hurt or killed.
In conclusion, regarding Syria, the European Union remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in the country and the widespread and systematic violations of human rights perpetrated by the Syrian authorities against their people, that may amount to crimes against humanity. The European Union calls again for an immediate end to the violence is particularly concerned by the recent escalation of violence and reiterates its condemnation in the strongest terms of the brutal crackdown by the Syrian government which risks exacerbating even further the spiral of violence, sectarian clashes and militarization. President Assad must step aside immediately to allow for a peaceful and democratic transition.
The European Union recalls its support to the League of Arab States’ efforts to end the cycle of violence in Syria, and to the deployment of its monitoring mission. The European Union welcomes the decision of the United Nations to provide assistance to the League of Arab States’ observer missions. It condemns the attacks on the League of Arab State’ missions monitors : the Syrian authorities have a responsibility to protect the observers in their country. The European Union is deeply concerned by the Syrian authorities’ lack of cooperation and urges them to fully comply with their commitments under the League of Arab States’ Action Plan to completely stop acts of violence against civilians, free political detainees, remove troops, tanks and weapons from cities, and allow independent observers and the media, to freely travel in and report on Syria.
European Union urges all members of the Security Council to uphold their responsibilities to end the violence against the Syrian population and support the Syrian people in their legitimate desire for freedom and political rights. In this regard, the European Union will continue engage with representative members of the Syrian opposition, such as the SNC, which adhere to non-violence, inclusiveness and democratic values.
Thank you Mr President.
* Croatia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.