I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and Montenegro*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.
The European Union strongly condemns the deadly terrorist attack on a bus carrying Israeli citizens that took place in Bulgaria on 18 July 2012. Those responsible for this horrible and barbaric act of terrorism that claimed the lives of Israeli and Bulgarian civilians should be prosecuted and brought to justice. The European Union expresses its solidarity with the Bulgarian and Israeli people and its deepest sympathy with the families of the victims and all affected as a consequence of this appalling act of violence. The European Union reiterates its strong and unequivocal condemnation of all forms and acts of terrorism, independently of origin, cause or motive and its unwavering commitment to the fight against terrorism.
The EU remains deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Syria. The EU strongly condemns the ever increasing use of force by the regime, including use of heavy artillery and shelling against populated areas in blatant violation of its obligations under the Annan Plan and UNSC resolutions 2042 and 2043. It is appalled by the horrific killings in the village of Tremseh on 12 July 2012. The EU calls for an immediate international independent investigation. The EU urges the Syrian regime to end immediately the killing of civilians, withdraw the Syrian army from besieged towns and cities and to allow for a peaceful transition for the sake of the country. International humanitarian law must be respected by all. The EU is deeply concerned about the recent intensification of violence, including in Damascus, which demonstrates the urgent need for a political transition that would meet the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people and bring back stability in Syria. The EU remains committed to the sovereignty, independence, national unity and territorial integrity of Syria.
The EU recalls its full support to the Joint UN-League of Arab States Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s mission and his six point plan that must be implemented. It welcomes the outcome of the Action Group meeting in Geneva on 30 June 2012 and in particular the call for the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers made up of opposition and government representatives and formed by mutual consent. The EU encourages Kofi Annan to continue working on the implementation of this transition plan and urges all parties to support these efforts.
The EU deeply regrets that the UNSC has not been able to agree to a UNSC resolution which would have endorsed the communiqué of the Action Group and foreseen measures to enforce compliance with the Annan Plan under Article 41 of the UN Chapter. The EU regrets that the UNSC has thus failed to uphold its responsibilities and to back the Joint Special Envoy’s efforts. The EU calls for united action by all members of the UNSC, including Russia and China, to add more robust and effective pressure and ensure that there will be serious consequences for continued non compliance with its previous decisions.
The EU welcomes the decision to renew the mandate of UNSMIS for a final period of 30 days, taking into account the UN Secretary-General’s recommendations to reconfigure the Mission and taking into consideration the operational implications of the increasingly dangerous security situation in Syria. The EU recalls that the Syrian authorities are responsible for ensuring the security and safety of the mission. The EU is ready to provide the needed support to guarantee the success of the supervision mission.
The EU welcomes the National Pact and the Common Political Vision for the transition in Syria issued following the Syrian opposition conference held under the auspices of the Arab League in Cairo on 2-3 July and encourages all groups to continue engaging in this process. The EU continues to urge all opposition groups to put aside their differences and to agree on a set of shared principles and start working towards an inclusive, orderly and peaceful transition in Syria. The EU urges all opposition groups to continue support to Annan’s efforts and to be ready to provide leadership and engage with the transition plan designed by the Action Group for Syria on 30 June. All Syrians must have a place in the new Syria and enjoy equal rights, regardless of their origin, affiliations, religion, beliefs or gender.
On Monday, the EU agreed on measures to strengthen the enforcement of its arms embargo and will continue to urge the international community to join its efforts, in taking steps to apply and enforce restrictive measures on the Syrian regime and its supporters.
On the Middle East Peace Process our objective remains the same. Changes across the Arab world point at the urgent need for progress. The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of strategic importance to the entire region and beyond. The EU is convinced that heeding the aspirations of the people in the region, including those of Palestinians for statehood and those of Israelis for security is a crucial element for lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
It is in the fundamental interest of the EU, of the parties and of the wider region to resolve the conflict, which can be achieved through a comprehensive peace agreement, based on the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the Madrid principles, the Roadmap, the agreements previously reached by the parties and the Arab Peace Initiative.
The European Union stresses once again the central role of the Quartet in this context and has redoubled its efforts with Quartet partners to facilitate contacts between the parties in order to resume direct and substantive negotiations. Our position is clear: negotiations are the best way forward. The EU reiterates its call on the parties to demonstrate their commitment to a peaceful solution by actions that can create an environment of trust necessary to ensure meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive and lasting peace. The EU will continue contributing, including within the Quartet, to a negotiated solution.
The EU remains unequivocally committed to the security of Israel, including with regard to vital threats in the region. The EU is appalled by recurring rocket attacks from Gaza and condemns in the strongest terms violence deliberately targeting civilians. The EU also recalls its commitment towards Israel’s full integration into the region.
The viability of a two-state solution must be maintained. The EU expresses great concern about developments on the ground, which threaten to make a two-state solution impossible. These include the marked acceleration of settlement construction, as they remain illegal under international law, ongoing evictions and house demolitions in East-Jerusalem, the serious limitations on the Palestinian Authority to promote the development of Palestinian communities in Area C, and the PA’s current financial difficulties.
European Union foreign ministers at the Foreign Affairs Council in May expressed a clear and strong position on these issues, forging a common EU approach to developments on the ground. They reiterated that a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. The EU also recalled the applicability of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the applicability of the fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians.
On the humanitarian front the most pressing situation is in Gaza. The EU recalls that the situation in the Gaza Strip is unsustainable as long as it remains politically separated from the West Bank. While fully recognizing Israel’s legitimate security needs, the EU urges Israel to take further meaningful and far-reaching steps allowing for the reconstruction and recovery of the Gaza Strip. On this occasion the EU underlines its strong support for the work of all relevant United Nations agencies working across the occupied Palestinian territory, including UNRWA and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The EU continues to call for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind President Mahmoud Abbas, in line with the principles set out in his speech of 4 May 2011, as an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two state solution. The EU looks forward to the holding of elections as an important contribution to Palestinian state-building.
Thank you, Mr President.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.