Middle East peace process – EU High Representative for the CFSP and PA President remarks at a joint briefing – EU press release/Non-UN document

Summary of remarks by Javier SOLANA,

EU High Representative for the CFSP,

and Mahmoud ABBAS, President of the Palestinian Authority,

at a joint press briefing

Brussels, 23 February 2007
The following is an edited summary of remarks to the press by Javier SOLANA, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and Mahmoud ABBAS, President of the Palestinian Authority, following their meeting in Brussels today.

HR Solana: "It is a great pleasure for me to receive President Abbas, not only in his quality as the President of the Palestinian people, but also as a very good friend for many years.

We are very happy that you are here at a very crucial moment, after the Quartet meeting, two days ago. I am very glad that we had the possibility to discuss the evolution of the decisions taken in the Quartet and the evolution of the formation of the government of national unity. And not only that, but also to see how we can put into movement what the President has called a political horizon, for the realization of the two-state solution. That is what we want to do and we want to do it rapidly.

Mahmoud Abbas is a good person, someone honest, someone who works hard for his people and who has all the friendship from the peoples and the countries and the leaders of the European Union. So to have him here is a great pleasure and I want to tell him that he will have the support of the European Union as he has had in the last period of time.

The European Union is not boycotting the Palestinian people. We said many times that we would never let down the Palestinian people and we have not done it. In the year 2006 we have spent on the Palestinian people more than in the year 2005. We have been paying allowances for over 150 000 families every month, that amounts to over 1 million people, that is to say 30 % of the Palestinian population. And we will continue to do that in the year 2007, even more if possible.

So we want the engagement between the European Union and the Palestinian people to be maintained and to be increased. And I hope very much that, with the leadership of President Abbas, the situation will evolve in a positive direction and that the dream of so many people in Palestine and many other places in the world, in particular in Europe, to see the realization of two states will come true. This is what the people of Palestine deserve and that we want President Abbas to lead. And for that he will have all the support of the European people.

President Abbas welcome! The floor is yours."

President Abbas (translated from Arabic): "I would like to express my deepest gratitude and thanks to our dear friend Javier Solana for his relentless efforts and commitment to help us and to help the cause of peace in his capacity in the European Union. We appreciate all the assistance that has been given to us by our friend Javier Solana.

Year after year, we have improved our relations with Mr Solana and it is obvious that his efforts are continuing in the direction of easing and alleviating the suffering of the Palestinian people and also to help the Palestinian people to achieve their political aspirations.

It is crucial for me, after the Mecca agreement, amid the formation of the national unity government and after the political developments happening recently to be here and to discuss all these issues with my friend Javier Solana.

I have also discussed with Mr Solana today the prospect for the political solution based on the two-state solution: a Palestinian State living side by side in peace with the State of Israel.

What I do here is important, what we do with the Europeans is important, what we do worldwide is important, but the most important thing is to give Palestinians and Israelis the hope – and to revive hope in their minds – that peace and stability is possible.

When we speak about our political prospects and about a political solution, allow me to reiterate our commitment to the principles that I will hold all along the way to achieve peace with Israel. We remain committed to the two-state solution, recognition of Israel, renouncing violence and terror, and reiterating our commitment to agreements signed and also to the Arab Peace Plan of 2002.

We did not change our positions, we did not change our principles, and that applies also to the Roadmap which is the term of reference of the Peace Process. "

Question: "Mr. Solana, you have said that the EU is not boycotting the Palestinian people. But is the EU boycotting the new national unity government and did you give any indication to President Abbas if and when the EU could start direct financial aid to the Palestinian Authority?"

HR Solana: "Let me say very clearly that we cannot boycott something that does not exist. The government has not been formed yet. Therefore, we wait – as the President does know very well – until the government of national unity is completely formed. The President has explained very clearly the three objectives that we want to obtain. These three objectives that he has mentioned, as you know, are the three objectives, the three points that we defend. Therefore we are absolutely on the same wavelength and we work for the same objectives. I am very happy to see that it is the President himself who mentioned the three elements that the new government should comply with."

Question (translated from French): "Mr Solana it seems that there is a slight change in the position of the Quartet towards the Palestinian Authority. Could such a change lead to a political and economic opening? "

HR Solana: "We have two possibilities: that the government of national unity will be part of the solution or that the government of national unity will be part of the problem. I hope very much from the bottom of my heart that this government will be part of the solution. For that, you know what the government has to have in sight. The President has expressed that very clearly. But as you can imagine, we very much welcome the idea of a unity government, that has created stability among the Palestinians, which is very important, very important. And we hope also that it will contribute to the motion towards the political horizon that the President has mentioned and that we share."

Question (translated from Arabic): "Will the recognition and the principles of the agreement signed be a problem between Fatah and Hammas? "

President Abbas' answer (as summed up by the interpreter): "The President answered by giving the journalist a copy of the letter of designation of Prime Ministrer Haniyeh in which he asks him to honour and respect the agreements signed, the international legality and the Arab legality."

Document symbol: S067/07
Document Type: Briefing, Press Release, Remarks
Document Sources: European Council, European Union (EU)
Subject: Palestine question, Peace process, Situation in the OPT including Jerusalem
Publication Date: 23/02/2007
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