14th EU-GCC JOINT COUNCIL AND MINISTERIAL MEETING
(Brussels, 17 May 2004)
1. The fourteenth session of the Joint Council established in accordance with the Co-operation Agreement between the European Community on the one hand, and the countries parties to the Charter of the Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Bahrain, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sultanate of Oman, State of Qatar and State of Kuwait) on the other hand, was held in Brussels on 17 May 2004.
The EU delegation was led by Mr. Brian Cowen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland and President of the Council of the European Union. The EU was also represented by its High Representative for Foreign and Security policy, Mr Javier Solana. The European Commission was represented by Commissioners Chris Patten and Pascal Lamy. The GCC delegation was led by H.E. Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait and President of the GCC Ministerial Council. The GCC Secretariat was represented by H.E. Abdulrahman Hamad Al-Attiyah, Secretary General.
2. The meeting took place in a friendly and constructive atmosphere. In preparation of this meeting, EU and GCC officials had met in Brussels on 28 and 29 April in the Joint Co operation Committee and for a Regional Political Directors’ meeting respectively.
3. The Joint Council welcomed the opening of the EC Delegation in Riyadh as a concrete step in the strengthening of relations between both sides. The two parties welcomed steps undertaken by the Commission for the accreditation of the Head of Delegation in Saudi Arabia to the other GCC countries. Having exchanged missions, they have thereby fulfilled an important prerequisite for the further development of their friendly ties. They also expressed their satisfaction for the recent accreditation of the Bahrain Ambassador to the EC.
6.1 Regional issues
6.1.1. Developments in the Middle East
The EU and the GCC expressed their deep concern at the situation in the Middle East and the deepening of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They urged an end to violence and to terrorism in all its forms as well as the resumption of a cease-fire embracing all parties and groups, and called on both sides to resume negotiations on the peace process without further delay. They stated that a just, lasting and comprehensive peace must meet the legitimate aspirations of both the Israeli and Palestinian people and must include Lebanon and Syria. They also called on all States in the region to exert every effort to promote peace and to combat terrorism in all its forms.
The EU and the GCC reaffirmed their commitment to a negotiated two-State solution agreed between the parties which would result in a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State existing side by side in peace with an Israel living within recognized and secure borders. They also reaffirmed their belief that the Quartet Roadmap, endorsed by UNSCR 1515, represented the only route to achieving such an outcome, and called on both sides to fulfil their obligations under the Roadmap. They noted with appreciation the statement issued by the Quartet after its meeting in New York on 4 May 2004.
The EU and the GCC expressed their shared position that they would not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties and that no declared views on the possible shape of a final settlement could pre-empt the negotiation of that settlement. They also noted that the refugee question and the manner in which the right of return may be realized was also a Final Status issue and that the Roadmap stated that a final and comprehensive permanent status agreement that ended the Israeli- Palestinian conflict must include an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to this question.
They agreed that Final Status issues were a matter for negotiation and agreement between the two parties themselves and must not be prejudged. They furthermore concurred that secure and recognized borders should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515. These and other relevant Security Council Resolutions must form the basis for a just and lasting settlement of the conflict.
The EU and the GCC recalled and reiterated their support for the constructive initiative of His Highness Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, endorsed by the Arab League Summit in Beirut in 2002. they expressed the hope that the Beirut Initiative would be re-launched at the forthcoming Arab League Summit in Tunis on 22 May 2004.
The EU and the GCC took note of the prospect of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. They agreed that a full Israeli withdrawal and complete end of occupation of Gaza could represent a step towards the implementation of the Roadmap provided that it takes place in the context of the Roadmap, that it is a step towards a two state solution, that it does not involve a transfer of settlement activity to the West Bank, that there is an organised and negotiated handover of responsibility to the Palestinian Authority, and that Israel facilitates rehabilitation and reconstruction in Gaza. The proposed withdrawal should be properly orchestrated with the international community so as to ensure that an orderly situation in Gaza results, which would permit the maintenance of security as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction.
A key issue remains Palestinian reform, particularly in the area of security as well as in the fields of economy and finance. The EU and the GCC called on the Palestinian Authority to address the issue of security and tackle the challenge of terrorism and welcomed its announcement of plans for improving Palestinian security performance, stressing the need for full and proper implementation. The EU and the GCC noted with concern the grievous humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian territories which in the end is only fuelling extremism and called on the Israeli Government to take action to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Palestinians by lifting prohibitions on movement, reversing its settlement policy and reversing the construction of the so-called security fence in the Palestinian territories, including in and around East Jerusalem. With the aim of supporting the reforms in the Palestinian territories The EU and the GCC expressed the intention to continue their financial support to the Palestinian Authority with clear objectives and conditions. In this context, they welcomed the launch by the World Bank of the Public Financial Management Trust Fund. They also called on other international donors to join this engagement with a view to ensuring coherent reconstruction efforts. The EU and the GCC called on the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to summon the political will necessary to overcome the current impasse in the peace process because it is only through peace and reconciliation that they will realize their full potential.
6.1.2. Developments in relation to “An EU Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East” The EU and the GCC took the opportunity to review developments in relation to the interim report on an “EU Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East”, which was prepared by the EU Presidency, Commission and Council Secretariat earlier this year and welcomed by the European Council in March 2004. It was noted that the purpose of this interim report was to give an overview of discussions to date within the EU on the strategic partnership, to present an analysis of the EU’s current engagement with the countries concerned, and to suggest core elements for a strategic partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The EU and the GCC welcomed the importance attached to consultation with the regional partners in the current period,. They looked forward to further contact in the period ahead and also looked forward to exploring the potential which might be offered by the Strategic Partnership for strengthening relations between the European Union and GCC.
In the context of relations with the Mediterranean and the Middle East countries, the EU also briefed the GCC on the setting up of the Euro-Mediterranean Investment Facility and Partnership (FEMIP), noting its usefulness as a channel for investments aimed at enhancing the prosperity of the Mediterranean partners.
The EU and the GCC expressed deep concern about the ongoing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, biological and chemical, and their means of delivery, considering it to be one of the most serious threats to peace, security and development. They reaffirmed their determination to support all efforts to stem the proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery, by both State and non-State actors, and in that context welcomed the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1540, and to establish an effectively verifiable zone free of weapons of mass destruction, in the Middle East including the Gulf Region.
In this context, they underlined the importance of compliance with and implementation of existing disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements and other relevant international obligations. Both sides attached importance to the universalisation of international instruments against the proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery through signature, accession or ratification, as appropriate, of all relevant instruments. In this respect, they called upon all countries not yet party to relevant treaties, including the Non Proliferation treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Conventions on biological and chemical weapons, to sign and ratify them as soon as possible. Furthermore they encouraged all states in the Middle East that have not yet done so to subscribe to the Hague Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation and to conclude and bring into force Additional protocols with the IAEA.
The EU and the GCC also called on all countries in the Middle East to establish effective systems of national export and transit controls of WMD-related goods and technologies, including end-use controls.
7. It was agreed that the 15 meeting of the Joint Council would be held in the United Arab Emirates in 2005.