GCC-EU 13th Joint Council and Ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar

Summary

March 3, 2003: Joint Communiqué. GCC-EU 13th Joint Council and Ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar on 3 March 2003 (Brussels)

1. The thirteenth session of the Joint Council and Ministerial meeting between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council was held in Doha, Qatar on 3 March 2003. The GCC delegation was led by H.E. Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jaber Al Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar and President of the GCC Ministerial Council. The GCC Secretariat was represented by H.E. Abdulrahman Hamad Al Attiyah, Secretary General. The EU delegation was led by Mr Georgios Papandreou, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece and President of the Council of the European Union. The European Commission was represented by Mr Fernando Valenzuela, Deputy Director General. The EU Council Secretariat was represented by Deputy Director General, Mr Anastassios Vikas.

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 January in the Joint Cooperation Committee and for a Political Dialogue meeting respectively.

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6. Political questions of common interest

The GCC and the EU reviewed a series of international and regional political issues of mutual interest and had an exchange of views on developments in the two regions with a view to supporting and enhancing regional peace, security and stability, which remain key shared foreign policy objectives. The GCC and the EU reiterated their determination to further develop this political dialogue in order to seek common solutions to common problems facing them.

6.1. Regional issues

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6.1.2. The Middle East

The GCC and the EU stressed that peace in the Middle East is an imperative. They called upon the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to break the endless cycle of violence, which brings so much suffering to the civil population on both sides.

The GCC and the EU recognized Israel’s legitimate security concerns and Palestinian legitimate rights to a viable Palestinian state, living peacefully side by side with Israel and its neighbours, all within secure borders, and stressed their support to the Palestinian efforts to take forward the reform process.

Violence and confrontation must give way to negotiations and compromise. The international community, including the parties, shares a common vision of two States, Israel and an independent, viable, sovereign, and democratic Palestine, living side by side in peace and security on the basis of the 1967 borders. The GCC and the EU recalled that the aim of all efforts remains reaching a just, comprehensive and lasting peace settlement in the Middle East, including Syria and Lebanon, based on the relevant UNSC Resolutions, the principles of the Madrid Conference, the principle "land for peace", Oslo and subsequent agreements and taking into account of the initiative of His Highness Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, endorsed by the Arab League Summit in Beirut in 2002. The GCC and the EU recalled the importance of this initiative.

The GCC and the EU stressed the need to move ahead with the work which has been carried out in the framework of the Middle East Quartet. The roadmap endorsed at the meeting in Washington on 20 December 2002 by all four participants in the Quartet and which sets clear timelines for the establishment of a Palestinian State by 2005 must be implemented.

Both parties will have to meet their obligations. The implementation of the roadmap must be based on parallel progress in the security, political and economic fields and be closely monitored by the Quartet through an appropriate monitoring mechanism.

One of the key elements to success will be Palestinian reform. Conditions on the ground must be normalised so that free, fair and open elections can be held, as proposed in the roadmap. The EU and the GCC welcomed President Arafat's decision to appoint an interim Palestinian Prime Minister. Substantial efforts will have to be made concerning security.

The EU and the GCC therefore very much appreciated the Egyptian efforts regarding this crucial issue. Some progress is being made e.g. in the area of economic and financial reforms and the work on the new constitution has been carried forward speedily. But clear progress is needed in other areas too.

The GCC and the EU were alarmed at the continuing illegal settlement activities, which threaten to render the two-State solution physically impossible to implement. The expansion of settlements and related construction violates international law, inflames an already volatile situation, and reinforces the fear of Palestinians that Israel is not genuinely committed to ending the occupation. It is an obstacle to peace. The GCC and the EU urged the Government of Israel to reverse its settlement policy in accordance with international law and relevant UNSC resolutions and as a first step to immediately apply a full and effective freeze on all settlement activities. They called for an end to further land confiscation for the construction of the so-called security fence.

Decisive steps must be taken to reverse the sharply deteriorating humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza, which is making life increasingly intolerable for ordinary Palestinians and fuelling extremism. Humanitarian access and the security of humanitarian personnel and their installations must be guaranteed.

With the aim of supporting the reforms in the Palestinian territories, the EU and the GCC will continue their financial support to the Palestinian Authority with clear objectives and conditions. They call on other international donors to join this engagement also with a view to coherent efforts for reconstruction. Israel for its part must ensure the monthly transfers of Palestinian tax revenues.

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Document symbol: CL03-073EN
Document Type: Press Release
Document Sources: European Union (EU), Gulf Cooperation Council
Subject: Peace proposals and efforts
Publication Date: 03/03/2003