Sumario: Summary of EUHR Solana's address to EU Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee (4 October 2006: Brussels)
The following is a summary of the remarks made by Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on 4 October 2006:
I am very pleased to be here with you again at this very important and exceptionally busy time. We are facing a huge number of complex international challenges and the EU is more active than ever.
We are heeding the call for action from our citizens and from our international partners. There is hardly a crisis in the world where the EU is not playing an active role.
I spent the greatest part of the summer working on the problem in Lebanon. The EU played a very important role in the work of the UN Security Council. Europe can be proud of what it achieved. We were central to the efforts behind the cessation of violence. Five of the members of the Security Council were EU Member States - two of them permanent members and three non-permanent - and they worked very well. The resolution adopted by the UN Security Council contained most of the elements the Europeans wanted, in particular Prime Minister Siniora's seven points. When Resolution 1701 was adopted in New York during the night of 11 to 12 August, I was in Lebanon with Mr Siniora. Only a few days after that, on 25 August, the EU Foreign Ministers met in Brussels and took the decision to deploy forces to implement Resolution 1701 and reinforce the UN force in Lebanon, UNIFIL. Europeans are providing the backbone of the expanded UNIFIL force. Without the rapid reaction of the EU, the resolution would not have been implemented. And - still in August - the EU held a donors conference in Sweden on 31 August to raise money for the reconstruction of Lebanon.
We will continue our commitment and involvement and I hope very much that the reconstruction of Lebanon can happen swiftly.
The EU acted when action was needed - both in New York and in Lebanon. We are committed to supporting Prime Minister Siniora, who represents the legitimate government of Lebanon. We will continue to support Mr Siniora and the people of Lebanon. Everything that Prime Minister Siniora asks for, we must deliver, we must give as much as we can and in every way that we can, whether it is help with reconstruction or with security.
Above all, we want to make a reality of Mr Siniora's vision of building a real Lebanese state, not just a collection of communities and militias.
There have been dramatic developments over the past few days. The situation in Gaza and in the West Bank is explosive. Violent armed clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas last Sunday.
Several people have been killed. One Hamas leader was killed today by Palestinians in the West Bank.
Efforts to calm the situation are continuing, by various parties - including parties in the region and us - to consolidate the calm. The potential for further deterioration of the situation still exists in spite of the efforts exerted.
Qatar yesterday proposed a six-point plan aimed at reducing the tension. It proposes a new government with a different prime minister. This will probably not fly but it is a good attempt from an active Arab country.
President Abbas is expected to take decisive decisions to overcome the current crisis. There has been no agreement so far between him and Hamas on the formation of a unity government. But there is serious talk of a unity government formed of qualified nationals. If this is not possible, there is the possibility that President Abbas will call early elections. I think this would complicate things.
The Quartet met the week before last in New York and it issued a good, clear statement, welcomed by the parties, using European language, welcoming the Palestinian efforts to form a government of national unity. Let us hope that, from now on, the Quartet can play a more active role. We must give momentum to the efforts to make Israel-Palestine conflict the centre of gravity because if this is not solved the rest of the conflicts in the Middle East cannot be solved.
I intend to go myself to the Middle East soon, after my two trips to Lebanon during the summer conflict.
The EU has been helping Palestine both politically and economically. Without external political and economic support, the situation in the Palestinian Territories may deteriorate beyond recovery.
So far this year the EU'sh support for the Palestinians already exceeds the total amount for 2005 despite Hamas' ascent to power. But we should do more. We are determined to do more.
The Rafah crossing point, on the border between Palestine and Egypt, has been closed for most of the time since the abduction of the Israeli soldier. We have tried very hard to have it open at least for a few hours in the day. We are also looking at the possibility of setting up a similar operation to the EUBAM Rafah mission on the border between Palestine and Israel.
I am extremely concerned about the situation on the ground. The Darfur Peace Agreement is under threat.
It was an achievement that the Abuja talks were held and that the peace agreement was reached. But only one rebel group signed the agreement. We want the two rebel groups who did not sign the agreement to sign it.
Both the Sudanese government and the rebels are violating the ceasefire. Access for humanitarian aid is becoming more and more difficult.
As you know, the African Union has decided to keep AMIS (the African Union mission in Sudan) there until December. We would have preferred a transition to a UN force but President Bashir of Sudan does not agree. We are therefore in an impasse. We have to put pressure on the government in Khartoum.
This is one of the most dramatic situations and there is the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe.
We have a responsibility to provide protection and we must do so. I appeal to all of you to take this problem very seriously.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The DRC is now preparing for a second round of elections, in October.
The role of the EU force, EUFOR, in keeping the peace during the electoral period, in cooperation with the UN mission MONUC, is extremely positive and its excellent conduct has been recognised by everyone. EUFOR has been a great success and its cooperation with MONUC has been extremely successful.
EUFOR intervened very effectively to defuse an incident between the supporters of President Kabila and Vice-President Bemba (candidates in the presidential elections) on 21 August. The situation is now much better. I hope that the second round of elections will produce a clear result and that the DRC will be able to move to the final stage of its transition to democracy. The stabilisation of this country will have a very big impact on the whole region and indeed the African continent.
For four months now I have been maintaining a dialogue with the Iranian authorities, in particular with Dr Ali Larijani, head of the Supreme Council for National Security of Iran, on the Iranian nuclear programme.
The process started in early June when I travelled to Tehran to submit a proposal made by the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany. No need to highlight the importance for the EU that China, Russia and the United States tasked me with that mission.
The aim of the dialogue is to clarify whether a negotiation between these six countries and Iran could start on the basis of the proposal submitted.
The problem with Iran is essentially a problem of confidence. For many years Iran, a signatory to the NPT, carried out nuclear activities with a total lack of transparency. This is a legitimate source of concern for the international community as recognised by the Iranian themselves.
The essence of the proposal, which was a generous offer, was: