Wien, 5. May 2004 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner welcomes communiqué of Middle East Quartet

05.05.2004

"Final settlements require mutual agreement of both parties to the conflict"

Vienna, 5 May 2004 - In the lead-up to the Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) beginning in Dublin this evening, Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner today welcomed the latest communiqué issued by the Middle East Quartet. "The meeting of the Middle East Quartet in New York demonstrates our unanimous position within the EU with regard to the further approach to be taken in the Middle East. Especially important in this context is the fact that the Quartet has reaffirmed the necessity of implementing the roadmap, which was already confirmed by the UN Security Council at the end of last year as the way to a peace settlement in the Middle East. Any Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which is the announced intention of the Israeli government, must also be consistent with the roadmap", said Ferrero-Waldner.

"I fully agree that this plan marks a rare moment of opportunity in the search for peace in the Middle East. However, in my opinion any final settlements in any case require the mutual agreement of both parties to the conflict. It is therefore imperative that any further initiatives by Israel are undertaken in a manner consistent with the roadmap", continued the Foreign Minister, citing the following concrete points: land evacuated by Israel must be transferred to the Palestinian Authority as quickly as possible and in an orderly manner, and at the same time - as called for by the Quartet - the Palestinian leadership must take immediate and effective action to prevent extremist attacks against Israel.

Ferrero-Waldner added that this latest meeting of the Quartet had again placed the spotlight on important aspects of the EU Middle East policy, which also correspond to the basic principles of Austria's own policy towards the Middle East. "As we see it, the roadmap continues to set the right course for a two-state solution in the Middle East. The members of the Quartet have adopted this plan. And there is no other solution to this conflict", concluded Ferrero-Waldner.