Lisbon, 6 November 2007 - "The Euro-Mediterranean partners, EU Member States and southern Mediterranean countries must face up to the global issues on both sides of the Mediterranean. We are all concerned by the risks and international conflict potential, such as the crisis in the Middle East, the threat of terrorism, the challenges of climate change and disquiet about energy security. We urgently need answers, which can be found only if we work together. These vital future issues cannot be addressed by compartmentalising them but only through communication," said State Secretary Hans Winkler at the Conference of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers.
"Peace and security, stability and prosperity are dependent on three immutable conditions - dialogue, cooperation and partnership, and specific political strategies," said Winkler, who regards the current efforts to resume negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with a view to achieving a two-state solution as a central issue affecting the entire international community. "Every step in this direction will have our full support. The discussion by the Euro-Mediterranean partners, particularly the parties to the conflict, shows that all concerned are hoping that the planned Middle East conference in the USA will have a successful outcome," added the State Secretary.
In this context Winkler also stressed the need to involve Syria in a comprehensive peace settlement. "Experience has shown the importance of support within the region for a peaceful settlement to the Middle East situation. This is the only way of achieving the urgently needed improvements on the ground for Israelis and Palestinians in their daily life and the required discourse beyond the political horizon that we must show to the people in the region. There must be an end to the violence and military confrontations."
In recent years the EU has increasingly assumed responsibility in the region - from humanitarian aid programmes and various defence projects within the "partnership for peace" to support of the Palestine National Authority in capacity building, promotion of the Palestinian economy and securing the borders in Rafah. "The EU is also willing to make a contribution if the necessary progress towards a durable peace is achieved," said the State Secretary, pointing out that the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership was the only forum outside the United Nations of which the Arab countries and Israel were both members.
"For 12 years now the Barcelona process has provided the framework for relations and cooperation between the EU and the Mediterranean states. Austria has always attached great importance to this partnership and will continue to actively support it," said Winkler.
The Barcelona process offers a comprehensive framework for cooperation between the EU and the southern Mediterranean countries. Apart from the EU Member States, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey are all full members of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.
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