Outcome of the European Council and progress report on the Intergovernmental Conference (Brussels, 16-17 October 2003)

Mr President, I would like, very briefly, to say something about the President-in-Office of the Council´s statements on foreign policy and also on the outcome from the Council. One could hardly expect the Council to do other than give attention to the situation in the Middle East and lament the way in which this has deteriorated, which it has done, also calling on both sides to renounce violence and enjoining a policy of moderation upon them. Today, Mr President of the Council, I would like to call upon you to do everything you possibly can, whether through official or unofficial channels, to give real support to all the peace initiatives, whether they be Palestinian or Israeli in origin.
Among other things, I am referring here to what are termed the Geneva Accords, a splendid initiative by people who really have been involved for years with the whole complex process. Let me make an exception here, and quote from an author – Amos Oz, an Israel writer who has this to say in a commentary on these Geneva Accords: `Ever since the Six Day War, we are as close to the Palestinians as a jailer is to the prisoner handcuffed to him. A jailer cuffing his wrist to that of a prisoner for an hour or two is a matter of routine. A jailer though who cuffs himself to his prisoner for thirty-six long years is himself no longer a free man. The occupation has also robbed us of freedom.´ These words, I think, clearly express the need for the European Union, too, to contribute something towards putting a stop to this state of non-freedom, which this situation has caused to prevail in Israel itself, and the fact that the Geneva Accords provide us with a good example.
The last few days, though, have also shown that the conflict in Palestine and the situation in Iraq are even more closely connected than we, in this House, had repeatedly claimed them to be. Although, Mr President of the Council, there is at present rejoicing at the unanimous adoption of the United Nations resolution, we must not abandon the objectives that this House has always pursued in relation to Iraq policy: a strong role for the United Nations and a progressive but speedy and clearly-defined transfer of power from the Americans, from the armed forces, to the Iraqis. Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people, and it must be made apparent, unambiguously and relatively quickly, that the European Union wants to implement this principle and put it into practice.
I am not very happy about the way in which the agreement with Iran came about. I would have preferred it if it had been reached by Mr Frattini, the President of the Foreign Affairs Council, in tandem with Mr Solana, the High Representative. We should, though, be glad that the three European foreign ministers have managed to come to an agreement with Iran. Agreements can be reached without war, they can be reached by peaceful means, they can be reached by negotiating with countries that put up resistance, and we should rejoice that this important agreement with Iran now appears to have been concluded.