Your Majesty King Abdullah II Iben Hussein, Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Leaders of the Arab States, and Your Excellency the Secretary General [of the League of Arab States], I thank you for inviting me to be among you today.
It is extremely important for me to have the honour to address this extremely important summit today. Our common region is going through years of suffering. Peace and reconciliation can only come through a truly collective and cooperative approach.
No regional or global power, alone, holds the key to stabilising the Middle East or North Africa. Peace in our region – and I stress our region – requires everyone’s constructive contribution. It requires cooperation between Europe and the Arab world, within the Arab world and within the broader region. This is true now more than ever. As His Majesty, King Abdullah of Jordan recently said: “We need to open up new channels between continents and nations; within countries and among people.”
So I am glad that in our Joint Ministerial meeting in Cairo, last December, we all committed to strong dialogue and practical collaboration. Let me just mention some of the key issues where our cooperation is essential, vital.
I would like to start from a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. This is and will continue to be a top priority for the European Union. A peaceful solution of this conflict, or even progress in that direction, could set a whole new paradigm for cooperation in the region, including on security. We firmly believe that the two-State solution remains the only realistic way to end the conflict and all claims. We would recognise changes to the 1967 borders only when agreed by the parties, including with regard to Jerusalem.
I discussed this with [the Palestinian] President, [Mahmoud] Abbas just days ago in Brussels. We will continue to work for the unity of the entire international community to this aim, including with our American friends, as we have started to do in these days. We also believe that the Arab Peace Initiative is as relevant as ever – probably even more than ever – and has a central role to play. If translated into concrete action, it can provide the regional framework for peace.
And the region truly needs peace, as we enter the seventh year of war in Syria. Next week, the European Union will co-host in Brussels the international conference on “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region”. We aim at building on the achievements of the London conference to support Syrians and their host countries. But we also seek to strengthen the international and collective support for the UN-mediated talks in Geneva. And we want to start planning for the day when a credible political transition will be firmly underway. We will need a major collective effort to engage in reconstruction but this will be possible only once a credible political solution is agreed in Geneva. Our commitment to reconstruction can provide a very powerful leverage, to facilitate the talks, end the war and give hope.
Turning to Iraq, it is proving that the fight against Da’esh can be won and stability can be restored. Reconciliation and the re-establishment of trust in the State institutions and the reconstruction of the liberated areas are crucial to the future of Iraq, of the entire region and to the security of us all. This is why the European Union will continue to support our Iraqi friends with all necessary means.
The European Union is also determined to increase our work for Yemen and work with all of you to contribute to a political solution of this crisis and to end the humanitarian suffering.
One final but very important word on Libya, where our cooperation and coordination is essential. Solving the current political crisis within the framework of the Libyan political agreement is first of all a Libyan responsibility. But we need to recognise that together, as the international community, as the region, we can accompany our Libyan friends in a more effective manner, joining our forces. And this is why the European Union joined the new Quartet for Libya together with the Arab League, the African Union and the United Nations. We had our first constructive meeting in Cairo a few weeks ago, and I will be honoured to host the next Quartet meeting for Libya in Brussels.
This is our common region. We respect the freedom and independence of each country, and at the same time we all share a responsibility to contribute to peace, together.
The European Union will keep doing its part: today, as we are still 28 [Member States]; tomorrow; and in the future after the exit of the United Kingdom at 27, with all our determination and our strength as the first humanitarian donor and actor, as a diplomatic power, as a security provider, as a force for sustainable peace and development – a force for respectful cooperation. We will continue to be the reliable, predictable and strong partner you have always known us as, for all of you and for your people, starting from the young people and the women of your societies.
In times of uncertainty we need to work together even more than ever. The European Union is ready to strengthen our friendship and our partnership to build peace, guarantee security, foster economic, social and technological development. We are ready to work together.
*Federica Mogherini is the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission
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