Amman, 10 June 2018
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Thank you, thank you very much. It is a really a pleasure for me and my delegation to be back to Amman, to Jordan. I have always visited the country very regularly and it is always very important and always a pleasure to have the opportunity to check where we are on the files that we are working on together and to determine the way forward. This time makes no exception, so I would like to thank you personally and His Majesty [King Abdullah II of Jordan] for the honour of being received by him and the pleasure of our conversation and our common work.
The message the European Union is bringing to Jordan and to the Jordanian people – all of them – is one of a strong partnership between the European Union and Jordan and a message of full support to all Jordanians and to Jordan as a country.
I would maybe start from our support to Jordan. Jordan is a country that has a vital role to play in the region, a country that plays its role with a wisdom and a balance that are unique and that we value enormously and that we want to support with all possible means at our disposal, including economic and financial means.
We always discuss mainly regional issues and the common challenges we face in the region, but maybe it is worth for once to mention that the European Union's support to Jordan is also a convinced one of the Jordanian internal, domestic work, especially in the economic field.
The European Union has been working together with Jordan on projects in different fields in the last two years and a half – if you take 2016, 2017 and 2018 – for an amount of €1 billion in total, covering, in particular, the fields of water, energy, environment, humanitarian aid, mainly addressing the needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan, but also, as you said, the Jordanians that are hosting the Syrian refugees in difficult circumstances. In addition, fields of action and programmes on education and vocational training - I will have the pleasure to participate in a graduation ceremony for both Jordanian and Syrian students at the German Jordan University just after this press conference - and also the support to the private sector and to social projects to address the needs of the Jordanians that are most vulnerable.
Today I had the pleasure in that framework of bringing a financial agreement of €20 million that address, in particular, the needs of Jordanians who are particularly vulnerable, so social protection projects that will be funded by these €20 million the European Union has agreed to.
This is only one part of our support to Jordan. You mentioned, rightly so, the work that we are doing to have a revision of the Rules of Origin. I would expect a decision in this respect in the coming weeks. That will increase the access of Jordanian goods to European markets. We know how important this is for the Jordanian economy and, especially, to support the private sector in Jordan.
And as part of the €1 billion in these last three years, including this one, we have a second tranche of our micro-financial assistance that is on our side ready to be disbursed: €100 million that are linked to the economic and fiscal reforms. I would not go into the content of that, as I know this is an issue that is politically debated currently in Jordan. Our approach is that it is up to the Jordanian authorities and people to determine the best way to move forward on that.
The European experience - and I come from a country that has some relevant experience - is that it is important to find a sustainable, equitable way to address fiscal and economic reforms. Again, it is up to the Jordanian authorities and people to find the best way to reform. You will always have the European Union at your side, fully supporting your reform work. But again, a tax system that, in particular, is addressing the issue of tax evasion and tax avoidance, we see in our experience is key to the equity and the sustainability of the fiscal and economic framework of the country. It is up to the Jordanian people and authorities and, in particular, the upcoming government to find their own way to address these issues. You will have our full support all along the way, every single step that the Jordanian people will decide to take.
This is in the field of the support that is strong, determined and will continue. We aim at keeping the same level of commitment and support for Jordan as we have had in these years. Moving to the partnership, which is as solid as the support we are committed to give - and we are giving, a very concrete one - Jordan is probably the most like-minded, the most natural partner we have in addressing a series of issues that are a top priority for both of us.
I will start from Jerusalem. I would like to thank His Majesty and his role and the role of Jordan as custodian of the Holy Sites. This is a key issue and a key priority not only for Jordan, not only for the Arab world, it is a key issue also for Europe and for all Europeans. As we have, as you know, in Europe Christians, Muslims, and Jews, for us the nature of Jerusalem and its future is of crucial importance. You know our position is that we would like to see Jerusalem as the capital, both of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine. We believe the only realistic solution for the conflict in the Middle East is a two-state solution.
We continue to work for that and we always shared the same approach in this respect, as well as we continue to work to make sure that UNRWA [The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] gets the funding it needs. The European Union and its Member States are by far the largest donors for UNRWA. We continue and we count to continue to be so. In the meantime, we are encouraging the rest of the international community to increase their contributions, or at least not to decrease the contributions to UNRWA. We know this is particularly important both in the field of health and education.
Let me stress also the excellent cooperation we have on Syria, where we share the same approach. A political solution is needed under the UN auspices, with the UN Security Council resolutions as a framework, as a parameter for advancing these negotiations. We are worried for the state of play on the ground - extremely worried - and we have all the interest in supporting the work, especially to maintain the de-escalation zone in the south, also for the stability and the security of Jordan and the Jordanian people.
Let me also mention that on Syria we hosted a few weeks ago the Second Brussels Conference, not only to support the political perspective of an agreement, but also to mobilise the continued international humanitarian aid for Syrians, both inside Syria and in the neighbouring countries. The European Union is determined to continue to mobilise humanitarian aid. We not only pledge our financial support for that, but we also deliver our pledges. And we are constantly encouraging the rest of the international community to not forget that the Syrian war is ongoing, that the Syrian refugees are still refugees, and that the international community cannot afford having any distraction on this file. We need to keep a high level of support to this work.
And last but not least, let me mention how much we value in the European Union the Jordanian role and the Jordanian approach to the work on prevention and countering of radicalisation. We share one hundred percent the approach that Jordan has put in place and the vision of an Islam that is open and is, I would say, strong enough - because you need strength to be open - to meet the rest of the world and work hand in hand with other religions and the rest of the international community towards understanding, respect and peace and cooperation.
So let me thank you, very much also personally, for the excellent cooperation we have established and we keep over these difficult years and months. And let me reassure you on the fact that the strong partnership with the European Union and the strong support from the European Union will continue in the coming months and years.
Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I156596