Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria and ECOWAS

Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at 30th Ordinary Session of the Arab League Summit

Tunis, 31 March 2019, 31/03/2019 - 17:00, UNIQUE ID: 190331_4
HR/VP speeches

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Merci beaucoup Monsieur le Président.
 
Chers amis,
C'est un honneur et un plaisir pour moi d'être parmi vous aujourd'hui en Tunisie – un pays voisin, frère et ami - et de m'adresser pour la troisième fois à votre Sommet [de la Ligue des Etats arabes]. Je tiens non seulement à remercier la Tunisie et le Secrétaire Général de la Ligue arabe [Ahmed Aboul Gheit] pour cette invitation, mais également vous tous pour la coopération de plus en plus étroite et solide que nous avons établie entre la Ligue arabe et l’Union européenne.
 
Ce fût pour moi une satisfaction personnelle d’organiser notre dernière réunion ministérielle à Bruxelles en février, et plus encore de contribuer à notre premier Sommet à Sharm El Sheikh le mois dernier, qui nous a permis de corriger une situation paradoxale: nous sommes si proches d’un point de vue géographique et culturel, et nous devons faire face à tant de défis communs, et nous avons tellement d’opportunités de travailler ensemble. Pourtant, nous n’avions jusqu’alors pas eu l'occasion de nous réunir au niveau des chefs d’Etat ou de Gouvernement.
 
Je suis convaincue que cette décision de porter la relation entre la Ligue arabe et l’Union européenne à un niveau supérieur nous est et sera profitable à tous, tant dans l’immédiat qu'à l’avenir, et contribuera à renforcer davantage notre coopération qui est vitale pour notre région.
 
The Summit we had showed that we may not agree on all the issues, we may have differences and we do have differences, but we share the same understanding: that it is only by investing in cooperation that we are serving our joint interests.
 
Our region has gone through decades of crises, conflicts and turmoils and today we are maybe at a crossroad between more violence, and the possibility of reconciliation. If you think of Syria, Yemen, Israel and Palestine, Libya – all crises that could evolve either way, depending on our individual and collective response.
 
Unfortunately, we witness a worrying trend in the world and right across our common region: the idea that seems to prevail is that might makes right. We are too often confronted with the politics of fait accompli or of the zero sum game. And yet we should all understand by now that a solution imposed by force is never a sustainable solution. And a solution that is not inclusive, is never a sustainable solution.
 
A divided and sectarian Syria is not a solution. Leaving the Palestinians without a state is not a solution. Ignoring UN Security Council Resolutions on the Golan Heights is not a solution. And let me be very clear: the European Union will continue to not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the territories occupied in 1967.
 
We have a duty to invest in real solutions, win-win solutions. So let me just focus on four concrete actions that we can and we should urgently take together, to prevent more violence and eventually take the path of peace and reconciliation all across our region.
 
And I would focus on four concrete priorities that bring us together on top of the good and intense work that we already do together with each and every of you bilaterally. I can mention the work we do from Iraq to Jordan, from Lebanon to Egypt, from Kuwait to Somalia, from Morocco to Tunisia. I could not skip even one of the countries sitting around this wonderful room with whom we do not have an intense partnership, be it on economy, on security, on peace, on the empowerment of women and youth and the list continues. And I want to thank you for that.
 
The first point, the first top issue on our respective agenda: Israel and Palestine. We need to continue to work together very closely, because we share the same sense of priority, the same sense of urgency, the same concerns and the same objectives: to get back to meaningful negotiations towards the two-state solution, which is the only viable, realistic solution.
 
In the meantime, we have a responsibility to prevent the two-state solution from being irreversibly dismantled. Any future plan will have to recognise the internationally agreed parameters, including on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps and the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of the two states. 
 
The work and the mandate of UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East]. The UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees is essential not only for the lives of millions of people, but also to preserving the viability of the two-state solution. We have to continue together to support the Agency also in the future, and to accompany it in its reforms.
 
And you know that you can count on the European Union on the Palestinian issue. We share exactly the same views and it is vital in this moment that we work together on this.
 
Second, on Syria: at the third Brussels Conference [supporting the future of Syria and the region] just a few weeks ago we gathered the region and the international community together with the United Nations to give our input to, first of all, the humanitarian pledges, which are vital, but also and most importantly to the political process and the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Because only a political solution can lead to a sovereign, united, inclusive, democratic and secure Syria and this is in the interest of us all. You know you can count on the European Union to engage in reconstruction of Syria when this political process will be underway under the UN leadership. 
 
Third, Yemen: I believe that together we have worked well to support the UN work to achieve  some initial results with and now I believe we need to continue to work together not only on the humanitarian support, but also to make sure that the Stockholm Agreement is translated into action and the war comes finally to an end.
 
And last but definitely not least, especially here in Tunisia – when I said that we are in what is for us a neighbouring country, we also share the priority for what is happening in our friendly and neighbouring Libya: the National Conference that will take place in Gagames in just a few weeks – I share the views of the UN Secretary General [António Guterres] - can represent a new beginning for the Libyans. It can bring the country together, lay out the foundations for permanent, unified institutions, and set the path towards credible elections.
 
Yesterday the European Union together with the Arab League, the UN and the African Union met here at principles’ level for the first time within the framework of the Libya Quartet, and we confirmed our full support to Special Representative Ghassan Salamé. We know that we have now a collective interest and the responsibility to support together a successful Libyan National Conference and to accompany the Libyan people as they turn the page.
 
And to close, let me add a fifth point that is not related to a specific conflict or crisis. It is an issue on which I believe it is crucial that Arabs and Europeans work together very closely: we need to preserve diversity in our societies. We need to prevent the rise of hate, starting with preventing Islamophobia in our societies. We need to work together to make sure that in all our countries, no one excluded in Europe as in the Arab world, everyone is accepted, protected and respected as a human being, whatever his or her background is, whatever religious belief, gender, age, identity. We value diversity and we believe that everyone needs to find his and her place in our societies. So we have a joint interest and a joint responsibility to nourish and preserve diversity and together with that the dignity of every single human being.
 
There is much wisdom in the Arab proverb that says, if I am not wrong, that “a tree begins with a seed”.  I believe that what we are doing together is planting the seeds for a more cooperative, peaceful regional dynamic.
 
Nous avons vécu une intensification de nos relations avec le premier Sommet entre la Ligue arabe et l’Union européenne. C’est donc le moment de continuer à travailler ensemble afin de semer les semences de la paix, du développement durable, de la protection des droits de l'homme, et d’œuvrer pour la construction de solutions réelles et soutenables qui nous permettront de faire face aux défis complexes des temps actuels. Vous savez que vous pouvez toujours compter sur l’Union européenne.
 
Shukran!