Written Answers. - Official Engagements.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

68 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on his discussions with other EU Foreign Ministers during the Seville EU summit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14822/02]

At the European Council in Seville, Foreign Ministers discussed the situation in the Middle East and the tensions between India and Pakistan and the European Council adopted declarations on both issues following the discussions. The declaration on the Middle East called for the implementation of the proposal to hold an international conference to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Along with our EU partners, Ireland supports an early convening of the conference, which should address political and economic aspects as well as matters relating to security. It should confirm the parameters of a political solution on a realistic and well-defined timescale and it should have wide regional involvement and appropriate participation by all the major actors.

The declaration on the Middle East stressed the need for urgent action by the international community to address the political, security and economic aspects of the crisis there. It con demned all terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and said that the fight against terrorism must be accompanied by negotiation of a political solution. The objective is an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders, with minor adjustments. The result should be two states living side by side within secure and recognised borders enjoying normal relations with their neighbours. Fair solutions will have to be found to the issues of Jerusalem and refugees. The declaration supports reform of the Palestinian Authority and calls for an end to military operations and restrictions on movement in the Occupied Territories. It pointed out that walls will not bring peace and it renewed the EU's commitment to work with all concerned to pursue opportunities to bring peace to the region. It reiterated the commitment to contribute fully to building peace and to reconstructing the Palestinian economy as an integral part of regional development. Ireland is committed to contributing more than €5 million this year to the Palestinian people and the EU remains a principal contributor to the Palestinian economy.
The Seville European Council declaration on India and Pakistan is a strong message of concern that the situation remains precarious and that the consequences of war could be devastating for the region and beyond. With the full support of the Government, the Seville Council called on Pakistan to take further concrete action in accordance with the assurances it has already given and with its international obligations, including UN Security Council Resolution 1373, to stop infiltration across the line of control and to prevent terrorist groups from operating from territory under its control, also through closing of training camps. The European Council called on India and Pakistan to establish an effective monitoring system, in a form acceptable to both, to stop infiltration. The Council urged India to be ready to respond with further de-escalatory steps as Pakistan shows it is acting to fulfil its commitments. The importance of free, fair and inclusive elections this autumn in Jammu and Kashmir was noted and both parties were called on to adhere to the non-proliferation treaty and to sign and ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty. The Council further confirmed the EU's commitment to work with India and Pakistan and with others in the international community, seeking possible confidence building measures to defuse the immediate crisis and to continue to encourage both countries to achieve a lasting settlement of their differences through bilateral dialogue.