01 March, 2003
"War is not inevitable," the President of the EU Council, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou stressed at the Arab League summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on Saturday (1 March).
Papandreou reiterated the need for Saddam Hussein's full compliance with UN Security Council resolution 1441 and expressed support for the initiatives of the Arab world aimed at a peaceful resolution of the Iraq crisis, with their sending a clear message to Baghdad.
Addressing the 22-nation Arab League, Papandreou restated the joint decision of the 15 EU Member States of 17 February, which was endorsed by the ten acceding and 3 candidate countries, noting however that he could not be certain the EU would have a common stance in the event of unilateral military action. Conveying the climate during his recent visit to the United States, he emphasised the need for Iraq to disarm, saying that otherwise "war will be certain".
In his speech at the Arab League summit, Papandreou reiterated that the settlement of the Palestinian problem was a standing priority for the EU.
"The occupation of Palestinian lands must stop," he said, underlining the need to implement the 'road map' for peace in the Middle East.
On the issue of European-Arab relations, Papandreou expressed support for close cooperation between the two sides through the assumption of joint initiatives. He stressed that the EU wanted the Arabs to have "a strong and united voice".
On the sidelines of the summit, Papandreou had private talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi, King Mohamed VI of Morocco and Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri.