18 March, 2003
On Iraq well the UN has been united in purpose of the implementation of 1441 and the disarmament of Iraq. We regret that the UN has been divided on the way forward and in particular we also have worked hard as a Presidency in the EU to create a common framework of positions. We also regret that on this way forward the member states had different views and I think that it is very important what we stressed that the UN was and must be in all further developments at the central stage in the Iraqi issue. The paramount concerns we have, and we will discuss them of course in the next few days, the plight of the Iraqi people, the territorial integrity of Iraq and the stability of the region obviously in the largest picture of the Middle East process and our candidate country Turkey, are important to be seen in this light. And even in the last hour let me say that we have a mandate: to exhaust all the diplomatic and peaceful efforts to a solution of this crisis. We are in close contact with all involved, all our partners of course, the Arab world, the permanent members of the Security Council, Canada, Australia, and we will be doing everything we can. In this respect on all these issues. Finally we’ll discuss Iraq this evening amongst our partners and the Presidency will do everything to find a unified way forward, whatever developments may occur.
We have and we will continue, to whatever last moment there will be, to search for a possible peaceful resolution to the crisis and I did say we are in constant contact with all partners and possible players. That is one first and immediate priority. Secondly, there are number of priorities that are there. Out of this crisis the EU faces up to a real challenge it has. And the real challenge is to develop a CFSP, which can give a very strong voice to the EU and a very unified voice to the EU. This is something which of course is debated in the Convention and of course in the IGC. We now have a very strong political will of our citizens to support this process. Therefore this is a major priority for us during the remaining months of our Presidency and of the next Presidencies. Secondly, in our transatlantic relation, we need to highlight the issues on which we have created a debate, and there are many of them, and engaged in a real dialogue and discussion about the future of our world. Global governance, and on what values and what practices and what institutions these goals and this governance will take place. And this is a priority leading up to our Summit Meeting with President Bush in June.
Thirdly, the Arab and the Muslim world, we all are in very close and systematic contacts during the past weeks, and have already chartered a number of initiatives, meetings and dialogues, and only the wider dialogue of civilizations on specific issues such as the role of the women, etc. But I would say also in the immediate political issues on the Iraqi crisis, whatever the outcome of the Middle East peace process will be, we will be in close contacts with our Arab friends and of course with the Muslim world. I think that what we have been doing as Presidency is in fact highlighting this is not a clash of civilizations but in fact is a common effort to work for peace, cooperation and stability in the region. I want to say one more point: The Lisbon process is a high priority for us. The Council will take place, as is planned, there are very important issues for the European economy that will be discussed. The work which has been done, leading up to this Council is very important and we hope that this will be also very important for the future of the European economy. Our message is Europe is moving forward. There are maybe crises, there are maybe problems, there are maybe issues dividing us, but there is very much uniting us. As a Presidency we will be moving the Union forward, and that is the mandate that all 15 agree with".