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Brussels, 7 ctober 2012
Written Statement by President Barroso after his meeting with H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan
Amman, 7 October 2012. I want to thank His Majesty King Abdullah II for his warm welcome today. I promised to visit Jordan the last time we met in Brussels and I kept my word! In fact, it is always a pleasure to visit a trusted partner and friend and to witness personally the changes that are taking place in the country.
My visit here today is also an expression of the high value that the European Commission and I attach to relations with Jordan – a very important partner for the EU, a key regional actor and interlocutor in the Middle East. Furthermore, we both share the overarching objective of promoting peace, stability and prosperity.
And indeed, the relations between Jordan and the European Union have come a long way since we celebrated our Association Agreement ten years ago, and I believe that they will be further strengthened in the years to come.
Our partnership has been upgraded to an “advanced status,” our cooperation is deepening and expanding to several areas of common interest and the preparatory process for the launch of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) negotiations has already started. So, we are on good track!
Today, we had a very open and rich exchange of ideas during our meeting and working lunch.
We reviewed the progress made in recent months in Jordan’s reform process. Once more, I had the opportunity to convey to His Majesty our firm support and encouragement to pursue with the reforms that will make democracy, the justice system and the rule of law stronger in Jordan.
And the key to make these reforms successful is to build an inclusive, participatory, and open political system where all Jordanians feel represented. In this respect, the recent dissolution of the Parliament will allow for early parliamentary elections which should be inclusive and broad based. I am pleased to inform that the EU is ready to deploy a full fledged EU observation mission.
The European Union is fully behind Jordan's political, economic and social reforms and our financial assistance to the country is a clear expression of that. To this end the EU has already allocated €220 million for the period 2011-2013 and has recently assigned an additional €70 million from our SPRING (Support for Partnership, Reform and Inclusive Growth) programme.
We have also organised last February the first EU-Jordan Task Force, which brought together the EU institutions, EU Member States and International Financial institutions to assist the Jordanian authorities in delivering reforms, growth and development.
Today we witnessed the signature of a financing agreement for the 'Good Governance and Development Contract' worth €40 million. This should be seen as a further sign of support and encouragement to the continuation of the political reform process. And I know how dedicated His Majesty is to this reform process too.
This morning I had the opportunity to visit the Za'atari refugee camp. This camp is a stark reminder of the heavy consequences of the on-going conflict in Syria. The international community needs to urgently find a political solution to this conflict, and all members of the UN Security Council must assume their responsibilities.
We have seen in the last few days that the existing state of affairs is not an option. The tragic spill-over effects of the Syrian crisis to neighbouring countries could further escalate, compromising regional security. The priority is to stop the killings in Syria, end oppression and support a peaceful transition. In this context, we fully support the efforts of the UN-LAS Joint Special Representative.
As I saw today in Za'atari, the humanitarian situation resulting from the crisis is dire and we commend Jordan for its solidarity towards the Syrian population that has fled the country seeking refuge. But we also know that this gesture comes at an economic and social cost for Jordan. With the agreement signed this morning we have committed so far €16.8 million to support the Jordanian authorities in facing this crisis. I express my deepest appreciation for the exceptional efforts of Jordan in providing shelter to Syrian refugees.
Today, during my visit to the Za'atari camp, we also increased our financial contribution for the education of refugee children by €4.6 million bringing our support through UNICEF to a total of €10 million. So, we are totally committed to alleviate the suffering of those that are more vulnerable.
In our discussions, I also commended His Majesty's and Jordan’s efforts in moving forward with the Middle East Peace Process. We fully support Jordan’s engagement and we encourage its role in facilitating contacts between the parties to find a negotiated solution.
I would like to thank His Majesty for welcoming me here today, for his friendship and for his dedication to Jordan-EU relations. Winds of change are sweeping through this region and I commend His Majesty's commitment to a path of political, economic and social reforms in Jordan.