José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission
Press statement with Prime Minister Fayyad
Visit of President Barroso in Ramallah
8 July 2012
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank Prime Minister Fayyad for his warm welcome and hospitality. I am happy to be in Ramallah two years after the Prime Minister and I last met in Brussels (13 July 2010).
Indeed, the opportunity to personally appreciate and see the developments that are taking place here is invaluable. And I should say that we started very well. Indeed, we just had a very productive and fruitful meeting where we discussed the state of play of our bilateral relations as well as issues of common interest and concern pertaining to the Palestinian Authority and the region.
In our meeting we focused on the Palestinian Authority's achievements of the recent years and I commended the Prime Minister for his leadership in undertaking remarkable institution-building efforts and the delivery of public services to the Palestinian population.
My message to the Prime Minister and to Palestinians is clear: we have stood by you in this journey and we will continue to do so. In fact the European Union stands as the largest donor to the Palestinian people, including through UNRWA. From 2000 to the end of 2011, the EU has committed nearly 4 billion Euros in assistance through various instruments. So, our commitment is clear.
To give you a concrete example, the Prime Minister and I will travel to Jericho right after this Press Conference to inaugurate the Palestine College for Police Sciences which was co-funded by the European Commission. At the College we will sign a cooperation agreement worth 20 million Euros in support of the Rule of Law and Democracy. This shows that our support is not just in words but also deeds. We are effectively advancing our common agenda in support of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and good governance.
The truth is that through our overall political and financial support we are laying the foundations of a future democratic and viable Palestinian state – its institutions and its infrastructure. And through this we are contributing to a two-state solution. That has and will continue to be our goal: two states living side-by-side in peace and security.
The resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict remains a strategic priority for the EU. We will continue with our efforts, within the Quartet, to facilitate contacts between the parties and to resume substantive talks. In this context, it is important that both sides support confidence building measures to re-launch the peace process.
Lately, international attention has been focused on other countries in the region. However the momentous change that we are witnessing throughout the Arab World should constitute an incitement and not a deterrent to the resumption of negotiations. The Middle East Peace Process cannot become an orphan of the Arab Spring.
Meanwhile it is important that the two parties do not act in a way that undermines the viability of a two-state solution. In this respect it is with concern that we see the continuous growth of settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
I also welcomed signs of more concrete progress on Palestinian reconciliation. This is a key factor contributing to the unity of a future Palestinian State and to reaching the two-state solution.
In addition, the prospect of elections, which the Prime Minister has supported, would be a significant contribution to Palestinian state-building. It is important that all Palestinian actors take advantage of the positive developments towards democratisation in the region to build a future of democracy, security and prosperity.
I am fully aware of the magnitude of the challenges that the Prime Minister and the Palestinian people still face. But as I said before: we stand by you.
To conclude, I would like once more to praise Prime Minister Fayyad for his incredibly important work and for his leadership. The European Commission will continue to work with you to lay the foundations for a Palestinian State. This is a walk that we walk together.
I thank you for your attention.