Jordan’s vital role in providing support to the Syrian refugees, its efforts for the Middle East Peace Process, as well as EU-Jordan bilateral relations and the Union for the Mediterranean were at the heart of discussions during the 10th meeting of the EU-Jordan Association Council held today, December 19, in Brussels.
Cyprus’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis represented the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton at the meeting, while Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Štefan Füle, also participated. The Jordanian delegation was lead by the Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Judeh, and also included the Jordanian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Jafar Hassan.
The Association Council began with the political dialogue between the two sides covering current international issues of common interest, and particularly the crisis in Syria, the Middle East Peace Process and the Union for the Mediterranean. The Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Ms Kristalina Georgieva, also participated in the political dialogue.
"This was the 10th Association Council with Jordan and we have reviewed the progress made in recent months in Jordan’s reform process. We have confirmed that the EU remains a strong supporter of Jordan’s political reforms reinforcing democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights, and we encourage Jordan to pursue these efforts paving the way to more consensus-based initiatives,” said Minister Marcoullis at the press conference following the meeting.
She also announced that, following the invitation of the Jordanian Independent Electoral Commission, the EU will deploy an EU electoral observation mission in view of the legislative elections scheduled for January 23, 2013. The two sides also signed the Protocol to the Association Agreement allowing Jordan to participate in Union programmes, which Dr. Marcoullis welcomed as another important step towards closer bilateral EU-Jordan ties.
Cyprus' Foreign Affairs Minister also acknowledged the difficult situation in Jordan further to the influx of refugees from Syria and commended Jordanian efforts to address this issue. She pointed out that the priority is to stop the killings in Syria and support a political transition.
On the Middle East Peace Process, the Minister reiterated the EU position that a comprehensive negotiated peace must entail a two-state solution with the State of Israel and a sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side within agreed borders in peace and security.
“We have greatly appreciated Jordan’s efforts earlier this year to facilitate direct contacts between Israel and the Palestinians” added Dr. Marcoullis.
Speaking at the press conference, Commissioner Füle said that the Commission, together with High Representative Baroness Catherine Ashton, announced today new programmes worth 10 million euros, which will provide additional support for sustainable and inclusive growth as well as economic development in Jordan, particularly for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). He added that the EU is implementing a comprehensive co-operation package with Jordan for a budget of over €220 million between 2011 and 2013.
“This should be seen as a further sign of support and encouragement to the continuation of the political and economic reform process” stated the Commissioner.
On his part, the Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his satisfaction and appreciation for the progress in EU –Jordan relations and the confidence that these relations will be even further strengthened in the future, on the basis of the core values of peace, stability and prosperity.
Minister Judeh also stressed that the Israeli – Palestinian issue is the core issue in the Middle East and a source of much regional instability. He added that the EU and Jordan have discussed “ways and means to work together”, along with the United States, to breathe new life into the peace process. He concluded that the region of the Middle East, “and even the world”, will only prosper if there is peace through negotiations, leading to a two-state solution.
Finally, on Syria, Minister Judeh stressed the need for a continuation of the efforts for a solution to the crisis, which will also safeguard the independence and territorial integrity of Syria, and the dignity of its people.
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