Sarkozy mad 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday he wanted to see a
united European Union voice on the issue of Palestinian statehood at
next month's United Nations General Assembly and urged Washington to do
more for peace.
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"The 27 countries of the European Union must
express themselves with one voice," Sarkozy said in an opening speech to
an annual conference of French ambassadors.
role of the US is uncontested and irreplaceable, but everybody sees
that it is not enough. We have to widen the circle of negotiation, think
of the role and pertinence of the quartet."
Sarkozy said the
world could not continue to leave the Palestinian peace process frozen
while the Arab Spring forces change elsewhere in the region.
Up until now most of the EU’s countries have refrained from committing
on how they would vote on the resolution, saying that it depended on the
text. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was scheduled to
convene an informal meeting of the EU’s 27 foreign ministers on
September 2 where the issue will be discussed.
The EU moved closer to a trade deal with the Palestinian Authority on
Wednesday, in what could be construed as a sign of support for the
statehood bid. The European Parliament's International trade committee
voted 27-0 to fully open markets to farm and fish products from the West
Bank and Gaza Strip. The vote paved the way for full parliamentary
approval for a deal later this year.
While small -- trade between the EU and the West Bank and Gaza was worth
60 million euros in 2009, of which just 10 percent constituted
Palestinian exports to the EU -- the move nonetheless represents an
opportunity for exports to boost an economy weakened by chronic conflict
"This deal is enormously important. It gives more power to the
Palestinians to trade directly with the EU. And it's a signal of good
will from the international community that comes at an important time,"
said Maria Eleni Koppa, a Greek socialist lawmaker who led the
committee's discussion on the issue.
The West Bank and Gaza mostly export vegetables, fruits and cut flowers
to the European Union, while the territories import EU machinery,
chemicals and transport equipment.
The new deal will give Palestinian exporters unlimited duty-free access
to European markets for farm goods and products as well as fresh and
"For us this is one of the agreements that will help us build the
economy of an independent sovereign state," Majed Bamya, a Palestinian
diplomat in Brussels, told Reuters.
The full European Parliament is due to vote on the trade agreement in late September.
Once approved, the deal needs final backing from EU member states and
ratification by the Palestinian Authority. It is expected to enter into
force before the end of 2011.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.