Address of President Charles Michel at the Cairo Peace Summit

First, I should like to add my voice to those who have welcomed this initiative for peace and to thank you for inviting the European Union as well as other EU Member States to attend this summit.

The EU is a political project that came into being last century in the aftermath of two tragic world wars. It is a project that has been made a reality thanks to reconciliation and the courage and the will of visionary political leaders. If I may, I would like to read out to you today Article 3 of the Treaty establishing the European Union, which states that the Union contributes to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the child, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter. And it is this declaration, enshrined in the Treaty, on which the European Union’s actions on the international stage need to be based. There can be no double standards, we must have a clear line to adopt, and it is based on those convictions – which are shared by the 27 heads of state or government who, a few days ago, repeated this message of unity within the European Union – that I would like to share this with you.

We strongly condemn Hamas’s ignoble terrorist attack on Israel and its people and call for the unconditional and immediate release of hostages. I would therefore thank those seated around this table who have, I know, engaged in mediation efforts so that progress can be made on the release of hostages.

We affirm the importance of protecting civilians and protecting civilian infrastructure, always and everywhere and at all times. And lastly, we affirm Israel’s right to defend itself. That right to defend itself must be exercised in line with international law and with international humanitarian law. Now, it seems to us that there are three points which are important and in which regard I would like to thank you for having brought us together around the same table.

The first point is about mobilising to open up humanitarian access, to ensure that those who are most vulnerable have access to water, electricity, food and medicine. I will say it now: a complete siege violates international law, and I would like to commend you, Secretary-General, for the efforts made by you and your team with the Egyptian authorities, to make progress on this matter, with the first trucks due to bring in some essential goods. Lastly, I would like to say that the European Union is consistent. We intend to keep up our efforts to provide assistance to the most vulnerable, and we have announced that we will triple humanitarian aid.

The second point I will mention is this: it is our responsibility, it is our duty to each and every person to work together to prevent a regional escalation, contain the conflict and bring an end to the cycle of violence. This should be our shared ambition, and that is why I think that this meeting is important: we have a duty, we have a responsibility.

Finally, the third point I would like to stress, as many have said before me, is the need to make every effort to move towards a lasting solution, one that must be based on the two-state solution.

I would like to highlight the initiative taken by High Representative Borrell a few months ago on the margins of the General Assembly in New York, launching the ‘Peace Day Effort’ process, which has brought together a great many countries around this common objective. We believe we must also support the strengthening of the Palestinian Authority, which represents the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

As you can see and as we know, this is a conflict, a tragedy that has caused much suffering and misfortune. It is a tragedy and a conflict that creates a great deal of polarisation, division and tension throughout the world, beyond the region. It is our responsibility to live up to our duty and ensure that we can make real and serious progress towards peace, stability and security. You can count on the European Union to make its contribution to these values, which we cherish and which we wish to see shared throughout the world. Thank you very much. Shukran.

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