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Situation in the Middle East

Situation in the Middle East

Published on January 20, 2009
Statement to the press by M. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic, following the Sharm El Sheikh meeting

Paris, January 18, 2009

President Mubarak,

Thanks to you, this is my third visit to Sharm el Sheikh, obviously it isn’t a punishment, quite the opposite. Everyone here wants peace, immediate, durable peace.

From the outset, we were convinced that Egypt could play a decisive role in the peace solution. And this is what’s motivated the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak successfully, given what we’ve got now compared with the situation a fortnight ago. On the table today are two declarations, admittedly unilateral ones, but two ceasefire declarations, one by the Israelis and one by Hamas.

A fortnight ago, we weren’t at this point. The weapons were talking; the weapons must be silenced. And as we see it, this is just the start. We’ve got to continue and speed up the achievement of the two-State solution, a Palestinian State living alongside an Israeli State which has the right to security.

What’s going to happen next? The ceasefire must now be consolidated. And Egypt will be organizing a humanitarian summit in a few days’ time so that the crossing points are re-opened, so that the humanitarian aid can actually be provided. And there’s also a need to recreate confidence. For this, we need to put a stop to the arms trafficking. And again yesterday a number of our countries proposed, through a letter Mrs Merkel, Mr Brown and I signed, making all the technical and diplomatic resources required on the military, and particularly naval, front available to Israel and to Egypt to help end the weapons smuggling. And then we think it necessary, in a way, to take advantage of this crisis to put back on the table the idea of a major conference which would provide the opportunity for establishing the foundations of a durable peace; and we’ll need everyone.

Finally, we’re going to go to Israel now to say to Israel that we are at her side as regards ensuring her right to security, but that now Israel must clearly say that if the rocket fire stops, the Israeli army will leave Gaza. There are no other solutions for peace.

Time is working against us, this is why we had decided to really speed things up, and I want to tell President Mubarak again how courageous he’s been, what a visionary he’s been and how constructive he’s been. And I’d also like to finish by saying how important it is for us to have the President of the Palestinian Authority at our side because he is a man of peace, that the Arab League has its full role to play in reducing tension and we are counting on it to do this, and, finally, that through the intermediary of all the Heads of State and Government here, particularly President Topolanek, Europe is determined to do absolutely all it can to help resolve this conflict which isn’t a regional conflict, but a global conflict which is capable of fuelling terrorism. Peace is in everyone’s interest. This is the reason for the Sharm el Sheikh summit, there will be another in Egypt and we’ll have to think about the great conference for durable peace within the next few days./.

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