6th Euro-Med Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA)
Khetam Malkawi, The Jordan Times, 15 March 2010
AMMAN - The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the main obstacle to economic progress in the region, politicians from the Euro-Mediterranean region said on Saturday.
In the sixth plenary session of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA), a majority of deputies from the 43 countries called on key players in the peace process to achieve a peace settlement through direct negotiations and to come up with a time frame to establish an independent Palestinian state.
The conflict dominated discussions in the capital yesterday, with MPs from the Euro-Med region calling on Israel to stop violations of Palestinians’ rights.
European Parliament MP Ivo Vajgl underlined the need to settle the conflict in order to achieve prosperity in the region.
“We are here to support promising projects for the Euro-Mediterranean region, but of course the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is casting the shadow over any initiative of the assembly,” Vajgl said.
Addressing an Israeli delegation, he said: “We are trying to find a common dialogue and establish a Palestinian state living side-by-side [with Israel]. Please take this message to your colleagues in the Knesset.”
Others called on Israel to stop violence committed against Palestinian civilians.
“We must stop tolerating these crimes and come up with a solution ensuring long-lasting peace in the region,” Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, a Cypriot member of the European Parliament (GUE/NGL), said.
Austrian MP Albrecht Konecny said a majority of projects funded by his country and the European Union in the occupied territories were “destroyed” as a result of Israeli military actions.
“This is not promising at all. If history is going to document anything about Israel, it will only be that it is buying time,” Konecny told attendees, calling for “a new language for dialogue”.
Speaking at the opening of the session yesterday, outgoing EMPA president Senator Abdul Hadi Majali said discussing the Palestinian cause was made a priority by the EMPA general assembly.
He noted that the discussions seek to find solutions to problems facing people of the Mediterranean, particularly people in the Middle East.
“This cause is the core of conflict, as people of the region realise that all attempts related to development and reform programmes that affect their lives conflict with the political stance in the region, especially with the deterioration of the peace process,” Majali said.
Union for the Mediterranean (UPM) Secretary General Ahmad Masadeh said the union’s general assembly will select several development projects to implement in the region in order to enhance political trust.
Also at yesterday’s meeting, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khalid Irani presented a paper about the region and Jordan’s efforts in relation to climate change and renewable energy.
During the EMPA session, which concludes today, subcommittees will come up with recommendations on political, economic, quality of life, women’s rights, energy and environmental issues.
Today will also mark the handover of the EMPA presidency to the Italian parliament.