Brussels, Asharq Al-Awsat- Asked by Asharq al-Awsat if he felt optimistic about the possible achievement of progress in the Middle East peace process, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said “I have been optimistic for three years interspersed with periods of pessimism. But I can say at present that the only thing which inspires optimism is Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz’s visit to Damascus. That is the only optimistic point. Other than that, there are no other elements warranting optimism because the Saudi king’s visit to Syria and his talks there were very important. As to the future of the peace process, I believe that the EU should do more than what it is doing at present and its participation should be more effective.”
Kouchner made these statements on the sidelines of the meetings of the EU’s foreign ministers over two days which ended in Luxembourg yesterday. He said that the Palestinian president faced a major problem internally because of the Goldstone report and he must now do many things to consolidate his leadership.
On his part, Javier Solana, the EU’s senior security and foreign affairs coordinator, said in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat about the same issue “I am always optimistic and I believe there is a possibility and it should be seized to back the peace process. I admit that this is something difficult but not impossible.”
Jean Asselborn, the foreign minister of Luxembourg, said “Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s call to hold elections is very important and I consider it a way for bringing the Palestinians together for the sake of a new start for the Palestinian people and I hope that the internal Palestinian dialogue will have positive results.” He added in his statements to Asharq Al-Awsat: “I have been the foreign minister of Luxembourg for five years. I do not like the current situation and I do not see a solution on the horizon despite the attempts of US President Barack Obama with Netanyahu and Abu-Mazin. No step forward has happened. I say it frankly that the ball is now in Israel’s court. The results are going to be very negative if concrete steps are not taken.” He said “our message in the EU is that we are ready alongside the United States to help the concerned parties in the peace process to revive it again. From my personal viewpoint, the present Palestinian Authority leadership has a very positive will and knows the meaning of peace and state of law as well as how things go. If nothing positive happens, then I fear that the extremists will take control and hence I say and ask: Why does not Israel extend its hand to the present Authority to achieve progress in the peace process?”