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Anförande vid EuroMed-mötet i Lissabon

Anförande i Lissabon, Portugal

Mr. President,

Let me briefly address four points:

First: The necessity of peace in the Middle East. At this moment we are hoping that the dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian leaders will lead to a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We all know what is needed: the creation of a Palestine state. Nothing is more important for the state of Israel and its future security than the setting up of this state.

There are difficult decisions that need to be made by leaders in both Israel and Palestine. But I believe they all fundamentally recognize that delay brings the risk of deterioration in a situation that is already fairly dangerous.

The building of a Palestine state will require efforts by all of us. It obviously needs a contiguous territory, freedom of movement and access to the outside world. We need to create the conditions for private sector lead growth that can bring jobs and income to not only the Palestinians of today but also the significantly higher Palestinian population of tomorrow.

And I do believe that there are great possibilities in such a development for Israel as well. No nation has a better experience of building prosperity out of poverty. In the Middle East of tomorrow, they together can set an example for others.

We in the European Union stand ready to help. It's about our security as well. We are neighbours and partners in shaping this part of the world.

Second: the importance we attach to the building of societies based on the rule of the law and respect for human rights.

This is obviously important in itself, but it is also a key prerequisite for sustained economic and social development. Authoritarian and bureaucratic regimes stifle not only freedom but also prosperity.

Third: the importance of reforms that creates better possibilities for economic growth.

In the next decade or two the population of the region will be increased by app 150 million people. That is two new Egypt's in terms of numbers.

This will require economic growth rates of East Asian dimensions to manage. And that should be possible if reforms are pursued vigorously throughout the region and all of us are prepared to open up to each other.

There are on-going negotiations on liberalisation in services and establishment as well as in agricultural products and fisheries. The Agadir Agreement entered into force earlier this year and will create a Free Trade Area with Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan. There was a also a successful Euro-Med Trade Ministerial meeting here in Lisbon only two weeks ago.

But it is obvious that more needs to be done.

Fourth: the importance of deepening the dialogue and alliance between our civilisations, cultures and religious beliefs.

It is not only a question about avoiding dangerous stereotypes and avoiding misunderstandings. We should fully appreciate that it is in the meeting of different cultures that the true opportunities for creativity exist.

We have established the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures in order to help and assist in this process.

We hope that the creation of an office of President will give the Foundation more visibility and greater effectiveness.

Finally I would like to express my thanks to Portugal for hosting this meeting.

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