CAIRO, 20th December, 2016 (WAM) — The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union (EU) and of the League of Arab States (LAS) acknowledging the importance of engaging together to address common political, economic, social and security challenges, in particular, the fight against terrorism and the prevention of radicalization and their root causes, as well as migration.

At the conclusion of their 4th Meeting, the Ministers issued the following Declaration: The Ministers reaffirmed the cardinal principles of sovereignty and independence of states, rule of law, good governance, security and respect for human rights and democracy within an inclusive political system, which represent key elements of sustainable development, security and stability.

The Ministers called for the development of preventive diplomacy tools, confidence and security building measures and dialogue as the only principles to resolve divergences, contribute to de-escalate tensions and prevent increasing sectarianism fuelling regional disputes.

The Ministers condemned all terrorist acts and practices in all their forms and manifestations regardless of their motives by whoever committed them, and renewed their commitment to fight them in full respect of human rights and the rule of law. The Ministers agreed to share assessments and best practices and to cooperate in identifying means to address common threats and committed to full implementation of the UN Global Counter Terrorism strategy and all the relevant UN resolutions.

They welcomed the establishment of a 2.3 -billion-euro EU Trust Fund to help Africa in counteracting the root causes of migration and noted the potential for closer cooperation on borders.

The Ministers recognised the significant contribution that women make to the economy and the major force they represent for change and development in all sectors of society. In this context, the Ministers underlined their willingness to promote gender equality, notably through political, social and economic empowerment of women and girls, and welcomed the steps towards the implementation of the regional programme “Economic and Political Empowerment of Women” in partnership with LAS, EU and UN Women.

The Ministers agreed to strengthen cooperation and efforts in the field of child protection with the aim of eliminating all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children in line with Target 16.2 of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, and in accordance to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its three Optional Protocols. They agreed in particular to work together on preventive measures and comprehensive rehabilitation services for child victims of all forms of violence, especially refugee and migrant children and those affected by armed conflicts, to ensure their full recovery and reintegration into society.

On the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), the Ministers reaffirmed the need for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, in line with all relevant UN resolutions, especially UNSC resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and, 1515, and land for peace, while highlighting the strategic importance of the Arab Peace Initiative adopted in 2002 and recalled inter alia relevant Conclusions of the Council of the European Union related to the MEPP.

The Ministers underlined that the realisation of a two-state solution is the only way to achieve an enduring peace and to that end the international community should work with all relevant stakeholders to end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and resolve all permanent status issues. The Ministers expressed concern that trends on the ground are dangerously imperiling the viability of that solution. They condemned all acts of violence and terror.

The Ministers reaffirmed their shared position that Israeli settlement policy, including in occupied East Jerusalem, and related actions such as demolitions and confiscation – including of EU funded projects – and forced transfers are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and endanger the viability of the two-state solution. In view of this, the Ministers strongly opposed Israeli plans to construct and expand settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and urged Israel not to adopt legislation which would allow for the “legalisation” of outposts and settlements in the occupied West Bank by confiscating private Palestinian property rights, which could have far reaching consequences.

With regards to Syria, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and independence of Syria. They renewed their support to the efforts made by the United Nations (UN) Special Envoy to Syria Mr. Staffan de Mistura as well as to the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqu? of 30 June 2012 and UN Resolution 2254 and 2268. The Ministers stressed that inclusive Intra-Syria talks are the only way for a credible and genuine political transition based on power sharing as well as a lasting peace and encouraged efforts by the High Negotiation Committee to find a political solution.

Ministers expressed their deep concern over the situation in Aleppo. They strongly condemned the deliberate and indiscriminate attack on Eastern Aleppo by the regime and its allies, and the targeting of civilians and humanitarian infrastructures. They called on all parties to ensure: the voluntary, safe, dignified and unobstructed evacuation of all civilians under international monitoring supervision to a destination of their choice; full unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need throughout Syria, including support for the provision of essential medical help; and an immediate cessation of hostilities and the resumption of access to besieged areas. They welcomed the adoption of the UNSCR 2328 on humanitarian situation in Aleppo. The Ministers condemned the violations of human rights, humanitarian international law and potential war crimes, and agreed on the importance of bringing those responsible to justice.

The Ministers strongly condemned the terrorist acts and crimes committed against civilians across Syria by Da’esh and UN designated terrorist groups, and support the efforts of the Global Coalition against Da’esh.

On Yemen, Yemen t he Ministers affirmed their commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen and their support to the aspirations of the Yemeni people for freedom, democracy, social justice and development. They reiterated their support to the legitimate Government led by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi while insisting on the urgency of the restoration of legitimate state authority through a peaceful settlement to the conflict, in accordance to GCC Initiative and implementing mechanism, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and in particular resolution 2216, as well as the proposals of the ongoing UN led peace initiative. In this context the Ministers commended the efforts of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General in Yemen, Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

The Ministers called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and cessation of hostilities as a first step for the resumption of an inclusive Yemeni political process.

The Ministers condemned all unilateral measures, such as the formation of the so called “National Salvation Government” in Sana’a, formed by the Houthis and Saleh, which violate international resolutions and jeopardize the peace process efforts.

The Ministers also expressed their support for the Yemeni Government’s efforts to combat terrorist organisations and fight against extremism and radicalisation.

Addressing the Libyan situation, Libya the Ministers affirmed their commitment to the unity, sovereignty and integrity of Libyan territory and their rejection of any foreign intervention if not upon the request of the presidential council and the government of national accord and in coordination with them, as they had stated in the joint statement on Libya at the 71st UN General Assembly on 22 of September 2016. They called for an inclusive political solution to the crisis in Libya. They reiterated their support for the full implementation of the Libyan political agreement signed in Skhirat on 17 December 2015. They reaffirmed their support for the existing political dialogue under the auspices of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Libya. In this context, they welcomed the appointment of the Special Representative to the Secretary General of the League of Arab States in Libya.

On Lebanon, Lebanon, the Ministers welcomed the election of the President Michel Aoun and the formation of a national unity government led by Saad Hariri as crucial steps to ensure Lebanon’s ability to address the growing political, security, economic and social challenges ahead and to ensure the proper functioning of the democratic institutions. They reaffirmed their commitment to the unity, independence, integrity of Lebanon and their attachment to its stability to safeguard its role as a model of moderation and coexistence in the region.

Concerning Iraq, the Ministers strongly condemned the terrorist organisation Da’esh for its atrocious crimes and egregious violations of fundamental rights perpetrated against Iraqi citizens, including people who have been targeted on a religious or ethnic basis, as well as the destruction of Iraqi cultural heritage, places of worship and monuments. They urged to bring the perpetrators of such acts to justice. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the United Nations Security Council resolutions that oblige all countries to cooperate in combating Da’esh, and to refrain from any kind of support to it.

The Ministers commended the latest victories achieved by the Iraqi armed forces in liberating areas from Da’esh.

The Ministers reiterated their full commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq and underlined the importance of non-interference in its internal affairs.

On Iran, the Ministers emphasised the importance that relations between Arab States and the Islamic Republic of Iran be based on the principles of good-neighborliness, refrain from the use of force, non-interference in internal affairs, respect of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, resolution of disputes through peaceful means, according to UN Charter and International Law. They recognised that de-escalating tensions and rebuilding confidence would help to strengthen security and stability in the region, and expressed concerns about interventions that had a destabilizing effect on Arab States.

As for the UAE’s occupied islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, the Ministers reiterated their support for a peaceful solution to the conflict in accordance with international law, either through direct negotiations or by referring the issues to the International Court of Justice, as suggested by United Arab Emirates.

As far as Sudan concerned, the Ministers welcomed the African Union road map as well as the launching by the Government of Sudan of the comprehensive national dialogue and the beginning of the process of exposing its results to the parliament in the framework of preparing a permanent constitution for Sudan and called on all parties to engage in an inclusive and constructive dialogue.

On Somalia, the Ministers noted the progress on the current electoral process and hoped that this will be concluded shortly, marking an important step for Somalia.