Belgian President Louis Michel
Statement on the Results of the European Troika in the Middle East
September 28, 2001
Ladies en Gentlemen,
I would like to present to you a first analysis as well as the first conclusions
that I draw from our Troika mission to various Arab and Muslim countries.
(1) This mission was an important demarche of the European Union. The Union
has assumed its responsibilities at an important and delicate moment. The Union
did not hesitate to show collective leadership. The mission has been very well
received in every one of the countries we visited.
This visit was first and foremost a political symbol: the European Union extended
its hand to the Arab and Muslim world. This was well understood by our interlocutors.
(2) Our repeated rejection of the equation of terrorism with the Arab or Muslim
world has been heard and was appreciated.
(3) In each of the capitals we visited, we noted a similar message of condemnation
of the attacks on 11 September. Beyond this condemnation, we felt an anxiety
as to the destabilizing risks caused by such acts.
(4) The countries we visited also shared our analysis : terrorism is a global
problem that needs a global answer.
(5) We need to put in place a multidisciplinary approach, which will require
simultaneous actions on various fronts.
(6) The central role of the UN in this process was generally emphasized. This
could lead to the organization of an international conference against terrorism.
(7) The roots of terrorism are also a preoccupying issue. We will have to undertake
a serious analysis of these causes in order to eliminate them. On that note,
several partners have referred explicitly to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle
(8) Finally, we have noted that, apart for Syria, there is no country, which
explicitly opposes the right to strike back of the United States as long as
this is justified by proof, is well targeted and does not cause civilian casualties.
My first conclusions:
Next week we will present the conclusions of this mission to the European Parliament.
But I would like to emphasize already at this stage some instructive points
from this visit:
First, at European level:
(a) The decision of the European Council of last Friday in Brussels to send
us to the region was right and was politically significant. Let me remind you
that these conclusions which we presented here were adopted or endorsed by 28
(b) We have to address as soon as possible the task of defining what constitutes
terrorism or, to be more precise, what constitutes a terrorist act.
(c) As regards financing of terrorism we have to implement the Action Plan adopted
last Friday. Several of our interlocutors have complained about a lack of cooperation
by EU countries in this field. We have to take as soon as possible measures
to forestall such criticism.
As regards transatlantic relations:
(a) Our message to the United States is that only a multilateral approach can
reinforce their security, can guarantee ours.
(b) We will also deliver the message to them that it is important to take into
account different public opinions. Everywhere there is the willingness to combat
terrorism. But also the fear exists that potential disproportionate actions
could lead to the loss of support of these public opinions, with the risks of
destabilization this entails.
Finally as regards our relations with the world:
(a) Our mission was not a one shot operation. We have just now launched a permanent
process, in particular with this region. We have the will and the responsibility
to continue and reinforce the dialogue we started this week. This capacity to
listen to persuade, to discuss within mutual respect is an essential characteristic
of European diplomacy.
(b) We will continue this exchange of views next week, in the framework of the
EU-Russia summit in Brussels.