European Union
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 East.
(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 countries.
(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.