Following his meeting with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Otte said on Wednesday, the Kingdom was playing a very “positive role” for achieving the goal of a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli problem.
“The rarest commodity at the moment on both sides is trust,” the EU special envoy said in a wide-ranging interview where he provided an overview of the recent developments in the Middle East.
He outlined the role played by the EU in the continued search for a settlement to the Middle East conflict. Otte appreciated the role of Riyadh, especially in bringing the feuding Palestinian factions to the negotiating table and in donating aid. 
The EU special envoy said he was here to see how the “Saudi government is working hard to create better conditions” in the region as whole.
After his talks with Saudi officials, including with members of the Shoura Council, Otte called for closer cooperation between the Gulf bloc and the 27-member EU in different sectors.
The June 14 ministerial meeting, he said, would devise new measures to boost EU-GCC ties and to restart FTA negotiations.
Asked as how he perceives prospect of peace in the Middle East, the EU special envoy said “the parties in the talks should be monitored closely so that more obstacles should not arise.”
Otte hoped that the talks through mediators will soon lead to direct talks. He, however, said that the obstacles to peace in the Middle East have not changed in the last 20 years.
On the question of a two-state solution with a peaceful and sovereign Palestinian state existing side by side with Israel, Otte, who had served as Belgian ambassador to Tel Aviv, said the approaches of the Arab League and the EU are “similar” on the issue. He, however, said “words must be transformed into action now.”
Asked about whether the EU would give a time-line like the deadline given by the Arab League to conclude the US-brokered peace negotiations, he said:  “We support the talks and encourage regional parties to remain engaged in the peace process, while we work on removing the obstacles to the success of the proximity talks.”
“The indirect talks will lead to direct talks shortly, I believe,” he added. “Our views are largely convergent on political issues of the region,” said Otte, while referring to his talks with Saudi officials.
On the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah, the EU envoy said the Palestinian divisions are reflections of a larger Arab problem. This and other divisions in Arab rank and file “have to be sorted out by Palestinians and Arabs themselves,” said Otte.
He said the EU did not want to be a military force and soft power has often shown its usefulness. Yet, that does not mean that Europeans are afraid of military solutions.
“If you look at the people preserving peace in conflict spots, such as the Golan and South Lebanon, you will find that the majority are Europeans,” he said.

Add Comment