Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280
FRIDAY 23 MARCH 2007
DR JAVIER SOLANA
Q280 Lord Chidgey:
Because inevitably it seems to me that because of US foreign policy
towards the Middle East there are many, many countries which automatically
oppose the US's ambitions because of their relationship with Israel
and I wondered if it undermined the Saudis' position to have a
greater role because of their closeness with the US, or not; I
Dr Solana: Very important things are taking
place. I do not know if you have read the statement of the last
meeting in Kuwait between the four Arab countries and Dr Rice.
It is a very important statement and it is worth reading. It was
not published in our press for reasons which I do not know but
it is very important because this is the bargain of the four countries
saying we will help you in Iraq; you will help us trying to get
Palestinians moving, and we will continue working to stop Tehran.
These are the three elements of the agreement, which is a very
important statement. It is not set out as clearly as I describe
it but that is the content of that agreement. That was signed
in Kuwait less than a month ago. It is an important division of
labour in a sense. Is everybody going to play his part in the
bargain? We will see.
Secretary-General, we only have a limited amount of time.
Dr Solana: I have an infinite amount of time.
Chairman: Three of my colleagues are
anxious to get in and I am going to call them in the order of
Lord Lea, Lord Crickhowell and Baroness Symons.
Q282 Lord Lea of Crondall:
Dr Solana, we have all been very impressed by the scope and detail
of your picture. When we started our inquiry we had a bit of a
debate about whether what we were looking at was just Israel/Palestine
in some sense or the broader picture. We cannot go away from this
morning without realising that Iran for example, Damascus for
example, Riyadh, Mecca, Egypt, all of these things are part of
the picture. Would you comment on whether that is a correct understanding
of the jigsaw that you are painting? Could you characterise it
in this sense: is this partly because of the Shia/Sunni question
or bringing Syria back into the Arab world in some sense or the
other way round, saying that the bigger crisis in actually in
the short term Iran/Israel and that we cannot other than see all
these things in a collective piece of architecture?
The Israeli-Palestinian track continues to be
absolutely fundamental because the other Sunni moderate countries
will not sustain public opinion on co-operating with Riyadh and
co-operating with the United States or co-operating with the Europeans,
et cetera, if they do not see something moving on the Palestinian
track, and therefore the Palestinian track continues to be fundamental.
We want to maintain this scheme. This scheme has a point of failure
if nothing happens in the Palestinian/Israeli track because the
leaders of the Arab countries will not behave in the manner that
they are behaving now because of public opinion if they do not
receive something positive on the peace process. They have to
notice that we care about that process. They have to explain to
their own people that we care. We may not resolve it completely
but at least we have to show them we care, and that is the important
thing in convincing Condi Rice to really get engaged more personally
because we are already doing it.
Q284 Lord Crickhowell:
Dr Solana, you have given us a fascinating account of the relationships
and the developing situation in the Arab world. We have a rather
weak Israeli Government. Would you like to say a little more about
Israel than you have said so far?
Israel is a country which has a lot of complications,
more than the complications that derive from the war, and you
know there is a commission that is going to provide a response
probably by the end of the month of March or in April and no longer.
Everybody knows that the report of the Commission is going to
be very tough. What is going to be the scheme after Kadima, what
is going to be the future of Kadima is a question mark . The hope
that we have is that the only outcome that this Government has
is to jump forward; the only solution it has is to move. If they
stay still they will collapse. If they move with Hamas with some
steps in the direction of peace, the polls of yesterday were that
57% of the people in Israel accepted the Unity Government as something
positive, so the appetite for peace is really an appetite which
is growing. Do we have leaders with enough power to recognise
that appetite and who have the courage to move on? We do not know
really because being so long in this report is really very, very
difficult, but this is an element which is there and unfortunately
this is the negative element we have. We have two witnesses in
the Palestinians and the Israelis. Can we construct strength out
of two witnesses? The only manner we have is to jump forward to
take a decision which is beneficial for both. At this point in
time the only initiative that is beneficial for both is to move
towards peace. That is the hope that we have and we have to work
on that. That is what the Americans also have realised.
QQ285-288 Baroness Symons of Vernham
Secretary-General, it has been extraordinarily valuable for us
to really see what the work of the High Representative is in practice
because this gives us a feel for the function of the European
Union within the Quartet and more widely dealing with the problems
of the Middle East. I wonder if I could just end with a final
question as to whether you could see any specific things that
the European Union can now do to advance the peace process, how
far we should be looking towards a political horizon and how far
we could take that forward, because that is what you will be discussing
when you have your meeting?
Dr Solana: I will tell you very frankly what
we should do: firstly, we must maintain unity amongst ourselves.
Without unity amongst ourselves it is bad. Secondly, we have to
support some inches ahead of Dr Rice. Dr Rice is playing rather
a bold game and I am sure she has the support of the President
otherwise she would not do it but it is not clear that everybody
is behind her on this issue. Therefore to help her in this issue
I think it is important and what I try to do is go some inches
faster or ahead so that we can create an atmosphere of trust.
We have an atmosphere of trust between the two sides of the ocean
which is very, very good and that allows her to continue and it
allows her to push. That is what I would do.
Chairman: Yes, Secretary-General again
can I say on behalf of the Committee this has been the high point
of our inquiry. We have seen European foreign policy in practice
listening to you this morning and the range of activities that
you have been involved in and the analysis which you have presented
for us. We will be continuing with our report. We hope to be able
to contribute usefully to this debate. You have helped us a great
deal by showing us what can be done.