- United Kingdom
20 August 2019, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States delivered by H.E. Mr. Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations at the Security Council Open Debate on "Maintenance of international peace and security: Challenges to peace and security in the Middle East"
Members of the Security Council,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, align themselves with this statement.
Conflict resolution for the Middle East followed by post-crisis management is one of the most difficult tasks international diplomacy is currently facing.
The EU fully supports the United Nations, and in particular the Security Council as the key actor for upholding respect for and compliance with international law such as the UN Security Council Resolutions relevant to the situation in the Middle East. Only if all sides comply with their obligations under international law, including adherence to all resolutions of the Security Council, can a credible peace take root. Otherwise, sustainable peace is at stake. A key challenge to peace and security in the Middle East is terrorism fuelled by radicalisation and violent extremism. Even if Da’esh has been territorially defeated in Syria and Iraq, it continues to pose a serious threat. Terrorist threats also exist elsewhere, including in Yemen and Gaza. Indeed, while there is a concentration of such activity in this region, terrorism can strike in all parts of the world.
Another element to consider is the lack of trust among key parties, and the absence of a political horizon for many citizens. Many countries in the Middle East are witnessing an erosion of social contracts, which is posing serious strains on social cohesion and territorial integrity. This has led to a fragmentation of societies and the multiplication of sub-national armed actors with narrow interests. Without trust and inclusiveness, no political solution can be successful.
Let me explain how we see all these factors in relation to the situation across the Middle East.
The EU is extremely concerned by the measures taken by Iran since the beginning of July, inconsistent with its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPoA. We call upon Iran to reverse these steps immediately, to refrain from any further escalatory steps, and to come back into compliance with its obligations.
We recall our firm commitments under the agreement, including as regards sanctions-lifting for the benefit of the Iranian people. In this regard, we regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the United States, following its withdrawal from the JCPoA. Our support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), endorsed unanimously by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, goes hand in hand with our efforts to promote stability in the region. We remain committed to the preservation and full implementation of the JCPOA: a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime - which is in the security interest of all. And we are determined to work with the international community to achieve these goals.
We are also gravely concerned by Iran's ballistic missile activity and transfers of missiles and relevant technologies to State and non-States actors in the region. We call upon Iran to refrain from any activity inconsistent with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The EU supports a balanced, comprehensive approach with Iran, including dialogue, with a view to addressing all issues of concern, critical when there are divergences and cooperative when there is mutual interest. We are determined to continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran, including through the initiative by France, Germany and the United Kingdom to operationalise the special purpose vehicle INSTEX, which was registered as a private entity and which will support European economic operators engaged in legitimate trade with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
The freedom and security of maritime navigation in the Gulf is currently at stake. The European Union always supports the freedom of navigation, which is essential to all our economies. Everybody must fully respect international law, including notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that is rightly recognized widely as the constitution of the oceans, reflecting customary international law. The EU has called upon all actors in the Gulf region to exercise restraint. Prompt de-escalation is necessary to minimise the risk of miscalculation, which still remains high.
Also with respect to Iran, de-escalation and restraint are of fundamental importance. In recent high-level meetings in Iran, in Kuwait and other countries in the region, we underlined our concerns about the prevailing situation, and in turn, our partners have expressed their own determination to work to promote calm and stability.