New presidents seek European platform

26 January 2005

New presidents seek European platform

Following this week’s welcome accorded to the newly-chosen Presidents of the Ukraine and Georgia, SP Senator Tiny Kox wants to see an invitation extended by the Council of Europe to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Such a gesture by the Council of Europe’s forty-six member states would demonstrate their commitment to a rapid and peaceful end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

Senator Kox addressed his proposal to fellow Dutchman, Christian Democrat (CDA) Senator René Van der Linden, who was this week elected president of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, of which Kox is also a member.

The assembly met in the presence of representatives of both Israel and Palestine to discuss possible new opportunities for a breakthrough in the conflict between the two groups. Parliamentary delegations from both sides will shortly be invited for talks. According to Senator Kox, spokesman for the Confederal Group of the United European Left in the assembly, such an invitation is to be welcomed. However, any solution must begin by recognising that what is being discussed is an illegal, inhuman and internationally-condemned occupation of Palestinian territory by the Israeli army.

The SP Senator called on head of the Israeli government Ariel Sharon to cooperate with the Palestinian authorities to withdraw his troops and remove settlers from the Gaza strip, to recognise the decision of the International Court of Justice regarding the illegal “security wall” and to extend full rights of citizenship to all Palestinian residents of Israel, ending their treatment as second class citizens.

The Palestinians stressed their need for help from the Council of Europe in the development and functioning of the democratic process in their territory. They also requested equality with Israel in the form of permanent observers’ status at the international body.

The Parliamentary Assembly was also addressed by the new Presidents of Ukraine and Georgia, who used the occasion to outline their vision of the future. President Victor Yushchenko of the Ukraine struck a conciliatory tone in relation to his opponent in the recent disputed election, while Georgian President Mikheil Shaakaasvili spoke of his intention to restore the faith of the people in his country’s authorities through effective anti-corruption measures and democratic reforms. He was conscious that never again would he enjoy the support of the nine out of ten Georgians who had voted for him and that he must now justify this support through his performance in office. He also brought forward a new peace proposal for the rebellious region of South Ossatia, saying that violence had no place in a search for a solution.

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