24 February, 2003
Speaking at a press conference following a meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on Monday, the President of the Council, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou restated the joint position adopted by the EU Member States on the issue of Iraq.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud, current chairman of the Arab League, were invited to attend the meeting.
Papandreou said that the EU and the Arab League, following an exchange of views on the issue of Iraq, were sending a clear message to Saddam Hussein that he must comply with UN Security Council resolution 1441. He reiterated that war was not inevitable, but a last resort.
Papandreou also clarified that the «15» were asking for more but not unlimited time for the UN weapons inspectors, so that they can continue their work. He underlined that the UN was the driving force for the peaceful resolution of the crisis.
Replying to questions on the submission of a new resolution and the different views among EU Member States, Papandreou said that the dialogue had been shifted to within the Security Council.
On the situation in the Middle East, Papandreou said that the EU and the Arab League were underlining the need for adoption and implementation of the ‘road map’ put forward by the Quartet (USA, EU, UN, Russia).
Papandreou also briefed his European counterparts on the first results of the electronic poll organised on the initiative of the Greek Presidency, concerning the main issues facing the EU.