|Chris Patten visits Egypt and Jordan to promote stability and reform in the region|
|Chris Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations, will visit Egypt and Jordan on 13-15th October for meetings with the highest representatives of both countries. Commissioner Patten's stay in Egypt and Jordan comes amidst crucial developments in the Middle East and with regard to Iraq.
It highlights the significant effort of the EU to promote stability in the region. Chris Patten will discuss in both countries the situation in the Middle East and underline the continuing strong commitment of the European Union to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Barcelona Process).
In Egypt, Commissioner Patten will emphasise the need for speedy ratification and implementation of the EU-Egypt Association Agreement and the European Commission's commitment to assist Egypt in preparing its economy for seizing the new oportunities arising from association with the EU. In Jordan, the Commissioner will sign a series of Financing Agreements, bolstering the country's economic reforms.
The EU is a key player in the Middle East as the biggest provider of non-military assistance and as the most important trading and investment partner. The EU is also actively engaged in international efforts promoting peace in the Middle East, notably as a member of the 'Quartet', together with the US, Russia and the UN. Chris Patten's visit to the region underlines the resilience of the Barcelona Process despite the currently difficult political context in the region.
In Egypt, the Commissioner will meet on 13-14th October with President Mubarak, Prime Minister Ebeid, Minister of Foreign Affairs Maher as well as other members of the Egyptian Government (in charge of trade, tourism, petroleum, industry, agriculture, education, finance and health). Furthermore, the visit will involve also meetings with the Secretary General of the Arab League Moussa and members of the People's Assembly.
Discussions in Cairo will focus on deepening the bilateral relations between Egypt and the EU. As a follow up to the signature of the Association Agreement with Egypt in Luxembourg on 25th June 2001, the Commissioner will emphasize the importance of early ratification of the agreement by both parties and reiterate the European Commission's commitment to assist Egypt in its efforts to modernise its economy in order to exploit new opportunities arising from improved access to the EU market. The Commissioner will encourage further progress in the Agadir process of sub-regional integration in view of the envisaged creation of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area by 2010. Chris Patten will also draw attention to the importance of human development in the Arab world with reference to the recent findings of the UNDP report on this subject.
The programme in Jordan from 14-15th October foresees an audience with King Abdullah II, as well as a meetings with Prime Minister Ragheb, Minister of Foreign Affairs Muashar, the President of the Senate Al Rifai and other ministers.
Chris Patten and the Jordanian Finance Minister Marto will sign EU-Jordan Financing Agreements for projects in support of Jordan's reform efforts, totalling some € 92 m . The grants are funded through the MEDA programme and are geared towards supporting public finance reform, implementing the Assocation Agreement, developing the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and promoting human rights. The Commissioner will also discuss with his Jordanian interlocutors further regional integration in the context of the Agadir process and offer European Commission support in this context. He will also raise matters linked to the promotion of human development in the context of the recent UNDP report.
The Commissioner is scheduled to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for 2002 under the 11th EU-UNRWA Convention (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), which had been signed on 9 October in Brussel for aid to Palestinian refugees. This represents 55m euros to be made available this year, as first allocation under the Convention covering the period 2002-2005 with 237m euros earmarked. UNRWA's goal is to promote the self-reliance of the refugee community by providing basic education, health and relief and social services.
Brussels,10 28 2002
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