24th Jun 2017

Rome conference endorses UN force in Middle East

  • France joined UN chief Annan in a call for an immediate ceasefire (Photo: Ulla Sandbæk)

A high-profile international conference on the Middle East, attended by a top-level EU delegation, has under US pressure not called for an immediate ceasefire in the region - but has endorsed the idea of a peacekeeping force "under a UN mandate."

The extraordinary meeting in Rome, chaired by Italian foreign minister Massimo d'Alema, addressed the ongoing bloodshed between Israel and Islamist Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, with US foreign secretary Condoleezza Rice and UN secretary general Kofi Annan participating in the talks.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, as well as Lebanon itself, were also present at the talks and had lobbied for the final declaration of the text to include a call for an immediate cease-fire, according to press reports.

But the final Rome declaration only offers a watered-down version of this demand, stating "Participants expressed their determination to work immediately to reach, with utmost urgency, a ceasefire that puts an end to the current violence and hostilities. The ceasefire must be lasting, permanent and sustainable."

Ms Rice stressed after the talks that "we cannot return to the status quo ante" and that any ceasefire must be "sustainable this time," reflecting US demands that Israel should be given security guarantees against Hezbollah before a cease-fire.

The EU attended with a top delegation from both the EU institutions as well as individual member states.

Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja represented the bloc's current presidency and was accompanied by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana as well as external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

The EU's big three, France, Germany and the UK, also had a place around the table, as well as Mediterranean member states Spain, Greece and Cyprus.

The EU was itself divided at the meeting, with France joining UN chief Kofi Annan in calling for an immediate ceasefire while the UK was more in line with the US, according to press reports.

EU calls emergency meeting

The Finnish presidency has scheduled an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers next week on Tuesday (1 August), while member states' EU ambassadors will spend most of their time on the issue at a meeting tomorrow (27 July).

Member states have been more united in supporting a UN-led peace force which should secure the Israeli-Lebanese border in the near future.

The Rome meeting confirmed this plan, with the declaration saying "An international force in Lebanon should urgently be authorized under a UN mandate to support a Lebanese armed force to provide a secure environment.''

France's president Jacques Chirac in an interview on Wednesday (26 July) opposed the idea of a NATO-led peace force, amid reports that Jerusalem favours NATO over UN involvement.

"As far as France is concerned, it is not NATO's mission to put together such a force," Mr Chirac told the daily newspaper Le Monde. "Whether we like it or not, NATO is perceived as the armed wing of the west in these regions, and as a result, in terms of image, NATO is not intended for this."

The peacekeeping force is likely to be the one dominating topic at the EU meeting next week with EU top diplomat Solana saying "I cannot imagine the force without any Europeans".

"It is fundamental that some European countries will participate", he said.

EU extends sanctions on Russia

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Russia hadn't done enough to implement the so-called Minsk peace process, a condition for lifting the sanctions.

EU steps up global counter-terrorism drive

EU foreign ministers vowed to increase the number of projects and financial support in different parts of the world ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, where leaders will focus on security and defence.


EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit