EU Names New Middle East Special Representative

BRUSSELS, March 17, 2015 (WAFA) – The European Union has named a new special representative for the Middle East ahead of efforts to re-launch the Middle East peace process.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini announced Monday evening that Fernando Gentilini, an Italian, has been appointed as a new special representative for the Middle East in the hope of getting the stalled peace process back to track as soon as possible.

Gentilini currently assumes the position of the director of the EU’s Western Europe, Western Balkans and Turkey division and assumed the positions of EU’s Special Representative to Kosovo as well as assistant to the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Policy in the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue.

Mogherini was quoted in international news outlets as saying: “We are looking very closely how to revive the role of the (Middle East) quartet, starting with the role of the European Union,” noting that the EU’s decision has no bearing on the role of Tony Blair as the Quartet Middle East Envoy.

She explained in a press release that ‘the appointment of a EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process underlines the EU’s determination to step up engagement in the MEPP.

‘Ferdinado Gentilini will work towards the resumption of meaningful negotiations with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on a two-state solution. He will work in close contacts with all major players, including the parties to the conflict, members of the Quartet, Arab states and relevant regional bodies.”

Picking the veteran Italian negotiator for this post followed a Financial Times report that Blair intends to relinquish his post while negotiate a different role yet within the Quartet.

Palestinian dailies reported this morning that Blair’s mission as the Middle East Quartet envoy is intended to be ‘reshaped’ following his deteriorating relationship with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

“Tony Blair’s responsibility focused on supporting the economic development of Palestinians. This is not the main focus we have. The main focus we have is the launch of the peace process,” Mogherini said.

Gentilini’s appointment highlights EU’s determination to successfully re-launch the peace process and in a meaningful manner in order to conclude a comprehensive peace deal based on the two-state solution. The Italian newly appointed EU representative is expected to make contacts with various main stakeholders, including parties to the conflict, Quartet members, Arab countries and relevant UN organizations.

Meanwhile, Peter Burian has been proposed as EU Special representative for Central Asia for an initial period of one year, with the task of ensuring continued EU high-level engagement in the region.

Burian is currently State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. He is a former ambassador of the Slovak Republic to NATO, to the United States and to the United Nations.

Burian takes over in the role of EUSR from Janos Herman, appointed Special Envoy to the region in 2014 following the resignation of EUSR Patricia Flor.

Mogherini said: ‘The appointment of Peter Burian will show the EU’s continued cooperation with Central Asia, ensuring strong presence in our engagement on key issues of mutual interest including the rule of law, security, energy, water, education and human rights. Central Asia is a strategic area. The EU also intends to continue to support the transition of neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, where much remains to be done in securing the democratic path’.