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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 17:12 GMT
Europe's hard-won Iraq unity - quotes

European Union leaders met on Monday in a hastily arranged effort to salvage some sense of unity on Iraq policy. They approved a common statement, but some candidate countries hit back after criticism from French President Jacques Chirac of their support for Washington's stance.

French President Jacques Chirac:

Now, of course I would not say to you that everything has been ironed out completely for all that, but it seems to me - time will tell - that this European mini-crisis has been overcome.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar:

The agreement is a demonstration of the sense of responsibility of the governments of the Fifteen [EU members] towards citizens, peace and international security.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder:

I'm pleased that it has become clear that there is a chance for peace. It has become clear that this is the wish of the European peoples... No time limits have been set, as this is a matter for the UN Security Council. In my view, it is a compromise one can live with. Of course, we too have had to make concessions.

Poland and other states in our region also have the right to decide what is good for them and France should respect it

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski:

The moment is a nervous one, various words are being said, but words are words and deeds are deeds - the meeting today is a deed and is a reply to all the doubts as to whether we need more cooperation or more division.

Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan:

I do not comprehend why Mr Chirac is not criticizing Italy, Spain or Portugal. After all, they said exactly the same. As for this standpoint or this position - he criticizes us, the candidate countries. I do not like it, and I think this way of marking us is not justified.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld:

Poland and other states in our region also have the right to decide what is good for them and France should respect it and show an interest in why this position is different from its own.

Romanian President Ion Iliescu:

[Chirac's] remarks are not appropriate, notably in the framework of democratic structures like the EU. It is without doubt one of those accidents that happen which should not be dramatized.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha:

There can be no talk about a change of Bulgaria's stand. Bulgarian relations with France are excellent.

No one can oblige us to be silent

Hungarian MP
Istvan Szent-Ivanyi

Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda:

We do not agree that Europe should be divided into an old and new Europe, more integrated or less integrated. Any division of Europe is not good...We don't agree with what was said about a childish Europe, that we were to use the time for remaining silent, because we are entering the EU so that we too can have a voice, speak and convey our opinions.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis:

To use Mr Chirac's word "family", well, all kinds of things happen within a family. We are used to having to defend one's interests in the European Union. However, I think that in this case, a meaningful compromise has been reached, which seems to merge the positions of the UK and France into one.

Istvan Szent-Ivanyi, chairman of Hungarian parliament's EU Integration Affairs Committee:

From the outset, our position has been that Europe and the United States can give an effective answer to the challenge posed by Iraq only together... At the same time, I would like to say emphatically that we maintain the right of the Hungarian Republic to express a position which serves the country's interest. No-one can oblige us to be silent.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

09 Nov 02 | Media reports
16 Feb 03 | Country profiles
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