The following is the full text of yesterday’s statement issued by the leaders of the 15 European Union nations:
“The European Council held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the crisis over Iraq. Its members also met with the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and the President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox.
“We reaffirm the conclusions of the (EU foreign ministers) of 27 January and the terms of the public demarche of 4 February to Iraq which remain valid.
“The way the unfolding of the situation in Iraq will be handled will have an important impact on the world in the next decades. In particular, we are determined to deal effectively with the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
“We are committed to the United Nations remaining at the center of the international order. We recognize that the primary responsibility for dealing with Iraqi disarmament lies with the (U.N.) Security Council. We pledge our full support to the Council in discharging its responsibilities.
“The Union’s objective for Iraq remains full and effective disarmament in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, in particular Resolution 1441.
“We want to achieve this peacefully. It is clear that this is what the people of Europe want.
“War is not inevitable. Force should be used only as a last resort. It is for the Iraqi regime to end this crisis by complying with the demands of the Security Council.
“We reiterate our full support for the ongoing work of U.N. inspectors. They must be given the time and resources that the U.N. Security Council believes they need.
“However, inspections cannot continue indefinitely in the absence of full Iraqi cooperation.
“This must include the provision of all the additional and specific information on the issues that have been raised in the inspectors’ reports.
“Baghdad should have no illusions: it must disarm and cooperate immediately and fully. Iraq has a final opportunity to resolve the crisis peacefully.
“The Iraqi regime alone will be responsible for the consequences if it continues to flout the will of the international community and does not take this last chance.
“We recognize that the unity and firmness of the international community, as expressed in the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1441 and the military build-up have been essential in obtaining the return of the inspectors.
“These factors will remain essential if we are to achieve the full cooperation we seek.
“We will work with the Arab countries and the League of Arab Nations. We will encourage them … to bring home to Saddam Hussein the extreme danger of miscalculation of the situation and the need for full compliance with Resolution 1442.
“We support Turkey’s regional initiatives with the neighbors of Iraq and Egypt.
“In this regional context, the European Union reiterates its firm belief in the need to invigorate the peace process in the Middle East and to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We continue to support early implementation of the roadmap endorsed by the quartet (the EU, the United States, Russia and the U.N.). Terror and violence must end. So must settlement activity. Palestinian reforms must be speeded up and, in this respect, (Palestinian) President (Yasser) Arafat’s statement that he will appoint a prime minister is a welcome step in the right direction.
“The unity of the international community is vital in dealing with these problems.
“We are committed to working with all our partners, especially the United States, for the disarmament of Iraq, for peace and stability in the region and for a decent future for all its people.”