German diplomat named EU Middle-East envoy
Andreas Reinicke is poised to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process
4 February, 2012A veteran German diplomat was named the new EU special representative for the Middle East peace process by the EU Foreign Ministers. Andreas Reinicke took up his new position on 1 February formally inheriting Belgian Mark Otte, whose mandate, however, has expired almost a year ago. He will serve at his new position until 30 June 2013. Currently ambassador of Germany in Syria, Reinicke is a diplomat of more than 25 years' experience and has devoted most of his career to the Middle East. Before his nomination in Damascus he headed the Euromed and Middle East department of the German foreign ministry, and had also been stationed at both the embassies in Tel Aviv and Ramallah for a certain period.Reinicke will have the role of EU envoy in the Quartet, consisting of the US, the EU, the UN and Russia, for the Middle East. Until now, the role had been entrusted on a temporary basis to Helga Schmid, the deputy secretary general of the European diplomatic service in charge of "political affairs". According to the conclusions at the meeting of Foreign Ministers, the new EU representative will have the task of "contributing to meeting the targets of EU policy in the region, which include peace, the two-state solution and a solution to conflicts between Israelis and Syrians and between Israelis and the Lebanese."The EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Catherine Ashton, welcomed the appointment of Reinicke, saying that it "underlines our heightened commitment towards the Middle East peace process," and calling him "a diplomat of great experience and with great knowledge of the Middle East." In this peace process, Ashton concluded, "together with his Quartet partners, he has a key role to play in efforts to bring back to the negotiating table all parties involved." Reinicke's appointment came on the eve of a visit by Ashton to Israel and the Palestinian territories, hoping to convince both sides to return to the negotiating table. The EU has recently angered Israel over leaked EU reports criticising the continuing construction of settlements in Palestinian territories.