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Question: Would you make a better envoy than Tony Blair?

Gerry Adams: I don’t put myself in any sort of position of comparing myself with anyone else. We help in a modest way.

I have been to the Middle East. I spoke just last month [ September 2007] to the Israeli ambassador to Britain. Mark McGinnis was in Sri Lanka and tried to help there. He also chaired with Ralph Meyer from South Africa a conference in Helsinki last month with people from Iraq.

I’ve been fairly heavily involved in what’s now a field process, or at least a process which has been abandoned for some time. And the Spanish-Basque dispute.

So in a very modest way, we can help. We help, but you can’t intrude. You can’t interfere. And there’s also, believe it or not, a whole industry as built up around conflict resolution. Some of it may be well meaning. Some of it may be less well meaning – self-perpetuating to a certain extent.

I know from my own experience that there was nothing worse than do-gooders who come in and thought they had all the answers, and who come in with only a superficial knowledge of what was required. So if we can help in any of these processes, we will. But the calculation will be that we can be of benefit, and that we can advance negotiated settlements as a means of resolving conflicts.

If people of Israel cannot do anything they want to – whatever the government and the military people may think – cannot wipe out the people of Palestine. And the people of Palestine cannot wipe out the people of Israel. So there has to be a negotiated approach.

Without appearing too long winded or folksy, if there’s a dispute in your family and you don’t talk, and you know then people get alienated, and then people take up fixed positions, and then other people get involved. But if somebody comes in and says, “Hi. Come here. You know that’s your brother. That’s your sister. That’s your husband. That’s your wife. That’s your children. Sit down and talk about it. Listen to what they have to say.”

 

Recorded on: Oct 8, 2007

 

An Envoy for Peace

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