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Minister Rupel chairs EU Ministerial Meeting – Gulf Cooperation Council

The exchange of information, the implementation of the cooperation agreement, an exchange of views on the Middle East, Iraq, and Iran, and a discussion on human rights, intercultural dialogue, terrorism, and non-proliferation – all these topics were discussed at the 18th GCC-EU Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting, which was held in Brussels today after the session of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council. The meeting was attended by EU foreign ministers, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, and European commissioners Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Peter Mandelson; the delegation of the Gulf states was composed of the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the GCC coordinator for negotiations with the EU. The meeting was chaired by the President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel.

The Joint Council is the highest body provided for under the cooperation agreement between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council. This year’s ministerial meeting particularly dealt with political dialogue. GAERC President Dimitrij Rupel outlined the EU’s commitment to political dialogue with the Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly in this period when the international community is facing difficult challenges in the Middle East. “This meeting offers the opportunity to discuss important global issues, e.g. human rights, the fight against terrorism and non-proliferation, as well as regional topics, such as Iraq, Iran, and the Middle East Peace Process,” stated Foreign Minister Rupel, who on this occasion commended Qatar for its efforts. Together with the Arab League, Qatar managed to overcome a standstill in Lebanon and organised the election of a new president in the country, as well as introducing political normalisation.

The Slovenian Foreign Minister informed the ministers about the recent activities in the EU, particularly relating to the Lisbon Treaty and the preparations for the June European Council. As regards the issue of human rights, the Minister noted that “the EU is founded on the values of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”, which are promoted within the European Security and Defence Policy. He emphasised that this year marked the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The EU advocates the UN system in this regard, and the Human Rights Council within the UN framework. Minister Rupel also expressed his wish to establish closer cooperation with the Gulf states in the area of human rights.

Various ministers on both sides took part in the discussion of other topics on the agenda. A joint communiqué was adopted at the end of the meeting which summarizes the main points of the discussion. In terms of cooperation, it devotes particular attention to climate change and energy; it also welcomes progress in negotiations on free trade. On the Middle East Peace Process, the communiqué calls upon Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate on the final status of the region, and emphasises that the objective of negotiations is to establish an independent and democratic Palestinian state, which will represent a step towards long-term peace. It also welcomes the initiative by Qatar to resolve the crisis in Lebanon and elect a new president of the country. On Iraq, it calls the Iraqi government to international reconciliation; it also ensures support to the government in the fight against violence and condemns crimes from the past regime.

The joint communiqué condemns all forms of terrorism and emphasises the importance of the fight against terrorism, taking into account international law. It states that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is one of the worst threats to peace and security. The ministers confirmed the respect for human rights and democratic principles, calling for their promotion. On intercultural dialogue, they remarked on the necessity of promoting the values of tolerance and moderation.


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Date: 27.05.2008