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37th National Day - Foreign Policy

posted on 01/12/2008: 1391 views


The foreign policy of the United Arab Emirates, since it was founded in 1971, has been based on wisdom, moderation, balanced and support for righteousness and justice through dialogue and understanding with sister and friendly countries. It is also based on respect for international agreements and UN Charter, good neighbourliness, sovereignty and integrity of countries, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and solving of disputes by peaceful means.

The UAE's open policy to the outside world has led to the establishment of strategic partnership in the fields of politics, economy, trade, culture, science, education and health with many countries in various parts of the world, making the country to attain respectable position among the comity of nations.

The last 37 years have proven the effectiveness of this policy, which was initiated and adopted by the late UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, who led the UAE to the enviable position it enjoys today among the international community.

Perhaps the most expressive words of the success of this policy are those of President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, when he addressed UAE ambassadors and representatives to international and regional organizations abroad, during a meeting he held with them on September 9, 2008, in the presence of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Sheikh Khalifa said: "The success of the UAE's foreign policy is one of the country's most significant achievements. The successes were based on certain policies initiated and entrenched by the late founder and leader, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan." Sheikh Khalifa noted that a balanced and moderate policy, adopted by the UAE since the founding of the federation, on regional and international issues had won the country high reputation and worldwide respect, giving it the respectable voice it commands today in various international forums.

The UAE President urged the ambassadors to be true and worthy ambassadors of their country by reflecting the UAE's achievements in various fields. He said the UAE's open policy to the outside world in the areas of politics, economy and investment had added more responsibilities to their burden.

He urged them to interact positively to issues that may crop up in the areas of their mission. He said their positive interaction would contribute immensely in sustaining the UAE's strong and attractive foreign policy. He urged them to strive hard, during the course of discharging their duties, to deepen the existing UAE relations with the respective countries of their mission.

He said the UAE remained committed to maintaining the open-door approach to the outside world and continues to build bridges of friendship with other countries of the world through the signing of joint cooperation agreements and programmes to achieve mutual interest, adding that the UAE's open door policy, although is based on mutual respect, falls within the confines of international laws and legislations.

He pointed out that although the UAE is committed to open door policy with the outside world, it does not mean the country abandons its responsibilities of supporting just causes on the international arena. He said the UAE's foreign policy is based on permanent principles manifested in the country's commitment to all UN charters, international laws and establishing ties with all countries of the world on the basis of mutual respect, non interference in the internal affairs of other countries, resolving disputes by peaceful means, standing by the side of righteousness and justice in all issues and proactively contributing in efforts towards the establishment of international peace and stability.

Sheikh Khalifa stressed on the importance of the role of diplomatic missions in providing assistance to UAE citizens abroad. He reminded the diplomats that the UAE regards its human resources as its real wealth and remains the country's major target of every development programme and plan. "We continue to strive to utilize all our capabilities for the comfort, happiness and well-being of our people," Sheikh Khalifa added.

Meanwhile, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in his address to UAE ambassadors and representatives to international and regional organizations abroad, during a meeting he held with them, in the presence of Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said the UAE stretches its hand of generousity and peace to all countries and peoples of the world and continues to build bridges of love and friendship between the UAE people and other peoples of the world, particularly those in the poor countries of the world "to whom we remain committed, as leaders of this country, to reach out to through humanitarian initiatives that focus on health and education, being the major basic factors of social stability and means of livelihood for those peoples." He assured the diplomats that the UAE is well in all aspects. "We want the country to move forward faster on the development highway to the number one spot internationally," he said, adding that his government, by Allah's grace, had been able to lead the country to great achievements in the areas of modernity and administrative and financial development, as the country's strategic plan had become a reality which is being translated into action to be accomplished on time. "Every minister must now strive hard to accomplish his/her ministry's portion of the assignments now that we have given them full powers which would allow them to freely execute their works and innovations," he said.

Sheikh Mohammed urged all to put their hands on deck to push forward the wheel of UAE development and progress. "Our nation is moving forward. There is no room for complacency or failure," Sheikh Mohammed said, adding that what had been achieved now is just the tip of the iceberg.

He prayed to God the Almighty to assist him and all the other UAE leadership to continue to move successfully on the path of UAE founders, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, to keep the nation on course to achieve the objectives and realise the aspirations of the UAE people.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also reminded the diplomats, when he met them, about the role of diplomatic work in boosting relations of cooperation and friendship with the various countries and peoples of the world. He urged them to work hard to reflect to the world the good image of the UAE and its comprehensive development in all fields, and what the country embodies in terms of the good values of coexistence and tolerance to open the door wider for stronger cooperation with the countries of the world on the basis of friendship and mutual respect.

Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, praised the diplomats for the significant role they play in boosting bilateral relations between the UAE and the other countries of the world. He wished them success in their mission of boosting further bilateral ties between the UAE and the respective countries of their mission. He promised the diplomats his total support and assistance to make their mission a great success.

He urged them to intensify their meetings with and visits to other ambassadors and not to limit that to annual events. He also advised them to attend to the needs of UAE citizens abroad and not to hesitate in making useful proposals and suggestions that would serve the interest of UAE diplomacy.

He said experienced diplomats of the foreign ministry had enriched diplomatic performance. "We in the UAE have played effective roles in regional and international organisations. Our policy remains unchanged no matter the change in situation, persons or region. We handle our relations with other countries with great respect. We have many friends in the world and we look forward to boosting our ties with countries that are witnessing rapid growth and development, like India, China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa," he added.

He stressed the need to use the UAE's development, economic, trade and investment achievements to boost the country's diplomacy and status in the countries of service of the diplomats.

He also urged the diplomats to give priority to the private sector by promoting UAE businessmen in the countries of their service.

The year 2008 has witnessed intense diplomatic activities including exchange of visit between UAE officials and their counterparts from various parts of the world. The UAE received a number of world leaders and senior officials from many countries of the world, which makes the country an important hub for political consultations.

UAE and the GCC The UAE, being one of the founders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), remains committed to boosting and entrenching cooperation among member countries.

President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has pledged to continue to work closely with his brethren, leaders of other member countries, to enhance joint GCC actions and to boost the council's effectiveness by strengthening its political, economic, security and social integration.

The UAE together with other sister Arab states of the GCC, Arab League and other regional blocs, continue to work closely in support of diplomatic efforts being made to contain areas of tension and conflicts in the Middle East, including the Arab Gulf region. The UAE repeatedly renewed its call for the need to solve conflicts by peaceful means and the need to build trust on the basis of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. This stems from the country's belief in the need to sustain and protect regional and global peace and security.

The UAE remained committed to boosting the joint GCC march and actions by strengthening bilateral cooperation with other member countries through joint bilateral agreements, joint higher committee activities, regular consultations and exchange of visit at various levels to further boost the GCC strength.

President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan led the UAE delegation to a number of summits, including the 28th GCC Summit in the Qatari capital, Doha, on December 3, 2007, the 10th GCC Consultation Summit in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, on May 20, 2008, the 20th Arab Summit in Syrian capital, Damascus, on March 29th and 30th, 2008, while Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, also participated in the 108th GCC foreign ministers meeting in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah on September 2, 2008.

UAE's occupied islands Based on its deep belief in dialogue as the best means of resolving problems and conflicts between countries, the UAE continues to handle with great wisdom the issue of its three islands, Abu Musa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, being occupied by Iran since 1971. H.H. Sheikh Khalifa has urged Iran to respond positively to the UAE's peaceful overtures to resolve the issue. "Based on our deep belief in peaceful resolution of conflict between countries, we repeat our call to our Iranian neighbours to show goodwill by entering into direct negotiations with us to solve the problem of our three occupied islands or accept international arbitration by referring the issue to the International Court of Justice, where we are ready to accept the outcome of the ruling of the court whatsoever," Sheikh Khalifa said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has also stated in the UAE's address to the 63rd UN General Assembly on September 27, 2008, that Iran's continuous occupation of UAE's three islands of Abu Musa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs since 1971, remains the UAE's core issue. "We repeat, from this podium, our demand to regain total sovereignty over these islands, their territorial waters, air space, continental shelf and economic zones, as the islands remain an integral part of the UAE's national sovereignty ," Sheikh Abdullah stated in his address. He said all the military and administrative measures Iran continues to take on the islands since the occupation remain null and void, violate the UN charter and international laws, the principle of good neighbourliness and do not entails any legal effect no matter how long it takes.

Sheikh Abdullah urged the international community to call on Iran to respond positively to the sincere calls of the UAE, the GCC and Arab League to accept to resolve this issue through serious direct negotiations or international arbitration at the International Court of Justice.

The situation in Iraq The UAE was among the first countries to reach out to Iraq and continues to stand by the people of that sister country to overcome their plight. The UAE continues to support the political process in and reconstruction of Iraq, while hopefully looking on the efforts being made by the Iraqi government to achieve national unity and to consolidate security and stability in the whole parts of that country.

In view of the above, President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, when he received Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, on July 7, 2008, decided to cancel all debts Iraq owes the UAE, which amounts to over AED4 billion, in solidarity with that sister country. Sheikh Khalifa said the cancellation of the debt reflects the strong fraternal bond between the two countries and exhibits the UAE's solidarity with Iraq. He expressed the hope that the move would help alleviate the economic problems of the Iraqi people. He added that the UAE will not hesitate in providing all forms of assistance to Iraq.

He noted that the restoration of security in Iraq represents the cornerstone of Iraq's efforts towards the rebuilding of its institutions to enable it regain its status to play its effective role on the regional and international scenes. He cited the UAE's quick move to re-open its embassy in Baghdad to reflect the country's deep belief in continuous interaction with its Arab environment and all sister countries. He said the relative improvement in the security climate in Iraq was very encouraging step towards the success of the political process in Iraq.

He urged all Iraqi factions to rally round the legitimate Iraqi government, to eschew all forms of sectarian violence and get involved in the political process to enable Iraq regain its security and stability to play its political role effectively.

The UAE President's stance was also corroborated by a UAE statement delivered on September 27, 2008 by Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the 63rd UN General Assembly in New York, in which he stated that the UAE will never hesitate in supporting all regional and international efforts towards assisting the Iraqi government and people. He expressed the hope that the UAE's cancellation of the AED7 billion, which include monies Iraq owes the UAE plus accumulated interest, the re-opening of UAE embassy in Baghdad, would encourage all Iraqi factions to stop violence and get involved in the political process.

This message was echoed in UAE's address delivered by Foreign Ministry Assistant Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Dr. Tarik Ahmed Al-Heidan, to the 2nd International Conference on international pledge in support of Iraq, which was held in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, on May 30, 2008. More than 100 countries and organizations took part in the conference.

Al-Heidan stated that the UAE set the pace by hosting the first meeting of the preparation committee of the international Monetary Fund with Iraq in Abu Dhabi in September 2006. The meeting gave birth to the Abu Dhabi Declaration. The UAE also hosted in Abu Dhabi in February 2004 the IMF Donor Committee meeting on the reconstruction of Iraq, in addition to many other conferences aimed at providing support for Iraq.

He said, in addition to the above, the UAE also trained a large number of Iraqi diplomatic, police, administrative and financial cadres to boost their capacity, as part of cooperation agreement between the two countries, adding that UAE's assistance to Iraq, including humanitarian and charity projects, amounts to over US$100 million.

Middle East and Palestinian issue The UAE strongly believes that settling Middle issues cannot be by imposing status quo of occupation and building of settlements and besieging the Palestinian people, who are currently facing the worse humanitarian crisis ever as a result of Israeli atrocities of arbitrary killing of innocent Palestinians, destroying Palestinian properties and arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinians. The UAE also believes that the continuous Israeli aggression will rather aggravate violence leading to explosive security situation not only in the areas under Israeli occupation but also in the whole of the Middle East region.

In his address to the UN General Assembly, Sheikh Abdullah renewed the UAE's call to the UN to ensure a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction and this entails calling on Israel to order, to respect and implement all UN resolutions which demanded Israel opens its nuclear installations for IAEA inspection and to unconditionally ratify the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as done by other countries in the region. Sheikh Abdullah urged Iran to continue to cooperate with the IAEA and the international community to alley any fear or doubt about its nuclear programme. He also urged all parties to continue to pursue political and diplomatic approach, away from escalation or irresponsible reaction, in order reach peaceful agreement that will ensure security and stability for the countries and peoples in the region.

Sheikh Abdullah also reaffirmed the UAE's strong support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, including the final status negotiations, the outcome of the Annapolis conference but expressed worries about Israel's lack of seriousness in the negotiations. He urged the international community to bring pressure on Israel to lift its blockade off the Palestinian people and to implement all UN resolutions related to ending its occupation of all Arab and Palestinian lands, which the Jewish entity occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, the Golan Heights of Syria and some Lebanese lands. "This is in full implementation of the international legitimacy and resolutions, including the Road Map, the Arab Peace Initiative, the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital and the ensuring of peace for Israel," he stated.

UAE's support for ISF The UAE has expressed deep concern on the difficult situation and humanitarian sufferings being faced by the peoples of a number of Islamic countries, which requires political, humanitarian and development support from wealthy countries The UAE reiterated its commitment to continue to provide humanitarian, medical and development support to many Islamic countries.

On Sudan, Sheikh Abdullah praised the UN and the African Union (AU) for the great efforts they continue to exert to solve the crisis in Darfur. He urged the factions to end the dispute and conflict among them to reach political settlement of the problem within the framework of total commitment and respect for Sudan's sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and regional security.

To live to its commitment, the UAE donated US$2 million to the Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF) to enable the latter execute its programmes.

On Somalia, Sheikh Abdullah, in his address to the UN General Assembly, expressed the hope for intensified mediation efforts and regional and international support to stop the violence in Somalia. He said the UAE looks with satisfaction the positive development in its relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan, describing these relations as partnership which forms a major axis for the combating of terrorism.

On nuclear energy, the UAE said it believes in the right of countries to possess nuclear energy for peaceful purposes but at a limit approved by the IAEA. The UAE urges advanced countries to provide support for developing countries' legitimate need for nuclear energy by assisting them to acquire nuclear equipment, materials and technology for peaceful purposes. The UAE described its peaceful nuclear programme as a practical example in transparency as it remains committed to conducting any uranium enrichment and subjecting its programme to IAEA supervision.

Sheikh Abdullah's meetings in New York On September 30, 2008, Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, met in New York with a number of senior officials of many countries and discussed with them bilateral relations and their respective countries' stances on a number of regional and international issues. The senior officials include: US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, as well as Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan; Rashid Muredove, Foreign Minister of Bosnia Herzegovina, UN Secretary General Advisor for Iraq Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, Turkish Foreign Minister, Ali Babacan, Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, Pakistani Foreign Minister, Sudanese Foreign Minister, Ali Othman, Quartet Representative, Tony Blair and Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshiyar Zebari.

Others are: Afghan Foreign Minister, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Ecuadorian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Maria Isabel Salvador and EU Commissioner for External Relations, Beneta Ferrero-Waldner, Foreign Minister of Latvia, Maris Riekstins, Portuguese foreign minister, Luis Amado and Foreign Minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb.

Sheikh Abdullah also held bilateral talks with President of the Seychelles, James Michel and Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Sheikh Abdullah also met with the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and discussed with him stances on significant international issues, UAE's contributions to development, humanitarian and Emergency funds, in support of the efforts to improve the situation in poor and developing countries suffering from natural and man-made disasters in various parts of the world.

The UN Secretary General praised the UAE for its recent initiative of cancelling the debts owed it by Iraq and re-appointing an ambassador to Baghdad. He also expressed gratitude to the UAE for the latter's political support for the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations within the framework of the Annapolis understanding and for the UAE's generous contributions to the efforts to improve the lot of Palestinian refugees.

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