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Foreign Policy - National day 2001

posted on 30/11/2001: 1906 views

Since its creation on December 2, 1971, the federation of United Arab Emirates, under the wise leadership of President H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, has adopted a balanced foreign policy that is characterized by moderation and support of the right and justice. This policy is based on dialogue with brotherly and friendly nations, respect of international laws and conventions, compliance with the UN charter, non interference in other countries' internal affairs, observing good neighbourliness, respecting other countries sovereignty over their own territories and resolving disputes through peaceful means. This was clearly expressed by Sheikh Zayed when he says 'As heads of states, we should deal with each others on the basis of tolerance, forgiveness and dialogue, not confrontation, war and destruction. Small countries should do what they can to support the cause of right and justice, even if that clashed with the superpowers' points of view.'

The President Sheikh Zayed has never ceased to defend the just causes worldwide including the rights of Palestinian and Iraqi peoples. The UAE would have not reached that respectable status worldwide during the past 29 years had it not been for the profound belief in extending hands of friendship and co-operation with all countries of the world and working hard to instil the spirit of forgiveness and noble human values so the world can enjoy security, stability and co-existence between its peoples. Such values are embodied when Sheikh Zayed says, 'the pillars of our policy are to do what please Allah the Almighty. Our foreign relations are strictly dependent on mutual respect with all countries.'

The UAE Constitution has set the salient features upon which the country's foreign policy is based. It states that the federation of UAE is part of the Arab World to which, it is linked with the bonds of common faith, language, history and destiny. One of the most important objectives of the federation is to establish links between the UAE and all brotherly and friendly UN member countries on the basis of mutual respect and interests.

Since its creation up to now, the UAE has never deviated from the principles it follows in foreign policy. This is evident in its distinctive relations with all Arab, Islamic and friendly countries. Since his accession as Ruler of Abu Dhabi on August 6, 1966, Sheikh Zayed started his endeavours to build a sound foreign policy for the federal body he was envisaging, a dream that came true five years later. Reflecting on his deep belief in unity as the best source of strength, Sheikh Zayed says 'our belief in national, GCC, Arab and Islamic unity is unshakable and beyond any doubt. We do have all the elements (for such a unity) including common destiny, goal, language, heritage and faith.' 'People accuse me of being a unionist, a charge that I do not deny but I do not impose it on others.'

Based on his infinite belief in unity, Sheikh Zayed worked hard with his brothers, leaders of the fellow Arab Gulf countries to form the Gulf Co-operation Council, which was declared on May 25, 1981 in Abu Dhabi. 'The GCC is an important step to enhance joint co-operation between the Arab Gulf countries to fulfil aspirations of their peoples. We do believe that any co-operation between the Gulf countries is for the benefit of the Arab nation in general and the Arab League in particular,' says Sheikh Zayed.

The GCC foreign policy, according to Sheikh Zayed, is based on two parallel tracks, as Arab and Islamic countries are considered brotherly according to the teachings of Islam. 'On the other track,' he goes on, 'We base our relations on the ground that we are part of this vast world and we respect its people the same way they respect us.' Sheikh Zayed never ceases to reiterate adherence to principles of good neighbourliness, amity and peaceful methods for resolving disputes. 'We always seek to establish ties with our neighbours that is based on complete understanding and brotherly bonds. We can never seek to harm our neighbours and friends,' he notes. 'If we have a dispute or a misunderstanding with a neighbouring or friendly country, we pray to Allah the almighty to endow us with patience and ability to reach a common ground without harming the two countries' interests or resorting to armed conflict.'

From that wise point of view, the UAE built its wise approach towards the continuation of Iranian occupation of its three islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb and its repeated calls for ending this occupation peacefully, either through direct negotiations or by referral to the International Court of Justice. The UAE also hopes that the visit made by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs to Tehran on July 23, 2001, and the visit by Mohammed Ali Abtahi, head of the Iranian President's office, to Abu Dhabi on August 6, 2001 will help in finding a peaceful solution to the issue of Iran's occupation of the three Islands and in strengthening mutual trust, peaceful co-existance and good- neighbourliness.

As part of his sincere and courageous stances, President Sheikh Zayed strongly condemned the terrible and criminal acts that took place in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. In a telephone conversation with U.S. President George Bush on September 17, 2001, Sheikh Zayed reaffirmed to the American President the consistent policy of the UAE of opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, saying that 'terrorism is repugnant to Islam and to other divinely-revealed religions' and that it is 'a mortal enemy of humanity as a whole.' enemy of humanity as a whole.' The UAE President told his American counterpart that terrorism requires solidarity in the international community, so as to eradicate terrorism wherever it is found. He also reaffirmed the readiness of the United Arab Emirates to co-operate in fighting terrorism, in accordance with its long-stated policy on this matter.

The UAE President, in conclusion, emphasised that international solidarity against terrorism should be firmly grounded in basic principles, with no question of double standards. He added that the United States and the international community should also work, at the same time, to bring about an end to the Israeli terrorist acts in the occupied Palestinian territories, so that people around the world do not perceive any element of injustice.

In his message to leaders of NATO member states, the Russian Federation and China, on September 16, 2001, delivered on his behalf by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Zayed said, 'there should be a direct move and a strong international alliance to eradicate terrorism, and all those who provide assistance to it or harbour it.' Sheikh Zayed had also expressed the UAE's 'condemnation of the daily and continuous acts of terrorism being committed by Israeli occupation forces in the occupied Palestinian territories against the unarmed Palestinian people.'

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs also noted that the President also believed that there should be a strong international alliance that worked, in parallel, to exert real and sincere efforts to bring about a just and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict. 'The President says it loud and clear,' the Minister added, quoting him as saying, 'The Arabs and the Islamic world cannot accept what is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories - the daily killings, deportations and destruction. All of this is politically and morally unacceptable.' 'We request all leaders to work in full frankness on the two tasks in parallel and at the same time, thus working for the achievement of a just and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict, based upon the application of international legitimacy and enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination, to an end of occupation, and to establish their own independent state on their territory with Jerusalem as its capital.' Sheikh Zayed said. 'There will be no permanent peace,' he noted, unless this is done, he concluded.

In a speech at the UN General Assembly, the UAE expressed support for the United States and other international efforts aimed at hunting down the perpetrators of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States. Foreign Minister Rashid Abdullah expressed the UAE's readiness to take part in any concerted international efforts against all kinds of terrorism including terrorism committed by groups, extremist and racist organisations and state terrorism. Abdullah called upon the international community to increase humanitarian assistance to the Afghani people that suffered from two decades of war and was now facing the most dangerous and largest refugee crisis. As part of Sheikh Zayed's directives and instructions of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, a delegation from the UAE Red Crescent Society, RCS, toured Afghanistan last month and provided more than 900 tonnes of foodstuff, medicines to Afghan people. On the issue of Iraq, the UAE has always called for alleviating the suffering of Iraqi people and has always stressed the necessity of maintaining Iraq's sovereignty and unity of its territories.

At the same time, the UAE urges Iraq to fully comply with the Security Council's resolutions pertinent to its invasion of Kuwait, including release of all Kuwaiti and other POWs. The UAE has exerted all efforts to support the Palestinian cause in various events worldwide, especially since the beginning of Al Aqsa uprising on September 28, 2001. President Sheikh Zayed linked the issue of fighting terrorism following the September 11 in the United States to the necessity of world confrontation to the terrorism committed by Israel against the Palestinian people. In a meeting with US Mideast envoy William Burns, Sheikh Zayed condemned Israel's continued aggression on the defenceless Palestinian people. 'At a time Israel unleashes its lethal weapons against the Palestinian people who have nothing else but stones, we see the U.S. unable to rein in Israel,' Sheikh Zayed told the U.S. envoy. Sheikh Zayed said that the U.S. administration was required to be exemplary in its leadership and patronage of peace and to be more reasonable and balanced in its positions. He said ' The U.S. should stop the terrorism, aggression and barbaric crimes committed by Israel and to intensify its efforts to restore peace and security.' Sheikh Zayed added that it was also a political and moral obligation on the U.S to show hope to the Palestinians that the naked aggression against them would stop.

The UAE has always called on the international community to immediately interfere to halt the organised Israeli genocide of the Palestinian and Arab peoples. The UAE asked the U.N. general assembly to work on imposing the respect of the Palestinians' legitimate rights in self- determination and in establishing their independent state, with Jerusalem as its capital. The UAE also urged the return of the Palestinian refugees in accordance with the international resolutions and the principle of land for peace.

Emanating from his belief on the common goals and destiny between Arab countries, Sheikh Zayed has mobilized all efforts to see the Arab nation united and strong. Sheikh Zayed sought to eliminate inter-Arab disputes and repeatedly called for holding Arab summit on annual basis. d Lesser Tunbs.

In a letter to King Abdullah II of Jordan on March 27, 2001, who presided over the first Arab ordinary Summit session which took place in Amman, Sheikh Zayed reiterated the UAE's firm commitment to work for the consolidation of Arab solidarity. It was my sincere wish that I would be able to participate in this gathering of the Arab summit, which is the first of the regularly scheduled annual Arab summit conferences. I am following, with great interest, the sessions of the conference, and I am satisfied and happy because that which we have been calling for has been achieved. Sheikh Zayed said. The spirit of understanding and brotherhood which has prevailed during your sessions and discussions has brought me great satisfaction. Your serious deliberations on the key issues on your agenda have proved that sincere intentions and frankness are the way for us to achieve success.

On this occasion, I would like to assure you that my position is the same as yours. It is a position that is based on solidarity, cohesiveness and a unity of approach. Dialogue is essential between brothers, and we are happy because the Arabs recognise the correct path to follow towards reconciliation and solidarity, and to surmount the negative elements and mistakes of the past, in order to move away from divisions and rifts between them. We will be accountable to Almighty God if we do not shoulder our responsibilities towards our nation and peoples. We strongly support you in all your efforts to rebuild Arab solidarity and, in that context, we support all resolutions that would strengthen joint Arab action. Sheikh Zayed said. The UAE keeps using all international platforms to stress the need of dismantling all weapons of mass destruction and to halt arms race for a better future to the world and repeatedly re-iterated that Israel's ownership of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons represents a direct threat to regional and international security.

While addressing the UN General Assembly, Rashid Abdullah noted that despite unanimity on the need to end proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear ones, the UAE is still concerned that efforts to bring this goal about, are being taken on the slow pace while some countries have joined the hectic race of amassing nuclear and ballistic missiles to address their regional disputes. The UAE urged these countries to end armament race and to end their regional disputes through peaceful means. The UAE referred to the growing trends of war and ethnic cleansing in some parts of Africa, Balkans, and South East Asia.

The UAE renewed its support to regional and international efforts to put an end to the disputes peacefully. The UAE welcomed the recent visit of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to India, expressing hope for the development of relations between the two countries and to reach a just and permanent solution to their problems.

The UAE has also raised the issue of global economic integration, saying that the step was posing daunting challenges to development in the third millennium as it affects the socio-economic structure, stressing that a transparent political leadership is needed to deal with both opportunities and dangers of economic globalisation. The UAE stresses the necessity of adopting more developed policies and institutions that are capable of driving globalisation toward serving interests of the whole humanity, calling for a steady flow of capitals into economies of the least developed countries with continued support for achieving sustainable development.

The UAE enjoys full diplomatic relations at the Ambassadorial levels with 143 countries. The UAE broke diplomatic ties with the ruling Taliban of Afghanistan, on September 22 after rejecting the international efforts to combat terrorism. This year, the number of resident embassies in Abu Dhabi reached 69, compared to only three embassies, namely Britain, Pakistan and the United States, in 1971,whilethe number of consulate in Dubai reached 52. There are also 35 non-resident embassies. The country also hosts five offices of regional and international organizations. The UAE has 44 embassies abroad, two permanent missions in New York and Geneva and seven consulates. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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