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GCC Summit in Retrospect

posted on 15/12/2005: 1464 views

The UAE Capital is all set for receiving the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council "GCC" who will gather for the 26th summit, to be convened here on the 18th of this month. It was Abu Dhabi that had hosted the first summit in May 1981. Since then, the GCC leaders held 25 regular summits that dealt with means of bolstering cooperation and integration in the political, economic, social, cultural, information, environmental, military, security and other spheres. They also monitored the various developments in the GCC, Arab, Islamic, and international levels.

The First Summit: The first summit, held in Abu Dhabi on May 25-26, 1981, saw the birth of the GCC as a regional entity that aimed at enhancing cooperation and strengthening ties among the member states. The leaders set economic integration and social cohesion as their ultimate goals.

Having asserted that the responsibility for the Gulf Region rests with the GCC countries, the leaders rejected all forms of foreign intervention in the Region and maintained that keeping it aloof from international strife was in the best interest of the Region and the world at large.

They stood in favour of efforts that were being exerted to put an end to the Iraqi-Iranian war, which put the region's security in jeopardy and raised the potential of foreign intervention.

The leaders voiced adherence to the Arab League charter, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the non-alignment principles, and to the United Nations' Charter. They named Mr. Abdulla Bushara as Secretary General of the Council and Riyadh as its permanent seat.

The Abu Dhabi Declaration, issued by the first summit, maintained that the creation of the Council was dictated by historical, social, cultural, economic, political and strategic imperatives. The Declaration enumerated the resolutions adopted by the leaders to boost cooperation and coordination among the member states.

The Second Summit: At the second summit, held in Riyadh on November 10-11, 1981, the leaders adopted the Unified Economic Pact (UEP), which aimed at removing barriers between member states and gearing all resources for the wellbeing and prosperity of the GCC people. At that summit, the defence ministers of the member states were asked to define the GCC security requirements.

On the situation in the Gulf Region, the Council reiterated its rejection of the super powers' interference attempts and called for alienating the region from international conflicts. On the situation in the Middle East, the Council reviewed reactions to the peace principles put forward by Saudi Arabia and decided to place this matter on the agenda of the 12th Arab Summit to be held in Morocco, with a view to adopting a unified Arab stance on the Palestinian cause.

The Third Summit: At this Summit, held in Manama, Bahrain, on November 9-11, 1982, the Council endorsed the GCC Defence Ministers' recommendations that called for enhancing the military strength of member states and boosting coordination amongst them. On the economic arena, it approved the establishment of the Gulf Investment Corporation, with a capital of US$2.1 billion.

Politically, the Summit reviewed developments of the Iraqi-Iranian war and the Arab-Israeli conflict, and reiterated its support of the resolutions of the 12th Arab Summit held in Fez, Morocco.

The Fourth Summit: The 4th Summit, held in Qatar on November 7-9, 1983, reviewed the progress of military coordination and in this context praised the "Peninsula Shield" exercises, conducted on the UAE soil, as a demonstration of the Region's resolve to protect its independence and territorial integrity.

On the economic side, the Council decided to expand the list of business activities that citizens of member states will be permitted to exercise in other member states, effective March 1984. Politically, the Summit backed the International Security Council's resolution of October 31, 1983, which called for cessation of military operations in the Gulf. It offered to resume the reconciliation efforts exerted by the UAE and Kuwait on behalf of the Council. It also sent emissaries to Syria in a bid to put an end to the bloody strife between Palestinian factions. The Council expressed support for the Lebanese reconciliation conference in Geneva and welcomed the positive developments in the bilateral relations between the Sultanate of Oman and the Yemen Democratic Republic.

The Fifth Summit: The 5th Summit, held in Kuwait on November 27-29, 1984, noted with satisfaction the progress made toward implementation of the Unified Economic Pact, notably the remarkable increase in the volume of inter-GCC trade exchange. The Council mandated its Secretariat General to explore means for encouraging joint ventures and delegated its Ministerial Council to adopt a development and integration strategy.

Noting with concern the security threats posed by the Iraqi-Iranian wart, the Council lauded Iraq's positive response to the UN resolutions and the mediation efforts of the OIC and the Non-Aligned States, and called on Iran to react positively to these efforts in order to reach a fair settlement.

The Sixth Summit: The 6th Summit, held in the Sultanate of Oman on November 3-6, 1985, approved a number of strategies and common policies covering agriculture, industrial development, environment protection, and education.

This Summit also saw the ratification of a GCC security strategy, adopted in response to escalating terror acts in the Region. Economically, the Council reviewed progress of implementation of the Unified Economic Pact and commissioned the Ministerial Council to tailor a timetable for implementing it.

Noting with concern the serious escalation of the Iraqi-Iranian war, the Council reiterated its keenness to exert all efforts for putting an end to this devastating war. On the Arab level, the Council condemned the Zionist aggression against Tunisia and the premises of the PLO there.

It reaffirmed its support of Lebanon's unity, stability and territorial integrity.

The Seventh Summit: The 7th Summit, held in Abu Dhabi, adopted significant measures for boosting economic integration. These included permitting GCC nationals to take loans from banks and industrial development funds in member states on equal footage with the nationals of the host country, effective from March 1987, and permitting GCC nationals to engage in retail wholesale trade in any member state effective March 1987 and March 1990, respectively. Militarily, the Council noted with satisfaction the achievements of the "Peninsula Shield" Force which symbolized the determination of the member states to stand as one unit. Economically, it lauded the progress made toward implementing the UEP according to a set time table. The Council also approved an information code of conduct and a unified information policy. Politically, the Council reviewed the developments of the Iraqi-Iranian war and praised Iraq's positive response to calls for a peaceful settlement.

It called all sisterly Arab states to resolve their inter-conflicts.

The Eighth Summit: The 8th Summit, held in Riyadh, on September 26-29, 1987, approved a GCC security strategy and sanctioned the GCC Defence Ministers' recommendations on military cooperation. Economically, the Council reviewed the pace of implementation of the UEP and adopted additional measures to further boost it. The Leaders commissioned their Ministerial Council to go into economic cooperation negotiations with the European Community.

It expressed concern at Japan's intention to impose taxes on imported crude oil and petroleum product, an act seen as a jeopardy to free world trade. Politically, the Council reviewed the developments of the Iraq-Iran war, the Makkah events, and Iran's aggression against Kuwait. It reiterated its unequivocal support of the Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories.

The 8th Summit issued an economic declaration which echoed the member states' determination to expedite the set up of a GCC Common Market, by standardizing custom tariffs vis-a-vis the outside world. The Council welcomed the growth of inter-GCC trade exchange following abolishment of custom duties on agricultural, animal and industrial products of national origin, and giving priority to products of national origin. The Council also noted with satisfaction that a set of practical measures had been implemented, which allowed citizens of member states to engage in various economic activities within the GCC, and to have access to scores of educational, social, health, monetary and labour services.

The Ninth Summit: The 9th Summit approved measures for encouragement of new national industries, encouragement of industrial enterprises, and a regional contingency plan for petroleum products. It also permitted GCC citizens to acquire shares in joint stock firms, and to treat them on equal footing with citizens of the host country in terms of taxation and access to health services. The Council also approved the recommendations of the Defence Ministers and the Ministerial Council on military and security cooperation, and sanctioned the agreement concluded in Luxemburg on June 15, 1988 between the GCC and the European Economic Community (EEC). It commissioned the Ministerial Council to negotiate a trade deal with the EEC. As regards the oil market, the Council underlined the need for cooperation between OPEC members and other producers to ensure stable prices.

The Council discussed the security situation following Iran's accession to the Security Council resolution 598 of July 1987. It also reviewed the developments in the occupied territories, the UN General assembly's resolutions on Palestine, the commencement of the US-PLO dialogue, and the situation in Lebanon.

The Manama Declaration, issued by the Summit, lauded the progress toward implementation of the UEP and called for more efforts to accelerate the pace of integration. The Declaration also called for expediting the standardization of custom tariffs.

The Tenth Summit: Held in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, on December 18-21, 1989, this Summit called for further steps to implement the remaining aspects of the UEP, leading to the creation of a GCC common market. It approved the recommendations of the GCC Defence Ministers on building military strength based on the Defence Policy Document. Politically, the Council discussed the progress of peace talks between Iraq and Iran, and other regional and international issues.

The Muscat declaration stressed that GCC member states' foreign policy should be built on good neighborliness, mutual respect of territorial sovereignty, and peaceful coexistence. It backed efforts toward reaching a peaceful settlement for the Iraqi Iranian conflict and lauded the detente policy observed by the two super powers.

The Eleventh Summit: The 11th Summit, held in Doha, on September 22-25, 1990, was overshadowed by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, thus threatening other member states. The Council vigorously denounced Iraq's aggression and vowed to resist it "since the security of the GCC is inseparable and an aggression against any member state is an aggression against all the other members".

The Council approved the recommendations of the Defence Ministers on upgrading defence capabilities. It agreed to support the economic development programme of Arab and Islamic countries and to establish a fund for this purpose.

Politically, the Council reviewed regional and international issues and welcomed the emergence of a unified Germany.

The Twelfth Summit: The 12th edition of the Summit, held in Kuwait during 23-25 December, examined developments in the Gulf region in the wake of Kuwait's liberation war and appraised a decade of joint action at political, security, military, economic and social domains.

The leaders reiterated their determination to continue coordination and cooperation in upgrading the defensive capabilities of their countries through a unified strategic perception. They also endorsed the set up of a plan to support the economic development efforts of other Arab states.

The Kuwait Summit further expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the Madrid Peace Conference, but voiced regret over the stumbling of bilateral talks, which started in Geneva in December 1991.

On Lebanon, the GCC leaders called for full and unconditional implementation of UN Security Council's resolution No 425 and withdrawal of the Israeli troops from South Lebanon. They also reaffirmed their support for the International Fund for the Reconstruction and Development of Lebanon.

The Thirteenth Summit: In its 13th Summit in Abu Dhabi on 21-23 December 1992, the GCC Supreme Council confirmed its full backing of the UAE in its pursuance through peaceful means of regaining sovereignty over its Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Mousa islands.

The Council then expressed satisfaction over the resolution by the Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee of a standard customs tariff and gradual application of the same. During the 1992 edition of the Summit, Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi was appointed Secretary General of the GCC for three years to come in succession to Abdullah Yaqoub Bishara.

The Abu Dhabi Declaration issued by the Summit espoused dialogue and negotiation as a key instrument of settling disputes between nations.

The Fourteenth Summit: In their 14th meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during 20-22 December 1993, the Gulf leaders sanctioned all recommendations set forth by defence ministers at the forefront of which was the possibility of upgrading the Peninsula Shield Force. The Council then decided to set up a higher panel to follow the implementation of resolutions pertinent to collective defence and military cooperation.

On the Middle East peace process, the Council welcomed the signing of the accord of principles between the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel, regarding it as a first step towards reaching a fair, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Fifteenth Summit: The 15th conference in Manama during 19-21 December 1994 made great strides as far as building of a self-defence force was concerned.

On economy, the meeting instructed the respective ministerial councils to look into ways to raise the contribution of the national industry in the economy and encourage purchases by national industries of raw materials and intermediary commodities and services produced by member states. It called for practical measures to be adopted toward standardizing corporate laws in order to facilitate joint ventures and enhancing performance of GCC banks.

Politically, the Council welcomed Iraq's decision to recognize Kuwait's sovereignty as a positive step. It also discussed GCC relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and its continued occupation of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa Islands. Expressing appreciation of the UAE willingness to reach a bilateral settlement to the conflict, the Council urged Iran, which rejected the UAE call, to refer the matter to the International Court of Justice.

The Sixteenth Summit: The 16th Summit, held in Muscat during December 4-6, 1995, approved recommendations for establishment of a GCC power grid . It also approved recommendations for streamlining banking activities with a view to improve competitiveness of GCC banking institutions.

At this edition, Jamil Al Hujailan was named as GCC Secretary General succeeding Fahim Al Qassimi who completed his term.

Politically, the Council discussed the Mideast peace process, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorism and freeing the Middle East from weapons of mass destruction.

The Seventeenth Summit: The 17th Edition, held in Doha during December 7-9, 1996, focused on Iran's occupation of the UAE islands. It voiced concern over Iran's failure to respond to repeated calls by the UAE, the GCC, the Arab League and the Arab Summit for a peaceful settlement. It denounced Iran's aggression as a flagrant violation of the UAE territorial integrity that jeopardized the Region's security. It also voiced concern at Iran's deployment of missiles in the GCC, particularly in the three islands, and its persistent endeavour to build up weapons of mass destruction and unconventional weapons that far exceeded its legitimate defence needs. On economy, the Council decided to unify custom tariffs and establish a customs union. The Council stressed that the Iraqi government were to blame for the ordeals and sufferings of its people.

The Eighteenth Summit: The 18th Summit, held in Kuwait from December 20-22, approved recommendations by the GCC defence ministers on practical measures to enhance inter-GCC military communication. It also approved recommendations by Interior Ministers for facilitating flow of citizens and commodities.

It also gave the go-ahead for implementation of phase one of the GCC power grid. On legislations, it ratified the Unified Civil Code and the Unified Penal Code, both derived from the Islamic Sharia. It welcomed efforts aimed at localization of jobs and facilitating flow of national labour between member states. On environment, the Council approved three regulations for wildlife preservation, handling of radioactive substances, and waste management.

Politically, the Council reviewed Iraq's implementation of Security Council resolutions, Iran's occupation of UAE islands, the Mideast peace process, terrorism, and elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

The Nineteenth Summit: The 19th summit, held in Abu Dhabi between 7 and 9 November 1998, saw an extensive international attendance with the list of guest participants including Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr Esmat Abdul Maguid, former Secretary General of the Arab League and Izzeldin Laraki, former Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Conference.

French President Jacques Chirac addressed the summit via satellite, praising the deep-rooted ties of friendship between the GCC countries and his country and appreciating the role played by the council in international sphere.

The summit, dubbed 'the forum in preparation for the next millennium', tackled issues relating to bolstering cooperation between member countries.

It was decided during that summit to hold a consultation meeting, ahead of the forthcoming summit. The GCC leaders also gave the green light to formation of the advisory bureau for the GCC supreme Council which was assigned with studying means to provide job opportunities to GCC citizens and to ease their movement in the member countries.

At the end of the summit, the "Abu Dhabi Declaration" was issued. The document confirmed GCC's determination to enhance pan-Arab relations in a way that will revive Arab solidarity and joint action.

The Twentieth Summit: Riyadh played host to the 20th summit between 27 and 29 November 1999 during which, the GCC leaders agreed to establish customs union and to implement a unified customs tariff. The leaders also discussed regional situation and developments in Iraq, Iran, Middle East and the Palestinian cause.

The 'Riyadh Declaration' included a host of directives to enhance cooperation among member countries.

The Twenty First Summit: Manama was the venue for the 21st summit, held between 30 and 31 December 2000. The most highlighted event of that summit was the signing of joint defence agreement between the GCC countries.

The leaders agreed to allow GCC citizens to practice economic activities and to hold jobs in any member country. It has also approved recommendations to study the demographic structure and the impact of foreign labour.

The Twenty Second Summit: The 22nd GCC summit, held in Muscat between 30 and December 2001 drew its importance from being the first meeting for the GCC leaders after the September 11 attacks and the anti-terrorism campaign waged by the United States.

The summit's final communique strongly condemned the attacks and expressed support to the international alliance to eliminate terrorism. The communiqu? called on scholars and intellectuals in the Islamic world to intensify efforts aimed at acquainting the world with the Islamic values which promote tolerance, denounce violence and prohibit killing of people.

The summit reiterated UAE's sovereignty over its three islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb, under Iranian occupation and extended support to the measures being taken by the UAE to regain its sovereignty.

The leaders also agreed to Yemen's membership of the GCC Heaklth Ministers' Council, the GCC Arab Education Bureau and the Gulf Cup Football Tournament.

They also approved appointment of Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah as the new GCC Secretary General, succeeding Jamil Al Hujailan.

The Twenty Third Summit: The 23rd summit was held in Doha between 21 and 22 December 2002.

In that summit, the leaders agreed to establish the GCC Customs Union as of January 2003 and directed that GCC Common Market be established in the earliest possible time. Among the issues discussed were the equal treatment to GCC citizens in all economic activities, the contingency plan for petroleum products and the military cooperation.

The GCC leaders renewed their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and reiterated their countries' firm stand as regards differentiation between terrorism and the legitimate right of oppressed people to struggle against occupation of their territories.

They also discussed situation in Iraq and Palestine and Iran's occupation of UAE three islands.

The Twenty Fourth Summit: Held in Kuwait between 21 and 22 December 2003 and reviewed a report on the steps taken to establish the common market, as well as a report on the timeline for the single GCC currency. The Council also reviewed latest developments on the GCC economic relationswith international blocs.

The Twenty Fifth Summit: Named 'Zayed Summit' and hosted by Bahrain between 20 and 21 December 2004, the summit was held in tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in recognition of his pivotal role in the GCC progress and to the services he rendered to the Arab and Islamic nations.

The summit reviewed preliminary studies on the feasibility of establishing an intra-GCC railways and the GCC power grid. The leaders also reviewed a report on the smart card project which would act as a national identity for GCC citizens.

A number of unified laws in the agricultural and industrial fields were ratified, including the industrial regulation law for GCC countries.

The 'Manama Declaration', issued at the end of the summit, empahsised the GCC countries' desire to continue modernization drive. An eventful quarter a century sums up the GCC achievements and testifies to its role in fulfilling aspirations of its peoples.

The regularity and smoothness with which the GCC summits are held reflect the member countries profound belief in the joint action and fraternal interdependence among them to continue the march of success. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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