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GCC economies have weathered many storms of international financial crisis: Khalifa

posted on 10/12/2009: 1079 views



The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have overcome many difficulties despite the multiple implications of the international economic and financial crisis thanks to their flexible economies, and vibrant economic base whether on production or services levels, UAE President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has affirmed.

"Not only this, they have maintained an acceptable rate of growth and solved some woes our economies had faced before the eruption of the crisis like inflation which has risen to higher rates and high cost of living. The GCC states will continue their efforts to overcome all impact of the crisis in order to ensure smooth running and stability of development,' Sheikh said in an interview with the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on the event of the GCC summit which will be held in Kuwait during the current month.

"The GCC states are not an isolated land and their inter-relation with the world make them have an effect on global political and economic events and also be affected by them. No doubt, the economic crisis the world is passing through is one of issues that the GCC had faced whether on national or collective levels.

The GCC states, the President added, had discussed the technical aspect of the crisis in order to contain the potential impact on their countries and peoples. Politically, the GCC states sought to galvanise a common stance through regional and international conferences and forums which analysed and diagnosed the root causes of the crisis and recommended solutions thereof.

"It is natural that the Kuwait summit will review steps taken by the GCC states in this respect and study any complementary measures that can immunize the GCC economies against any possible complications,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

"The most prominent factor that contributed to the stability of the course of the GCC joint action is that this march was not born out of a political desire from the GCC leaders rather than a response to objective factors that have primarily led to the creation of the group and believed in it existence in a later stage.

"Social bonds, meshed family ties in sometimes, geographical and natural territorial integrity of the Gulf political scheme in addition to relative similarity in many basics of political life, identical economic and productive structures and common social and cultural legacy have immune the GCC against shocks and fluctuations that other experiments have experienced,” he noted.

Following is the full text of interview:

Q1- The summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will be convened in Kuwait within the few coming days amidst daunting regional and international challenges. What are Your Highness expectations in light of these circumstances? What does the Kuwait summit offer?

A1 - As you know the GCC summit is not held as a reaction to certain regional and international events and developments. It is a chain in the circle of the GCC joint action which takes multilateral levels including the summit. Since the born of the GCC, we have been keen to hold regular summits as a show of healthy condition of the GCC joint action. It also underlines our sustained efforts for bolstering cooperation among member states in pursuit of integration which provides the foundation for the much-sought GCC unity.

We agree with you that the Kuwait summit will be taking place amidst a raft of regional and international challenges. We are also conscious that the status of the GCC as a key regional player and an influential factor in the global scene will give the summit special significance fitting well into that standing and influence. Accordingly, we are determined to take resolutions that are up to challenges we are facing and compatible with the regional changes and developments around us, taking into consideration that the resolutions we can reach are a fruit of continuous consultations between the GCC member states.

They (resolutions) will, of course, highlight the core principles that govern the action of the GCC. We should bear in mind that the GCC doesn't work away from other regional and international powers and circles. Building on this, the aim of the summit is to crystallise common GCC stances towards the current challenges in order to have the aspired impact on the said circles.

We are confident that the rich experience, wisdom, knowledge and ability of my brother, HH Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, will make it easier for us to achieve what our peoples are waiting for and what dreams they pin on us. Ability of Kuwaitis on organising events and their determination to create adequate environment - that will help us look into the busy agenda - will add special flavour to the summit.



Q2- The international financial crisis has impacted the whole world. Do Your Highness think the crisis will dominate the scene of the Kuwait summit? Are there any joint measures taken by the GCC states to fend off the fall-outs of the crisis?



A2 - The GCC states are not an isolated land and their inter-relation with the world make them have an effect on global political and economic events and also be affected by them. No doubt, the economic crisis the world is passing through is one of issues that the GCC had faced whether on national or collective levels.

As you know, the GCC states discussed the technical aspect of the crisis in order to contain the potential impact on our countries and peoples. Politically, the GCC states sought to galvanise a common stance through regional and international conferences and forums which analysed and diagnosed the root causes of the crisis and recommended solutions thereof.

It is natural that the Kuwait summit will review steps taken by the GCC states in this respect and study any complementary measures that can immunize the GCC economies against any possible complications.

No doubt, the GCC states have overcome many difficulties despite the multiple implications of the economic and financial crisis thanks to their flexible economies, and vibrant economic base whether on production or services levels. Not only this, they maintained an acceptable rate of growth and solved some woes our economies had faced before the eruption of the crisis like inflation which has risen to higher rates and high cost of living.

The GCC states will continue their efforts to overcome all impact of the crisis in order to ensure smooth running and stability of development.



Q3 - The GCC is the only unitary experiment that manages to survive and succeed. What is Your Highness evaluation of this model and its future?



A3 - The most prominent factor that contributed to the stability of the course of the GCC joint action is that this march was not born out of a political desire from the GCC leaders rather than a response to objective factors that have primarily led to the creation of the group and believed in it existence in a later stage. Social bonds, meshed family ties in sometimes, geographical and natural territorial integrity of the Gulf political scheme in addition to relative similarity in many basics of political life, identical economic and productive structures and common social and cultural legacy have immuned the GCC from shocks and fluctuations that other experiments have experienced.

In part of its facets, the GCC action was a response to common challenges faced by the GCC states. Therefore, addressing these challenges required a minimum level of coordination and cooperation that ensured better handling of them.

Harmony, patience, graduality and progression are among the most key factors behind the sustainability and progress of the GCC experiment.

Accordingly, most resolutions issued by the GCC found their way to the reality and respected by member states though some circumstances stood on the way of not meeting the time frames.



Q4 - The GCC citizen senses many political successes but he doesn't feel of any achievements that meet his needs and priorities directly. What is Your Highness view in this regard?



A4 - It is natural that achievements don't measure up to the level of dreams as life develops continuously and demands and dreams renew and change as per circumstances and developments. What was a dream yesterday has become a reality today. This doesn't apply to the GCC only but to all experiments of regional and international groups and organisations starting from the UN and its specialised organisations and firmly established experiments and ending with the regional experiments that tried to carve a place for themselves in a world that is heading to groups and alliances. We in the GCC are not exception to the rule which governed the evolution, growth and continuation of various regional blocs. It is fair when we review achievements of these groups to say that our experiment is far much better whether on what had been achieved or the horizons ahead.

The citizen in the GCC states aspires for more achievements in regard to the GCC joint action and this is his right and, at the same time, is our duty. But we must say that gains that have been made on national level in each member state raise the ceiling of his demands and aspirations continuously and this is a healthy sign and a proof of the vibrancy of the experiment. As the citizen demands greater improvement and development, confidence on the GCC is growing as an instrument of the GCC joint action.



Q5 - The GCC citizen is looking forward for a real, effective integration between the GCC states. When do you expect that will happen?



A5 - Integration is one of the targets the GCC is striving to materialise and it will not be possible if its requirements and factors of its success are not in place. These factors will not be delivered through resolutions only but through introduction of structural reforms, review of legislations and comprehensive survey of impact of each step so the foundation of the aspired integration will be solid and capable of responding to future changes and developments. If we reviewed measures taken in this respect, we will find out that we have laid down some important pillars for the customs union which provides the base for the GCC common market. A set of resolutions have also been taken to allow GCC citizens to own shares and practice economic activities and other professions freely. Many economic legislations were also refined. This indicates that integration is a sustained practice and is progressing towards its final target - the GCC unity.



Q6 - The Gulf region is facing several foreign challenges, in particular instability in several countries, the escalating violence as well as the economic crisis. How can the GCC countries face those ongoing challenges?



A6 - GCC policy is based on a set of constants, most notably respect for neighbourly relations and non-interference in the others' affairs or attempt to influence their political, economic, intellectual choices and, at the same time, we do not allow others to intervene in our affairs or impose their choices on us.

These constants also include the adoption of dialogue as the basis to resolve any problems on the basis of the principles of international law and legitimacy. But these principles do not mean that we isolate ourselves from the surrounding problems and challenges, we believe that our security is linked to the regional and international security. Thus, the GCC is working, either collectively or bilaterally, to play a positive role in finding appropriate solutions for many of the issues that threaten stability and security, and GCC always provides help for other countries to enable them to solve their problems and crises. Thankfully, the GCC has been able to gain respect of the world and has a voice in international and regional forums by virtue of its moderate and balanced policy along with the continuous coordination between the member states.



Q7 - Arab citizens are feeling very sorry for the situation in brotherly Iraq and looking forward to its return to exercise its expected role in the Arab world. How do you evaluate the situation in Iraq and how do Your Highness see the Iraqi future under such circumstances?



A7 -The circumstances experienced by the brotherly Iraq for years raised concern and caused distress, but we have not lost faith in Iraq's ability to overcome difficult circumstances and restore its historical role and regional and international status. Despite the continuing security threat to Iraq's march to restore stability and full sovereignty over its land, we are following with hope some positive developments whether the improved ability of Iraqi authorities to control the Iraqi security and root out terrorist elements trying to maintain the state of security disorder and disrupt the political process.

We hope that the legislative elections next month will provide a better opportunity for the participation of all the brotherly Iraqi people and political forces in the efforts exerted to break the cycle of violence and begin the building and construction process, ensuring the alleviation of the Iraqi citizen's suffering, and opening the doors for hope again.

Also, we hope that the success of the political process will lead to the development of Iraq's relations at the regional and international levels to guarantee its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the reluctance of other countries from interfering in its internal affairs as per the agendas that are far from Iraq's interests. We in the GCC linked with Iraq with fraternity and neighbourliness relations and common history. We are looking forward to building constructive relations of cooperation with Iraq to serve the region and contribute to achieving its security and stability.



Q8 - Although we hear every day about the political moves, whether regional or international, to find a solution to the Palestinian issue. However, there has been no progress on the ground. How do Your Highness evaluate these moves? Do you feel optimistic about the statements and the vision of US President Barack Obama relevant to the Middle East issues? Do you expect a serious American move in the coming period to settle some of the Arab issues?



A8 - I agree with you that there is a waste of time and energies in the political movements which aim at finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. There is no doubt that there is a general sense of frustration with the intransigence shown by Israel in response to the efforts and initiatives aimed at reaching a comprehensive and just solution, most notably the Arab peace initiative.

But amid the fog that surrounds the peaceful settlement efforts, we find further development in the international situation which has become more understanding of the need for an independent Palestinian state, and has become convinced that the settlement in the occupied territories is an obstacle to the continuation of negotiations to reach its objectives. As we see this development as a positive sign, but we still believe that it is not sufficient to compel Israel to comply with the resolutions of the international legitimacy and deal with the peace process seriously according to its reference represented in the relevant international resolutions and agreements concluded with the Palestinian Authority. In parallel, there is a need to settle the division in Palestinian ranks to fill excuses for Israel to evade its obligations and to divert attention from its practices in the occupied Arab territories in general and Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular.

In respect of the American role and the commitment made by President Barack Obama on the Middle East; we hope that the efforts made by the U.S. administration will be fruitful, also, we hope that intransigence shown by Israel in dealing with these efforts will not be a source of despair and a reason to retreat from the broad lines expressed by the administration of President Obama, which has been welcomed in the region, as despair and failure to find a just and comprehensive solution could open the door to a new cycle of instability in the region and enhance the tendency of extremism and violence.



Q9 - How long will the problems that impede development and stability in the Arab world will continue?



A9 - I do not know what you mean by problems, if you are referring to regional and international conflicts, no doubt that these conflicts are one of the negative factors facing the development, but nevertheless, these conflicts must not be an excuse for deficiency, and negligence to carry out responsibility. We in the Arab world are capable, if we have a good use of the resources and potentials we have, to contain the effects of the problems we face, and to continue the development process without losing our right to continue to defend our rights and to confront all attempts that tamper with our security and stability.



Q10 - Emirati women in the era of Your Highness have gotten many gains and achievements, How do Your Highness evaluate this experience?



A10 - We look for women as a key player in the UAE society, as she is a partner of the man in all the fields. The position of the UAE women in recent months was not a surprising development, but is the culmination of a long march set by the founding leader the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was keen to encourage and enable women to exercise their rights along with men. UAE women have proved that they deserve our confidence and the confidence of UAE people, and they were capable to leave a clear imprint in all the fields making us confident that UAE women could make further achievements and gains that give their participation in public life a real content and a social dimension.



Q11 - UAE was able to achieve unprecedented economic leaps in recent years impressed the whole world .. What are the steps you followed to achieve this great economic success? And what is the impact of the global financial crisis on UAE's economy? A- UAE's achievements weren't confined only to the economic side, but let me say that we focus on the development of the UAE citizen to enable him to carry out his responsibility towards his country and its people. And the accomplished achievements whether at the level of infrastructure or at the level of diversification of productivity sources is the result of human efforts. The late Sheikh Zayed said that 'UAE citizen is the real wealth and the way to ensure our future'.

In respect of the global economic crisis, by virtue of our strong economy, and our prudent management of our public and private institutions, we were able to contain the negative effects of the crisis and overcome many of its results and implications. We have the ability and determination to continue our work in this direction for the completion of the steps we have taken in this area with the aim to remove all the obstacles that dampen the continuation of the momentum of the development process.



Q12 - The people of Kuwait sincerely love your Highness and the United Arab Emirates people. How do Your Highness consider the bilateral relations between Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates?



A12 - Our relationship with Kuwait is a historic in the full meaning of the word. For us Kuwait is the country where we learned and the model we followed in our developmental plans. Moreover, it represented a source of cultural and artistic radiation playing an important role in shaping the identity and personality of people in the region. It goes without saying that Kuwait was among the first to help the countries of the region. Kuwait also had a visible presence in the initiatives of schools and hospitals built on the shores of the Gulf before the discovery of oil.

We cannot say that our relationship today is an echo for yesterday's ties, but it's the relation of one homeland and one nation, even if they are in two geographically separate entities. The relation between the two countries with its historical dimension and social complexity has added depth to the relationship that binds us with His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad, Emir of Kuwait, as he was one of those who have contributed to the establishment of brotherly relations between our two countries and peoples, and we are confident that these relations will go forward to greater coherence and integration.- Emirates News Agency, WAM

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