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German Chancellor hails 'successful' cooperation with UAE

posted on 03/03/2005: 643 views

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder yesterday praised the level of political and economic ties between the UAE and Germany with an envisage for similarly strong relations in academic and cultural spheres. In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), prior to his arrival in Abu Dhabi on an official visit to the country, Schroeder said that strategic partnership between the two countries should act as a good example for other nations to follow.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Relations between the UAE and Germany are moving forward tremendously.

What are your plans for the further development of this relationship? Economic relations between Germany and the UAE have been outstanding for some time and continue to develop excellently. The UAE is our most important trading partner in the region. Our extremely successful cooperation on training Iraqi police officers and soldiers shows that relations are close and trustful also at political level. We want to keep enhancing these relations and extending them to other fields. As the next step, we are aiming to intensify cultural and academic exchange between our countries.

I would be delighted if more UAE students were to study at German universities. But there are also shared interests in many international issues, for example concerning cooperation in the fight against international terrorism or global environmental protection.

Question 2: What are the main topics you plan to discuss with the UAE leadership during your visit to Abu Dhabi?

Discussing the political situation in the region will of course be a major focus. As an immediate neighbour, the UAE has a particular interest in resolving the Middle East conflict and in seeing a peaceful development in Iraq and Iran. In addition, we want to further strengthen the agreed strategic partnership with the UAE.

Question 3: Are we right in assuming that the strategic partnership between the UAE and Germany will bring the two countries to a new quality of relations that is also exemplary for bilateral cooperation in the entire Arab region?

In the age of globalization and in a dramatically changing world, we face challenges that affect us all, but that no state can tackle alone. So the states of the world must work together in a spirit of mutual respect. The strategic partnership between Germany and the UAE is a good example here that can surely also spur on other countries in the region. Relations between our two countries have indeed a quite new quality today and this is something we want to further enhance in a spirit of honest and equal partnership.

Question 4: What are the goals of your trip to the Arab Gulf states, Federal Chancellor?

The region of the Arab Gulf states is crucial for Germany and Europe, not just because of the major crude oil deposits which must be exploited in a responsible manner to guarantee energy security for our economies. Rather, the region is constantly growing in political importance, both in the fight against international terrorism and as an ally when it comes to promoting sustainable development in the world's crisis hotspots. Now that regional integration in the Gulf Cooperation Council is on an ever firmer foundation, further opportunities for cooperation are being presented.

I want to use my trip to ensure even better use is made of these opportunities in the future.

Question 5: Does Germany intend to participate in future peace missions in Iraq and how do you assess the reconstruction process?

Germany did not take part in the war against Iraq for good reason. Nothing will change here: we will not send soldiers to Iraq. But of course we also have an interest in stability and democratic development in Iraq. That is why we are helping to enable Iraqi security forces to guarantee adequate security themselves as quickly as possible.

Question 6: Together with the UAE, Germany has performed fantastic work in training Iraqi police officers and soldiers and thereby helped the Iraqi people take responsibility for security into their own hands. How long will the joint training project last?

In order to re-establish security and order in Iraq, functioning security forces committed to rule-of-law principles must be set up. To play our part here, we launched this very successful training cooperation with the UAE. I would like to sincerely thank our partners from the UAE for the outstanding cooperation and support. So far, more than 400 Iraqi police officers and 120 transport soldiers have been trained and 100 military trucks delivered. More courses are planned. In April, we will start training Iraqi engineers. Expert training for police will also continue. We have agreed to take stock at regular intervals.

But how long we continue the courses will depend on demand and on further developments in Iraq.

Question 7: Federal Chancellor, you recently visited Libya. Do you feel this visit was important for the development of relations with this Arab country?

My visit was an important step on the road to drawing the European Union and Libya closer together again. Through foreign-policy decisions, Libya has ended its decades of isolation and is now re-integrating into the international community. I very much welcome this move and hope that full membership of the Barcelona Process can draw Libya closer to the European Union. Germany companies see Libya as a superb economic partner and are active in the country with increasing success.

Question 8: How will you support the Palestinian people in the future? How do you think the Middle East problem could be solved after the election of Abu Mazen as President of the Palestinian Authority?

The most recent developments in Israeli-Palestinian relations fill me with confidence. Since President Abu Mazen's assumption of office, we can see positive movement in the Middle East peace process. I hope this will bring us closer to the founding of a Palestinian state. After all, according to the road map, we all have the aim of establishing a viable, independent, democratic state of Palestine living side by side with Israel in secure and recognized borders. The planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank is a very important step here and one that we welcome.

Question 9: How do you assess relations between Europe and the Gulf states? Do you believe the two sides will be able to overcome the hurdles to a free trade agreement?

Relations are good but there is still room for improvement. Just like Germany, the European Union is keen to further develop relations as part of a strategic partnership. The free trade agreement will be a first step in this direction. Clear progress was made on the negotiations last year. I hope agreement can soon be reached on the remaining points. The issue will for example be on the agenda at the next meeting of the EU-GCC Ministerial Meeting to be held in Bahrain in April. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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