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Greek President voices desire to boost ties with UAE

posted on 27/11/2006: 720 views

President Karolos Papoulias of Greece has said his country's relations with the UAE have well progressed but more resources in the economic realm remains untapped.

In an interview with WAM on the eve of his state visit to the UAE, which starts on Monday, Mr. Papoulias said his talks with President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan would cover major international issues such as the situation in the Middle East, the Palestinian and Cypriot issues as well as bilateral relations.

"On the political level, we will exchange views on ways to remove the crisis from the region," he noted, adding that the UAE is playing a stabilizing role in the region.

On the prospects of Turkey's entrance to the European Union, the Greek leader said he would not mind Turkey joining the group provided that, it accepts all the rules and principles already accepted by other member states.

He paid homage to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, who, he said, had shown how leadership could make a difference and could help create unity, peace and prosperity. He expressed desire to promote friendship and create strategic cooperation with the UAE.

Following is the full text of the interview:-

1. Your Excellency, what are the objectives of your first ever official visit to UAE?

Let me start by pointing out how happy I am to be visiting the United Arab Emirates. I have always believed in the potential of the Greek-Emirates relations and am very proud that the Greek embassy in Abu Dhabi was established in the 80's during my first tenure as Foreign Minister.

I visit the UAE accompanied by an important ministerial delegation which includes Mr. Emmanuel Kefalogiannis, Minister of Mercantile Marine, Christos Folias and Petros Doukas, Deputy Ministers of Economy and Finance, and Evripidis Stylianidis, Deputy Minster of Foreign Affairs.

I believe that our visit and our talks with His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed AI Nahyan, a great leader who furthers the prosperity of the United Arab Emirates, will act as a catalyst forwarding our relations and opening new lanes of cooperation.

2. UAE and Greece's relations have always been characterized by development and progress over the years. What's your vision regarding the promotion of these relations in the future?

Greek-Emirates relations have indeed progressed a lot. On the political level, we will exchange views on ways to remove the crisis from the region. The UAE are playing a stabilizing role and I look forward to exploring relevant paths of cooperation. However I believe that, especially in the economic realm, there are still untapped resources and a potential that waits to be fully developed.

3. What are the main issues which you will discuss with the UAE leadership during the visit?

Let me state first of all my respect for the wisdom and vision of the founder of UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan AI Nahyan. He has shown how leadership can make a difference and can help create unity peace and prosperity.

During my talks with His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed AI Nahyan, we will definitely refer to the contribution that our country can make in our broader region so that international law, peace and economic development with a human face prevail. The mayor international issues will be also discussed. The situation in the Middle East, the Palestinian the Cyprus issues and Iraq will be important topics.

In Greece we have deep respect for the achievements of the Emirates on various issues. The environment is one of these, as you have managed to achieve the impossible, to green the desert. Environmental issues will then definitively be part of the agenda.

As 20% of our GDP is derived from tourism, we have a great experience on the tourist industry and the Emirates are becoming at an accelerating space a prominent tourist destination, our cooperation opportunities are great.

I also hope that my stay will contribute to establishing a solid ground for our trade cooperation.

4- Have you had any ambitions of reaching any strategic partnership with the UAE that might open new horizons of cooperation to be a model of bilateral cooperation in the region?

I very much believe in the mutual benefit of the creation of a bilateral strategic cooperation. Our political relations are excellent and we share the same region and for our peoples. We acknowledge the growing importance of the GCC in the world scene. Arabs and Greeks share a deep historic friendship upon which we build our cooperation.

Since my election as President of the Hellenic Republic, one and a half year ago, I have made it a priority to visit the Gulf Countries and this is my second trip in the region. This by itself shows the importance that we, as a country, and personally myself attribute to the region.

5- What are your visions for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following the formation of the new government by Hamas?

Since the outcome of last summer's war in Lebanon, Greece has persistently contributed in reinstating the political dialogue in the Palestinian problem and the peace process.

During the Greek Presidency in the UNSC there was a substantial discussion, the first one after many years in all essential parameters of the issue. What is needed is a direct, comprehensive negotiation so that we achieve our goal which is peace with security in the Middle East, with an Internationally recognized two state solution.

6. How do you see the prospects of the entrance of Turkey in the European Union and the Cyprus issue?

We are for the entrance of Turkey to the Union. However this cannot be done but with Turkey accepting all the rules and principles already accepted by every other member. The Cyprus issue is both an international law and a European issue since Cyprus is a European Union member state. We believe in a just and viable solution within international law and we hope the Secretary General will in the time due renew his efforts in a framework without restricting timetables. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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