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Khalifa's remarks on GCC published into book

posted on 21/12/2004: 843 views

President H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed AI Nahyan maintains a strategic vision of the region as strategic key to the international peace and security, according to Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister.

He believes, quite correctly, that this region which is part and parcel of the greater Arab world, is a strategic area upon which global stability and security is largely dependent. It is from this perspective that Sheikh Khalifa views the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a landmark event underpinning the aspirations of the people of the region, said Sheikh Sultan in a foreword on a documentary book titled 'Statements by President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan about the GCC', issued by Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Information Affairs, to mark the Manama summit.

'One of the most remarkable hallmarks of this century is the tendency within regional or global entities to merge into larger political, economic or security blocs as the mode for survival in a rapidly changing world,' he said. The Gulf region, he added, is no exception. Although the countries of the region have had long-standing ties, augmented by shared historical and socio-cultural values, yet they have sought an even greater union as means to sustaining prosperity and progress.

The leaders of the region have always cherished the dream of unity, which they believed would provide them with an additional weight in economic, military and political terms. 'Needless to say, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was a strong proponent of unity of the Gulf region.

In his own words he said in more than one occasion: "I strongly believe that the Gulf region is one entity and one area. Unity is strength. It is my hope that we would be able to forge a greater union or federation across the Gulf, not just in the UAE. The success of our federation in the UAE is a cause for hope. Unity is a conviction and a belief. We know that unity is strength and disunity is weakness".

'This forthright vision of Sheikh Zayed, Sheikh Sultan stated, had proved that he was not only a visionary leader but also well ahead of his time. "Since the first summit in Abu Dhabi in 1981 in which the birth of the GCC was proclaimed, we have felt that we have entered a new era, an era of joint action. An era where security and unity of countries of the region will be considerably augmented", Sheikh Khalifa once remarked.

He maintains that the formation of the GCC was a manifestation of the dreams of the people of the region for unity, progress and prosperity. These aspirations were correctly analysed and translated into concrete realities on the ground. The spontaneous desire of the GCC leaders for unity was something that they imbibed from their ancestors, a vision which envisaged one region one people since times immemorial.

Sheikh Khalifa believes that the success that the GCC leaders have made in uniting the region could be emulated by the rest of the Arab world. Indeed, it can be a nucleolus for a larger Arab unity. The GCC leaders laid down the foundation of the organization so concretely that it was easy to make one success after the other.

These successes have won the GCC a respect and admiration from the rest of the world. It is hoped that these remarks, which were made on numerous occasions, will provide the reader with a comprehensive view about the efforts of the UAE to reinforce the unity of the GCC, Sheikh Sultan concluded.

On the first GCC summit in Abu Dhabi in May 1981, Sheikh Khalifa said: ' This summit will send a strong message to the rest of the world that the GCC leaders are more than capable of handling their problems. It will also send a message to the rest of the world that stability and security of the GCC region can only be maintained and safeguarded by the citizens of the GCC. Moreover, the summit is an expression of a strong resolve by the GCC to work collectively and assert their identity.

The birth of the GCC will bolster the confidence of a people who united by common bonds of brotherhood. 'We are confident that the 1st Abu Dhabi GCC Summit will succeed because the aspirations and goals are one. The people of the region share the same aspirations and expectations'.

One reason why this conference is great is that it sprang from the popular need for unity, which has been a long-held dream of the people of the region. It is a dream which they have nurtured for decades. This particular factor, combined with the common traditions, values and cultures constitute positive factors that will lead to the success of the first Abu Dhabi summit, which is set be a turning point in that it will translate the issue of unity from a mere slogan to a tangible reality.

'It is significant to note that the formation of the GCC is the first practical step towards a comprehensive Arab unity. In a statement a couple of days after the conclusion of the summit, Sheikh Khalifa told a Saudi newspaper, AI Madinat, on May 25th, 1981 that the formation of the GCC was a result of concerted efforts exerted by GCC leaders. The formation of the council, he said, is a significant step towards Arab unity. Indeed, it is a milestone in the history of Arab relations in general and the GCC in particular.

Sheikh Khalifa noted that the six member states that have always played a significant role in mending Arab relations have yet again proved to the Arab world that unity is quite possible and attainable.

They have also proved to the Arab people at large that with determination everything is could be attained. The GCC example proves that Arab unity is not a distant dream. The lesson to be learnt from the GCC experience is: Arab unity lies in determination, collective will and understanding.

Sheikh Khalifa has been aware all along that a comprehensive GCC integration cannot be complete without economic integration.

In a statement to the Bahraini newspaper on the 22 October 1983, he said that economic coordination and integration must run concurrently with political and military coordination among the GCC countries.

He saw the military cooperation between the GCC states as complementary to economic security and political integration. If these three aspects are fused to gather, then the GCC will be a strong entity and will be able to maintain its security, prosperity and progress.

In a statement to the Saudi newspaper AI Madinat on 23,October 1983, Sheikh Khalifa said that the formation of the GCC was the embodiment of the aspirations of the GCC people. It is also the epitome of the intimacy of the people of the GCC. It is a huge monument expressing the solidarity and unity of the GCC leaders. In other words, it came out as a result of spontaneous feeling among the leadership. The formation of the GCC was considered as a pioneering experience that is based on solid ground and hard work. It is also an expression of self-denial and commitment to the security and stability of countries of the region.

It was in fact good news for the rest of the world that if smaller entities can work together to forge a union, then the world can actually be more stable. It will be easy to deal with one entity rather than smaller and weak entities.

On the occasion of the 5th summit of the GCC in Kuwait, Sheikh Khalifa told the in Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA) on 24 November 1984, that the GCC leaders have been keen to protect the greater national interests.

He said the most important thing at this stage was the independence of the GCC political decision, for if the region has no political decision, then it would land itself into problems and then look beyond the region for external help even in cases where strategic decisions need to be made.

This will give opportunity for others to make important decision on behalf of the region. This of course will be contradiction in principles because the prime task of the GCC leadership is to uphold the independence of the region.

In an interview with the Saudi Magazine AI Yamama on 13 March 1994, Sheikh Khalifa lauded the GCC progress as a rational one. The GC has made a slow but steady progress because every thing was put in plan before being implemented. It was not a haphazard affair. Over the last decade, which is not a long period in the life of an organization, the GCC succeeded to achieve a lot in terms of laying the foundations of Arab work. This is in addition to other visible achievements.

Citing the European Union as example, Sheikh Khalifa said groupings such as the GCC and the EU take a long time to achieve the full objectives for which they had been established. The EU took a long time to get to where it is today. It is therefore unrealistic to expect the GCC to overcome all the challenges in just one decade. Other may say that the GCC has been slow. This is fair enough, but on the other hand, it is better to move slowly and surely than hastily and get nowhere. In a nutshell, we are hopeful that a lot more will be achieved as long we stay focused.

In an interview with the Omani News Agency on 15/11/1995 to mark the silver jubilee of Oman's national day, Sheikh Khalifa said that the stability of the GCC region really lies with the strengthening of the GCC as an organization. As the GCC was preparing for the summit in Oman, it is important to clarify the objectives.

Commenting on the global situation, he said the summit comes at a time when the world is undergoing rapid changes in every facet. It is imperative for the GCC and indeed other regional groupings to review their strategies to suit the global climate. The GCC has been keeping abreast the latest changes but the required transformation should be far-reaching so as to embrace the global changes. What is required at this critical juncture is a qualitative leap by the GCC in terms of policies and strategies.

In other words, there is a need for a new concept. Petty border disputes by the GCC states should be resolved immediately during the Muscat summit. If this is done, then the organization will get a new momentum. "Our strength lies in our unity and in unity lies our future. There can be no future without a strong organization like the GCC "said Sheikh Khalifa. Integration of the GCC economies is already in full swing. The march for progress is continuing.

In a statement upon his arrival in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Khalifa told the AI Sharq Al Awsat on 22/ 4 /2000, that bilateral between the UAE and Saudi Arabia and indeed between other member states, is just a single aspect of the wider cooperation. It cannot in any way be considered as an attempt for creating internal alliances within the GCC. He cited the formation of bilateral committees as important factor in promoting relations.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on June 03,2003, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed AI Nahyan stated that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is the unifying framework for a group of states that had been brought together by common factors well before the establishment of the GCC. These countries developed similar political, economic, and social blocs.

Thus, they group themselves together in this framework, realizing that their unity will bear positive impacts on the unity and solidarity of the Arab world which they always support. In His Highness' remark on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of establishment of the United Arab Emirates, on December 02, 2004, he said: "We will continue our efforts with our brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to consolidate the joint Gulf action, revitalizing its activities in order to complete the building of the political, economic, social, and security integration. We are looking forward to the next session of the GCC High Council due to be held in the Kingdom of Bahrain, hoping that it will reinforce the joint Gulf action, so that we can attain further achievements.” (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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