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UAE NATIONAL DAY REPORT 2002 - Foreign Policy

posted on 01/12/2002: 1450 views

Since the formation of its federation in 1971, the UAE has consistently pursued an even-handed and judicious foreign policy that is based on the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations and inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by force, as enshrined in the United Nations' Charter.

Following a successful drive on the domestic level to lay down the foundations of the country's infrastructure and socio-economic growth, the father of the modern UAE, President H.H Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan then focused on building ties with countries of the world, conceiving the role of the UAE among the comity of nations as one that promotes the global culture of dialogue and understanding. +As leaders responsible for our nations, we ought to adhere to the values of tolerance and dialogue when dealing with one another. This should be our guiding principle when dealing with various issues.

Dialogue and wisdom should always take precedence over confrontation, war and destruction+ Sheikh Zayed once remarked. But in spite of the fact that the UAE upheld the principles of dialogue tolerance and understanding, it nevertheless remained committed to the causes of the oppressed people around the world, as seen in its unstinted support to the just struggle of the Palestinian people. This is a support that the UAE has extended as matter of principle irrespective of whether or not that support would contradict the position of the bigger powers.

Despite their somewhat tiny positions in the world's stage, small nations nevertheless have the responsibility of ensuring that justice prevails and should be extended to all people of the world, President Sheikh Zayed once remarked. This is a principle that the UAE has upheld and continued to pursue and advocate. It has also sent out loud and clear messages to this effect and stuck to its position even at times when it had to take a different view from that of the major world players.

While the UAE strictly adhered to principles of justice and equality, it has sought to play its role as a peace-loving nation, extending bonds of friendliness and cooperation to many friendly and sisterly countries around the world. This role contributed to the reinforcement of values of tolerance and co-existence among nations of the world, as enunciated in the UN Charter. Today, as the UAE celebrates the 31st anniversary of its federation, it ranks among the world community as a strong proponent of peaceful dialogue, tolerance and global peace and stability.

The UAE foreign policy would not have made the successes that it made, had it not been founded on the strongest indigenous values of the UAE society as well as those of the larger Arab and Islamic culture. In this respect, President Sheikh Zayed has always said: +The UAE foreign policy stems from the noble value and principle which we have cherished the most, and that is, our continuous desire to do what is acceptable to God. We believe that this is the greatest principle which laid the sound basis for our understanding with the rest of our brothers and sisters in the international community+. It also on this understanding and spirit, noted Sheikh Zayed that the UAE constitution was written.

The constitution stipulates quite clearly that the UAE federation is a part and parcel of the greater and Islamic community, with which it shares common linguistic, religious and historical heritage. The constitution also made it clear that the UAE would safeguard and preserve its entity within the greater Arab community while at the same time remaining cognizant of its domestic, regional and international obligations. The amalgamation of all these components resulted in what turned out later to be an even-handed foreign policy.

It is a policy that had been built gradually and judiciously over the decades, beginning with the enthronement of Sheikh Zayed as Ruler of Abu Dhabi emirate in 1966, followed five years later with the formation of the UAE federation in 1971 and ten years later with the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), whose birth was announced in Abu Dhabi in 1981. It is quite evident from this history that Sheikh Zayed's encompassing vision of unity had been a long cherished one. But he had been conscious of the fact it would take patience and time to achieve that goal rather than have it imposed haphazardly.

+People accuse me of being a unionist, and this is an accusation that I do not deny. But my vision of unity is not an imposed one. Unity should be based on the free will and common interests of the people+ he said. This is the same view which Sheikh Zayed expressed when he was asked about the objectives of GCC shortly after its formation. He said: + The GCC is an important step towards solidarity and cooperation among the Gulf countries, aimed at achieving greater interests of the people of the region+.

On whether or not the formation of the new body would not contradict the objectives of the Arab League, Sheikh Zayed said: + Our foreign policy would be two-fold. On the one level, we will work to reinforce cooperation with our Arab and Muslim brothers who are indeed part of us. On the other level, we will work with the greater human family, consisting of friendly countries with whom we will continue to extend friendly ties. Our relations with these countries will continue to be based on mutual respect+

On the issue of the occupied UAE islands of Abu Musa, Greater and Lesser Tunbs, the UAE has clearly demonstrated its adherence to the values of tolerance, dialogue and good neighbourliness in its pursuit of its just and strong case. While consistently affirming its right over the islands, the UAE pursued its case through peaceful means as directed by President Sheikh Zayed. +It has been always our desire that relations with our neighbours be based on mutual understanding that takes historical ties into consideration. It is inconceivable that we would one day abuse our relations with our neighbours. If there is any misunderstanding between us and our neighbours, then we will invoke God's help to give wisdom and patience to resolve it without resorting to any means that may harm our mutual interests+.

In line with this judicious stand, the UAE has repeatedly called on Iran to join it in ending the dispute either through international arbitration or through direct talks. This is a position that the UAE stressed recently in an address at the United Nations on September 20, in which Foreign Minister Rashid Abdullah and re-affirmed the UAE's sovereignty over the isles, their territorial waters, coral reefs and the economic zone. The UAE made numerous overtures in this respect to ensure that the parties reach a successful conclusion, said the Minister, adding that the latest move in this regard was the visit this year to Iran by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. On the Iraqi question, the UAE has led efforts towards inter-Arab reconciliation. President Sheikh Zayed was the first Arab leader to call for unification of Arab ranks so as to bridge the schism that occurred in August 1990.

In a recent interview with Al Ahram newspaper, Sheikh Zayed said Arabs had the duty of alleviating the suffering of the Iraqi people and also work collectively to avert any war against Iraq. Sheikh Zayed told the paper that diplomatic efforts should take precedence over any other options, adding that any unilateral action by any party in favour of war would lead to negative repercussions in the region. +Wars cannot solve problems. Differences should be solved within the context of the international law and UN Charter+ Sheikh Zayed told the paper.

In another statement at the UN, the UAE underlined the position adopted by the Arab countries at their Beirut Summit in March this year, which called preservation of the unity of Iraq and its territorial integrity. The UAE maintained this position until the UN passed a new resolution (1441) in November, which the UAE welcomed and urged Iraq to cooperate with the UN inspectors.

On the Palestinian question, the UAE continued to provide support since the beginning of Al Aqsa Intifada in 2000. In the wake of the unfortunate events of September 11, President Sheikh Zayed called on the international community to focus on the Israeli terrorism against the Palestinian people in the same way it would fight international terrorism. On the humanitarian front, the UAE also continued to provide assistance to the civilian population in Palestine and also undertook the reconstruction of the Jenin refugee camp.

The UAE also offered to renovate the Church of Nativity and the neighbouring Omar Ibn Khatab Mosque. The Mosque and Church are being renovated on the expenses of Sheikh Zayed. Other UAE assistance include contributing in the infrastructure projects in areas under the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). One of these projects is the Sheikh Zayed City in Gaza. The foundation stone of this city was laid by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Information and Culture during a visit to Gaza last year.

At the UN, the UAE continuously called on the international community, particularly the US and EU to put more pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Arab territories and implement the relevant UN resolutions on the Middle East, leading ultimately to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The UAE also called for more pressure on Israel to heed to calls for a safer Middle East, free from weapons of mass destruction. On the issue of terrorism, the UAE was among the first countries to condemn all forms of terrorism and called for an international conference in which the international community would arrive at an agreed concept for terrorism in accordance with the UN Charter. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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