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UAE is France's major trade partner in the region: French President

posted on 25/05/2009: 966 views



The ambitious policies adopted by the UAE authorities over the last years paved the way for dynamic, open diversified economy, making the Arabian Gulf country, the major trade partner to France in the Middle East, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said. "The UAE today is our first partner in the Gulf and the Middle East. Of course, the first economic partner in the region. The figures speak for themselves. The volume of French exports to the UAE surged three times over the last 10 years. The UAE today receives half of the French investments in the Gulf. The ambitious policies of the UAE authorities over the last years paved the way for dynamic, open diversified economy.

The intuition of the French Companies did not falter. There are many of them seeking to take part in the economic development of the UAE, the French head of state said in an interview with WAM on the eve of his two-day trip to the UAE.

Expressing his delight at visiting the UAE again, President Sarkozy said: "I would like to come back to the UAE and Abu Dhabi in particular, which I have some good memories from my first visit in January 2008. I would be pleased to meet again President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whom I respect very much. I will also be happy to meet Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

"My first visit in 2008 opened new page of friendship between our countries. It was culminated by the two major decisions: the launch of French-UAE cooperation in peaceful nuclear field and setting up of the permanent French military base in Abu Dhabi.

"My visit today falls in the new framework dynamics as I will open a new military base between French inter-armies in Abu Dhabi. It will be an important event. This base, which was set up upon a request from the UAE authorities is an epoch making in the friendship relations between the two countries. Through the permanent military presence, France firmly pledges to back its Emirati friends as the proverb says: "Friend in need is a friend indeed". Be assured that France is on your side in the event your security is at risk. France, through this base - the first in the Middle East, is ready to shoulder its responsibilities to ensure the stability in the region. This region is strategic for the world balance,” he affirmed.

On his anticipated talks with his UAE counterpart, the French President added: We will tackle a number of issues with HH Sheikh Khalifa. We will particularly talk about all aspects of the bilateral cooperation, as well as a number of regional and international issues, among others, global financial crunch, situation in the Middle East and of course, Iran.

Turning to the UAE-France partnership, President Sarkozy noted: "The relations between the two countries go beyond economic issues. They are politically rich. We with the UAE defend joint vision about the globalisation. We are waging a joint battle in favour of the inter-cultural dialogue. We have same commitment about peace, particularly in the region. These relations are strategic in the light of defence agreement signed between the two countries in 1995 and today through setting up of the first permanent French military base in the region. Also there are rich cultural relations between the two countries in light of innovative, promising initiatives such as Louvre Abu Dhabi and Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi.

In regard to the Iranian nuclear programme, he said: ":The Iranian crisis is frankly one of the issues threatening world security. My position was clear and I still persist that owning of Iran of nuclear weapons is not acceptable.

"The option of the new US Administration to join us in serious dialogue is good news, because it will boost our efforts to convince the Iranian authorities that it is in their best interest and interest of their people to respond to the demands of the international community. I'm convinced that this approach is the best option and may be the only one to settle this issue amicably.

The Iranian authorities, the French leader affirmed, have to choose now either they return to the international community fold or face more increasingly isolation.

On peace-making in the Middle East, the French president stressed that there is a reality on the ground that no one would think seriously about peace in the Middle East without giving the Palestinians a State they have been persevering for years. It is their legitimate right.

"The best guarantee for security of Israel is setting up of a Palestinian independent, democratic, modern and viable state. Also construction of settlements should be stopped as it hinders peace,” he emphasised.

"What is important is to find solution to this long conflict. What is important is to put an end to this pain and wastage. In this conflict, Europe and US will stand by Israelis and Palestinians as well to reach reconciliation, but there will be no peace without genuine and sincere will of the two sides. The peace is an option- no one could choose an alternative for peace.



Speaking about the global financial crunch, the French president said: "We have now evidently begun to implement the principle that rules no single financial institution should slip out of the financial control system. This also applies to all rating agencies and hedge funds which were not subject to any form of control.

"We went further beyond: we published the list of taxation havens, which now have to abide by the rules of transparency attached to the international financial community. We also succeeded in endorsing the principle that mandates to punish anyone who refuses to abide by the rules. We also ratified the rules regarding wages in banks, so they will not give incentives for excessive risk,” he added.

On France's role in international efforts against the piracy in the Gulf of Aden, President Sarkozy said: "France was the first country to enter into this battle with determination earlier in September 2007. I had announced before the UN General Assembly that the French naval forces will escort the vessels belonging to the World Food Programme. This gave birth to operation ALCYON. It was also France who proposed, while it chaired the European Union in December 2008, to set up the ATALANTE operation, the first ever European naval operation to combat piracy in Somali waters and the Gulf of Aden.

"The French forces have detained 70 pirates so far and some of them will be tried in France,” he disclosed.

Following is the full text of Sarkozy's interview :

Q1 - What are objectives of your visit to the UAE and which subjects will you be discussing with UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan?

A1 - To be begin with, I would like to come back to the UAE and Abu Dhabi in particular, which I have some good memories from my first visit in January 2008. I would be pleased to meet again HH Sheikh Khalifa, whom I respect very much. I will also be happy to meet Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. My first visit in 2008 opened new page of friendship between the two countries. It was culminated by the two major decisions: the launch of French-UAE cooperation in peaceful nuclear field and setting up of the permanent French military base in Abu Dhabi.

My visit today falls in the new framework dynamics as I will open a new military base between French inter-armies in Abu Dhabi. It will be an important event. This base, which was set up upon a request from the UAE authorities is an epoch making in the friendship relations between the two countries. Through the permanent military presence, France firmly pledges to back its Emirati friends as the proverb says: "Friend in need is a friend indeed". Be assured that France is on your side in the event your security is at risk. France, through this base- the first in the Middle East, is ready to shoulder its responsibilities to ensure the stability in the region. This region is strategic for the world balance.

My visit will also coincide with another dear event- that is launch of construction of Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum at Al Saadiyat Island. I would like here to commend the UAE President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for their future bet on youth through investment in education, research and culture. Institutions the likes of Louvre Abu Dhabi and Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi constitute new horizons of our friendship.

The deliver a tangible model for the inter-culture dialogue which is necessary to our world. I hereby, express my gratitude to our Emirati friend to propose such wonderful, innovative partnerships.

We will tackle a number of issues with Sheikh Khalifa. We will particularly talk of all aspects of the bilateral cooperation, as well as a number of regional and international issues, among others, global financial crunch, situation in the Middle East and of course, Iran.

As you know, this visit is very important to me, because it represents a pivotal point in the friendship between France and the UAE.

Q2 - You said during your visit to the UAE on Jan. 15, 2008, the UAE had become during 30 years the first partner of France in the Middle East in the areas of economy, military and now culture. What reasons led to this exemplary relation?

A2 - This is true. The UAE today is our first partner in the Gulf and the Middle East. Of course, the first economic partner in the region. The figures speak about themselves. The volume of French exports to the UAE surged three times over the last 10 years. The UAE today receives half of the French investments in the Gulf. The ambitious policies of the UAE authorities over the last years paved the way for dynamic, open diversified economy. The intuition of the French Companies did not falter. There are many of them seeking to take part in the economic development of the UAE.

The relations between the two countries go beyond economic issues. They are politically rich. We with the UAE defend joint vision about the globalisation.

We are waging joint battle in favour of the inter-cultural dialogue. We have same commitment about peace, particularly in the region. These relations are strategic in the light of defence agreement signed between the two countries in 1995 and today through setting up of the first permanent French military base in the region. Also there are rich cultural relations between the two countries in light of innovative, promising initiatives such as Louvre Abu Dhabi and Sorbonne Abu Dhabi.

France-UAE relations derive their strength from joint values of dialogue, tolerance and peace. The UAE is a polar of moderation and stability in the region that needs them. As you have chosen the road to openness and modernity, our position will always to stand by you so that we jointly defend the values we believe in.

The strength of our friendship lies in the fact that we know how to update and weather storm in the face of realities and new challenges. When the UAE took a bold initiative to bet on future of youth through focusing on education, France was ready to respond to this option. When it decided to become the cultural capital in the region, France stood by it. When the UAE decided to develop peaceful nuclear energy to meet growing needs for energy, we were there to render help. You also backed us through boosting of the strategic alliance to set up the first permanent military base in Abu Dhabi. We were there to meet the request without hesitation.

Q3 - On the Iranian Nuclear Issue, you mentioned that it is so suspicious to see that Iran does not respond to the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the international community. Do you think the US will succeed in its dialogue attempt with Iran at a time six countries failed despite their repetitive attempts over the last three years?

A3 - The Iranian crisis is frankly one of the issues threatening world security. My position was clear and I still persist that owning of Iran of nuclear weapons is not acceptable. Since 2003, France with European allies followed balanced principle of seriousness and dialogue. This shows we offered to the Iranians ambitious cooperation offers, including cooperation in the nuclear fields provided that they respect their international obligations. We requested them to give up their illegal proliferation activities. As the Iranian authorities declined those proposals, we tightened the punitive measures and isolation policy.

The option of the new US Administration to join us in serious dialogue is good news, because it will boost our efforts to convince the Iranian authorities that it is in their best interest and interest of their people to respond to the demands of the international community. I'm convinced that this approach is the best option and may be the only one to settle this issue amicably.

Would this be enough? I don't know. But I wished that. Albeit the Iranian authorities have to choose now either they return to the international community fold or face more increasingly isolation.

Q4 - Your rhetoric President Sarkozy is clear to achieve peace. Are you not pessimistic from election of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who doesn't recognise the two-state solution?

A4 - He who knows me is aware I'm true friend of Israel and will not compromise the right of Israel to live in peace and security. No one would doubt that.

There is a reality on the ground that no one would think seriously about peace in the Middle East without giving the Palestinians a State they have been persevering for years. It is their legitimate right. The best guarantee for security of Israel is setting up of a Palestinian independent, democratic, modern and viable state. Also construction of settlements should be stopped as it hinders peace.

I'm not telling you this only here; I also said it at Knesset when I visited Israel in June 2008. I stressed it in all my meetings with the Israeli officials and would repeat it whenever necessary.

Am I pessimistic? The pessimism is not part of my nature. The feelings of each side are not important in comparison to stake volume. What is important is to find solution to this long conflict. What is important is to put an end to this pain and wastage. In this conflict, Europe and US will stand by Israelis and Palestinians as well to reach reconciliation, but there will be no peace without genuine and sincere will of the two sides. The peace is an option- no one could choose an alternative for peace.

Q5 - You were particularly active on the international front in confronting the global financial crisis, but it seems as if the reform of the financial system stays where it is. What is the period you deem necessary for accomplishing the reform for a renewed capitalism?

A5 - I don't agree with you at all on this conclusion. On the contrary, the G-20 that met in London last April allowed to achieve aspects of historic progress, especially in financial regulatory rules. Frankly speaking, no one used to believe that we would achieve this level of success in this limit of speed when we decided to reform the international financial system. Could you imagine! We have now evidently begun to implement the principle that rules that no single financial institution should slip out of the financial control system. This also applies to all rating agencies and hedge funds which were not subject to any form of control.

We went further beyond: we published the list of taxation havens, which now have to abide by the rules of transparency attached to the international financial community. We also succeeded in endorsing the principle that mandates to punish anyone who refuses to abide by the rules. We also ratified the rules regarding wages in banks, so they will not give incentives for excessive risk .

We also agreed on amending accountancy principles as they did not play their role in confronting the crisis. I know that we have not arrived at the end of the road. We now have to put these reforms into practice in a tangible way, and that is what we are doing now. It is also necessary that we begin to renew the global financial governance. For this purpose, the G20 is to meet again next September. What we have achieved so far is marvellous by itself. The process of the refitting of capitalism is a reality that is making its strides.

Q-6 France is particularly active against the piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. If the military method alone is not effective, how this phenomenon could be eradicated?

A6- You are right to say that the issue of piracy in the Somali waters cannot be solved by military means alone, at the same time, it is useful to resort to armed force, more over it is necessary. France was the first country to enter into this battle with determination earlier in September 2007. I had announced before the UN General Assembly that the French naval forces will escort the vessels belonging to the World Food Programme. This gave birth to operation ALCYON. It was also France who proposed, while it chaired the European Union in December 2008, to set up the ATALANTE operation, the first ever European naval operation to combat piracy in Somali waters and the Gulf of Aden.

Today, no one doubts about the efficacy of these operations, as no ship belonging to the World Food Programme has been attacked since the launching of ALCYON, as well as no vessel protected within the ATALANTE framework has been targeted by the pirates. We had made several operations to free the French citizens, who fell as hostages in the hands of the pirates. One of those operations unfortunately took the life of one of our citizens. That painful incident had an enormous effect on us. But the pirates should know that we will never subjugate to their extortions and they will always see us before them on vigil . The French forces have detained 70 pirates so far and some of them will be tried in France.

As you pointed out, these operations alone are not sufficient to put an end to piracy in the region, as piracy is the result of the failure of the Somali state before anything. Somalia today is a country torn into pieces, where the government supported by us is facing difficulties in imposing its rule.

So, we have to help the Somali people to rebuild their country. Thus, it has become necessary now more than any time before, to support the work of the new President Sheikh Sharif, as well as the dynamics of reconciliation he launched through the formation of the government of national unity for the first time since 1991. It is the duty of the international community to support the legitimate authorities in that country and to help them for strengthening the Somali institutions, especially the security forces affiliated to it. It is also our duty to strengthen the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), and this is what we are doing now.

The donors' conference held in Brussels on 23rd April this year could raise up to $213mn allocated for Somali security forces, Police and the AMISOM. This is in addition to the direct support the French forces in Djibouti are giving to train the Somali security forces and AMISOM soldiers. But, it is also necessary that we stand beside the Somali people for facing the humanitarian emergency, which affects nearly half of the population there. In 2008 France increased its humanitarian aid to Somalia and we will substantially enhance our efforts during 2009.

As you can see, we are fully burdened with the task of combating piracy and of helping Somalia to revive, but we need the commitment from all to achieve this. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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