BERLIN // Abdul Aziz al Ghurair, the Speaker of the Federal National Council, urged German politicians and opinion leaders yesterday to consider forging a strategic partnership with the UAE. Mr al Ghurair arrived in the German capital on Monday night and met yesterday with his German counterpart, Dr Norbert Lammert, the president of the German parliament, and a number of government officials, businessmen and academics.
"My message is how can we form a strategic partnership between Germany and the UAE," Mr al Ghurair said in a 14-minute speech to an international conference on security in the Gulf region, organised by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, a research foundation associated with Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Union party. "We are getting a lot of good messages from Germany, the vibe from the politicians was good. But we really need to put certain mechanisms [in place] if we are really serious," he said.
He said the relationship between the two nations should touch all levels, but stressed the personal. "I want the German visitor to the UAE to feel he is in his second home and the UAE citizen who comes here in the summer, I want him to feel this is his second home," he said. Mr al Ghurair said the countries had a converging interest in creating a strategic partnership. "We are the best partner for Germany. We have a very open system, our legal support, we have a democracy in place, our economy is the second largest in the Arab world," he said.
Germany had "great influence in the EU [European Union] and internationally, and we want to take advantage of this influence". "If the UAE has an issue, Germany will become a spokesman for the UAE. Also, if Germany has a problem, we will become the ambassador for the German issues there," he said. Mr al Ghurair said it was vital for Germany and the rest of the EU that the Gulf region remained stable because it was home to 65 per cent of the world's known oil reserves.
"To ensure that the relationship [between the Gulf and EU] can really continue and prosper, we need to make sure that there is peace and prosperity in the region," he said. "Without peace and prosperity in the region, the supply of energy can be interrupted." Issues such as the future of Iraq, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Iran's nuclear programme must be properly handled to ensure stability in the region, he said.
"We know the vague nuclear energy programme of Iran; where is it going to go? And what is the impact on the stability of the region if this programme goes to the wrong side? That can completely destabilise the region," Mr al Ghurair said. During meetings with German officials, Mr al Ghurair said that existing co-operation should be enhanced by the creation of a task force that would follow up on issues of common interests.
The trade volume between the two countries in 2007 was 5.2 billion (Dh29bn), but the UAE's share of sales accounted for only 400,000, according to Mohammed Ahmed al Mahmood, the UAE's ambassador to Berlin. The imbalance is a source of concern in the UAE. Michael Mertes, the member of the European Parliament for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said he would co-ordinate with Mr Mahmood to look at furthering areas of co-operation.
For instance, Mr Mertes said that Germany would "co-operate very closely" with the UAE in the field of renewable energy, "which is something we're very strong at". Germany was the UAE's strongest competitor to host the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) before Abu Dhabi won the bid in June. Mr al Ghurair is due to conclude his visit today. firstname.lastname@example.org