Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 July 2019

Two titans set the tone for multilateralism

Sheikh Mohamed’s meeting with Angela Merkel sends important message to the world

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed gives joined speech with Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany. Curtesy of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed gives joined speech with Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany. Curtesy of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs

Two of the biggest champions of a multilateral world order joined forces this week, when Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, travelled to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Their dialogue sent an important message to the international community that open trade and an expansive diplomatic outlook are the only real paths to prosperity.

The meeting between Mrs Merkel and Sheikh Mohamed marked the 15-year anniversary of the strategic partnership between the UAE and Germany. The two countries are already planning a new road map for the next decade and a half. Since the first agreement was signed, trade between the two nations has almost quadrupled to $14 billion, which means the UAE is now Germany’s biggest partner in the Arab world. There are plans for that exchange to double in the next few years.

In addition to economic co-operation, the two countries have a shared vision of politics that places a truly global outlook above all else. Diplomacy, discussion and reason are at the heart of that perspective. As Sheikh Mohamed said in Germany: “Both sides identified the importance of holding political consultations” and of the need to engage regularly in those discussions.

This is why the UAE called for measured steps in the aftermath of a sabotage attack on Norwegian, Saudi and Emirati tankers off the coast of Fujairah last month. While some immediately accused Iran of plotting the attacks, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, called for a de-escalation of US-Iranian tensions. The apparent attacks on two more tankers on Thursday will no doubt elicit another measured response.

Berlin has also called for de-escalation and Mrs Merkel has said she favours “political and peaceful solutions” to soothe the simmering tensions between Iran and the US, but she has also voiced concern over Tehran’s missile programme and its interference in Syria during the meeting.

At a time when xenophobic sentiment has pushed some European nations to close their maritime borders, leaving migrants to languish at sea, Mrs Merkel has led by example. In fact, Germany has taken in more than half a million Syrian refugees and welcomed nearly one million refugees in total.

Mrs Merkel and Sheikh Mohamed have a common view of leadership, based on strong diplomatic and economic ties and grounded in security, peace and prosperity. History tells us that it is the strengthening of bonds between such nations that will survive the test of time, rather than the ills of hatred and division.

Updated: June 13, 2019 06:10 PM

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