x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Criticism of UAE's rights record a 'mistake', says EU official

An EU official has spoken out against a resolution adopted by the European Parliament last year that criticised the UAE's human-rights record

BRUSSELS //A resolution adopted by the European Parliament last year criticising the UAE's human-rights record was a "diplomatic error", a senior EU official said yesterday.

The resolution, which was adopted in October last year after a visit by a parliamentary delegation, criticised the UAE over conditions for migrant workers, the status of women and the death penalty.

"Such issues should be discussed face to face and not through megaphone diplomacy," said the official, on the sidelines of the European summit in Brussels.

"We may have some concerns with the UAE regarding manpower conditions and human rights.

"This is a kind of issue that should be raised and discussed privately and in a more efficient manner that can achieve results."

The timing and manner in which the parliament adopted the resolution created a large rift between the EU and the UAE, the official added.

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said at the time that "the statement by the European Parliament is biased and prejudiced and throws unsubstantiated accusations without viewing the facts on the ground".

"The UAE's record has been proven by international organisations regarding human rights, especially in the area of foreign workers and the overall social welfare and empowerment of women," he added.

The official described the UAE as a very important partner in the region for the EU. Since the resolution was adopted, the EU has upgraded its diplomacy with the UAE.

Catherine Ashton, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, announced plans for a UAE embassy last month.

She said at the time she was "very pleased to announce the opening of an EU delegation in the United Arab Emirates, as this decision highlights the importance both of our geo-strategic interests in, and our political and economic ties with, this country, as well as with the Gulf Cooperation Council as a whole".

Michael Mann, a spokesman for Ms Ashton, said Abu Dhabi was chosen as a location for an embassy because of the UAE's strong ties with the EU.

"Due to the importance of our relations with the GCC we want to have more representations there and we are planning further missions," he said.

amustafa@thenational.ae