x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Italy says UAE is 'model of tolerance in the Arab world'

Ambassador to UAE says European Parliament resolution does not reflect the official position of the Italian government.

DUBAI // Italy considers the UAE "a model of tolerance in the Arab world", according to the country's top UAE diplomat.

Responding to a European Parliament resolution about human rights in the United Arab Emirates, Italy's Ambassador to the UAE, Giorgio Starace, said it did not reflect the position of the Italian government.

"Italy, as a European Union founding member and as an established western democracy takes into high consideration the role and the independence of the European Parliament and the protection of human rights as crucial aspects," he said.

"Yet, we would like to underline that the mentioned resolution does not reflect the official position of the Italian government."

Mr Starace explained that the resolution is the result of the activity of an independent and supranational institution.

"The parliament members are elected and organise their activity not on behalf of the national governments or parliaments but on the basis of their agenda and on the agenda of the European political groups they belong to.

"In the specific case of the UAE, Italy consider this country as a model of tolerance in the Arab world and appreciates the progress so far achieved by the government of the UAE in the field of the respect of human rights and dialogue with all religions."

The resolution was issued by the European Parliament on October 26 and criticised the UAE over civil liberties, conditions for migrant workers, the status of women and the death penalty after a May fact-finding visit by members of the parliament headed by German MP Dr Angelika Leibner.

"Every effort should be made to ensure better legislative protection for migrant workers," she told The National during her visit.

"We appreciate the efforts being made by the UAE to reconcile modernisation and tradition.

"However, as recognised by the authorities themselves, a lot more has to be done to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and special attention should be paid to the conditions of migrant workers."

The report received strong criticism from the UAE government and was described as baseless.

"The statement by the European Parliament is biased and prejudiced and throws unsubstantiated accusations without viewing the facts on the ground that have been proven by international organisations regarding human rights, especially in the area of foreign workers and the overall social welfare and empowerment of women," said Dr Anwar Gargash, the minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

Mr Starace added: "The Italian government will increase its effort in all contexts in order to avoid the consolidation of prejudices and of positions which do not reflect the completeness of the scenario."

amustafa@thenational.ae