x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE boosts diplomatic presence in Europe

The permanent mission will be a key player in spreading peace, dialogue and tolerance, says Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

DUBAI // The UAE is to open a new permanent mission to the European Union in Brussels.

The mission will aim to be a key player in spreading peace, dialogue and tolerance and will solidify UAE relations with the 28-member bloc, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said at a Cabinet meeting.

“The UAE’s diplomacy, led by my brother Sheikh Khalifa, may God protect him, is characterised by its equanimity and poise as well as its ability to produce ideas and solutions in international forums at all times,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

“We seek to position the state as a pioneer in the development model and a key player in the dissemination of the values​ of peace, dialogue and tolerance across all our diplomatic efforts.”

The UAE’s existing mission to the EU is a chancellory headed by Sulaiman Al Mazroui, who has been ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary since March last year.

The upgrade to a permanent mission will mean an expansion of the diplomatic services offered.

The UAE opened an Emirati mission at the Nato headquarters in Brussels, the first Arab and Arabian Gulf country to do so.

Giorgio Starace, Italy’s ambassador to the UAE, said he was “very happy” about the latest announcement.

“It represents the result of UAE continuing engagement in the dialogue with the European Union and an important step to further strengthening cooperation and mutual awareness,” Mr Starace said.

He said it would “create a new important channel between the UAE, the EU institutions and the EU member states. This new channel will bring the UAE even closer to Europe and to Italy, which is a very positive achievement for a friend and supporter of the UAE like Italy”.

The Cabinet decision comes after the EU’s decision earlier this year to establish a mission in Abu Dhabi.

In January, Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, announced the plans for the UAE embassy.

Baroness Ashton said 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”.

Her spokesman, Michael Mann, said Abu Dhabi had been chosen because of the UAE’s strong ties with the EU.

A senior EU official said the mission would serve as a fully fledged embassy, unlike other EU delegations around the world.

“Previously the delegations had representatives, not ambassadors, limiting the political role they had. This embassy will have an EU ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and will have a trade mission,” he said.

The EU embassy has opened in Abu Dhabi and is awaiting the arrival of its new ambassador this month.

Patrice Bergamini, head of the service’s directorate for the Middle East, North Africa and Arabian Peninsula, said that the choice was also a result of the UAE’s transparency and level of commitment in tackling terrorism.

“Compared with other countries, the UAE has preferred transparent ways and channels to support economically and financially the democratic process and has engaged countries like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia,” he said.

In Brussels last week Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Cooperation, chaired discussions between the UAE and European Parliament and praised the strengthening of relations between the two.

“The strategic importance of relations between the EU and the UAE cannot be doubted and is reflected in our common values and shared perspective,” she said.

She re-affirmed that the foreign policy of the UAE was firmly based on the solid and clear principles of mutual respect, promotion of cooperation and peaceful solutions to conflicts.

amustafa@thenational.ae