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Amir heads to Egypt today to take part in Arab-EU summit

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah

KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is heading with an official accompanying delegation to Egypt today to participate in the Arab-European summit, scheduled to take place in the city of Sharm El-Sheikh. The EU-Arab summit is held amid aspirations to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the Arab League and the European Union to promote regional and international security and stability. The two-day summit is the first of its kind between the two sides, especially in light of their emphasis on the importance of dialogue between the Arab and European regions.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, whose country is hosting the summit, stressed that this is an “excellent opportunity” to find common ground to address regional issues. “The Arab world is Europe’s first partner,” Sisi said during a meeting at the Munich Security Conference last week. Sisi noted that Sharm El-Sheikh summit is an “important step” for the development of relations between the two sides, pointing out that stability and security in the Arab region is affected by stability and security in Europe.

Greater cooperation

Klaus Iohannis, the current president of the European Union, also stressed the importance of the first EU-Arab summit in light of the need for deeper and greater cooperation. Iohannis affirmed that it is the time to hold a summit of European and Arab leaders, expressing optimism that all problems could be resolved through joint action and dialogue on regional crises, migration, economic development and security cooperation.

On February 17, the European Union said that the EU-Arab summit, to be held under the chairmanship of Egyptian President and European Council President Donald Tusk, aims to strengthen relations between the two sides. The summit will focus on a number of common issues and challenges, the most important of which are multilateralism, trade, investment, migration and security, in addition to the situation in the region, said the EU in statement.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a joint press conference at the end of the Brussels meeting that the two sides pledged to make additional efforts to ensure the implementation of UN resolutions, the Security Council and various related initiatives, especially the Arab peace initiative in the Middle East. EU High Representative for Foreign, Political and Security Affairs Federica Mogherini affirmed that the two sides “agree” on 95 percent of all issues under discussion.

During the press conference, Mogherini pointed to the “conformity” of the positions of the EU and the Arab League on the most important current regional crises, noting that the two sides agreed on finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria and their adherence to the two-state solution in the Middle East peace process. She noted that the ministers focused in the joint meeting, which she described as “good and constructive” on the regional and international challenges facing the two parties, including “terrorism,” climate change, migration and the human rights situation in the world.

Kuwait participated in the joint ministerial meeting in Brussels with a delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. The EU-Arab summit is likely to address a number of regional issues and common challenges affecting the Arab and European regions such as the situation in Libya, the Syrian crisis, the peace process, combating terrorism and illegal immigration, as well as ways to enhance cooperation between the two sides in various fields. Observers see the importance of establishing the first EU-Arab summit bases of institutional and permanent cooperation between the two sides in the framework of a strong partnership that meets the aspirations and interests of both sides to promote peace, security and prosperity in the two regions.

New horizon

The meeting of European and Arab leaders in Sharm El-Sheikh is historic in all sense of the word. The summit between the 28-member European Union and the 22-member League of Arab States (LAS) will bring together for the first time ever heads of state or government from both sides. Mogherini lamented in a recent press conference in Brussels that “with the League of Arab states we never had a summit before and this is the paradox of our region.”

“This is our closest partner in terms of regional dimension, in terms of geography, history and cultures,” she said and noted that the EU holds regular summit with Asia, African Union, Latin America, China and the US , but “we never had a summit with the Arab world.” A senior EU official told journalists in Brussels Friday that leaders from both sides will seek to strengthen Arab-European ties. They will address a wide range of issues and common challenges, such as multilateralism, trade and investment, migration, security, the situation in the region including Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Libya.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that 24 EU leaders out of 28 will be present at the Sharm El-Sheikh a clear indication of the high importance and value that Europe is attaching to the two-day meeting. Tusk will represent the EU along with the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Mogherini and the EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Johannes Hahn will also attend the summit.

A common past, geographical proximity and interdependence have contributed to strengthen cooperation between the EU and the Arab world. Working together will also further enhance the multilateral, rules based global order, said the official. “The key word is engagement and this summit is not against anybody,” clarified the official. “We do not see eye-to-eye on all issues as we see reality in different terms. But we agree that there can be no military solutions (to the regional crises),” said the EU official.

The two sides are working on the text for the final statement expected to be released by the summit. Foreign ministers from the EU and the LAS held a meeting in Brussels on February 4, 2019 to prepare for the summit. “Whatever happens in the Arab world affects Europeans and whatever happens in Europe affects the Arab world. We have the responsibility of joining forces to find common solutions to common challenges,” Mogherini told reporters after that meeting. – KUNA

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