Brussels Webinar underlines Kuwait’s vital role in healing Gulf rift

Speakers after speakers at a seminar on the Gulf organised by the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula (DARP) heaped praise over Kuwait’s successful mediation role in the Gulf reconciliation process.

The guest speaker at the online event held Thursday evening, Dr. Cinzia Bianco, Gulf Research Fellow on Middle East and North Africa Programme in the European Council on Foreign Relations, said “Kuwait has played quite an important role in facilitating the reconciliation between the GCC partners.” She outlined the positions of Oman and Kuwait in the region calling them “neutral countries” which are focused on mediation and de-escalation in the region.

Kuwait has also been supportive of attempts to pursue dialogue with Iran in the framework of regional security, she said and stressed that Kuwait is a reliable partner for Europe.

Bianca underlined that the Al Ula declaration signed in December “was very important for ending the boycott and was the first step and normalisation will take place step by step” among the six-member GCC.

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is a pan-European think tank with offices in seven European capitals.

The seminar was titled “geopolitical perspectives in the Gulf for 2021. Impact of the Al Ula Declaration on ‘Stability and Solidarity’ and role of the new US administration in regional affairs.” DARP Chair, Dr Hannah Neumann, in her introductory remarks said Al Ula agreement “was concluded under the good offices of Kuwait and here again Thank you so much to Kuwait for working continuously and following up on that issue.” She said a DARP delegation is expected to visit Kuwait this year to boost EU-Kuwait parliamentary cooperation.

On his part, Kuwait’s ambassador to the EU, Belgium and NATO, Jasem Al Budaiwi, in his intervention expressed his pleasure that yesterday’s virtual event coincided with the day when Kuwait was celebrating its National Day.

Al Budaiwi, who is currently visiting Kuwait, said that an important point that needs to be discussed is the future relations between the EU and the GCC.

“We should capitalise on the great momentum we have in the GCC now,” he said referring to the Al Ula agreement.

“It is time that we move on with some tangible results in this relationship which includes the Free Trade Agreement, the Association agreement, waiver of Schengen visa. This is what we would like to see,” stressed Al Budaiwi.

He lauded the “excellent brotherly agreement, reached in December, and added that “we would like to see more engagement and visit from EU leaders and officials.” In his brief intervention, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the EU, Saad Al Arify, said the Al Ula Declaration opened the door for unity and solidarity in the Gulf region.

“It put an end to a family disagreement and return to a complete diplomatic relations which will make brotherly cooperation to continue,” he said.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is always looking forward in cooperating with the international community, the EU and the US for peace and stability in the region, stressed Al Arify.

Qatar’s ambassador to the EU, Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Khulaifi, in his intervention, remembered His Highness the late Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah saying “May God bless his soul.” He lauded His Highness Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s “strenuous efforts in the successful mediation that brought the GCC back to life once again.” “Huge steps have been taken to ease tensions and return back to normal,” said the Qatari ambassador who also thanked the US administration for their support.

Gabriel Munera Vinals, head of Arabian Peninsula and Iraq division in the European External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic service, started his intervention by wishing Kuwait a “happy National Day.” He noted that the EU has been very supportive both publicly and privately of the efforts to overcome the difficulties in the Gulf in particular by “HH the late Amir of Kuwait and his successor more recently.” “We welcome the progress since December and welcome the breakthrough at the Al Ula summit,” he stressed and added that the normalisation will contribute to creating conditions that are more conducive to putting behind the tensions.

The EU is ready to continue contributing to this and ready to resume full range of institutional relations with the GCC, he added.

The GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE

Source: Kuwait News Agency