– Russia is a key political and economic partner in the endeavours to realise the comprehensive development of the Middle East and support its stability, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said during the opening speech of the 4th session of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum in Abu Dhabi, which he presided over today.
In his speech, Sheikh Abdullah also referred to Iran’s adoption of a sectarian approach and its support of terrorist and extremist groups, while endangering stability in the Arab world by interfering in its affairs He opened his speech by welcoming Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign minister, Ahmed Abul Al Gheit, Secretary General of the Arab League, Arab Foreign Ministers and other delegates attending the Forum.
Sheikh Abdullah also praised the growing Arab-Russian cooperation, saying trade between the two sides rose to about US$ 15 billion.
“Still, such cooperation remains below our ambitions, given the huge potentials Arab countries and Russia have, particularly in the areas of agriculture, industry, tourism, energy, renewable energy, transport, telecommunications, environment and technology transfer,” he added.
He called for further efforts by business and industrial sectors to explore more opportunities for joint investments that are protected by advanced and flexible legislations to allow smooth flow of capitals, and to address obstacles relating to customs and taxes.
“our region and the whole world endured several crises and conflicts during this decade. That led to the emergence of new and gruesome forms of terrorism and extremism, which wreaked havoc on Arab states and squandered opportunities for development,” he said.
“The past few years,” he continued, saw an unprecedented collapse of stability in the Middle East that required rallying efforts of the international community to find solutions to the crises.
“In this context, we recognise the importance of strengthening ties of friendship and cooperation between Arab countries and Russia, and to develop them into a true partnership. We believe that Russia is a key political and economic partner, capable of playing an effective role in the efforts to realise the comprehensive development of, and maintain stability in the region.
Sheikh Abdullah went on to say that terrorism and extremism have become a global plague that endangers the age old Arab values, including respect for diversity and tolerance.
“This is further aggravated by the Iranian intervention in Arab affairs and the dangers it poses on regional security and peace,” he noted.
He added that such an intervention needs to be addressed to prevent its expansion into the Arab region.
“This is clearly evident in Iran’s continuing occupation of the UAE’s three islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa,” he explained.
Sheikh Abdullah also said the Iranian adoption of a sectarian approach and policy, and its support of extremist and terrorist groups, endangers security and stability in the Arab world.
The Foreign Minister lamented the international community’s failure to address the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and its flagrant violation of the rights of the Palestinian people.
On the situation in Yemen, he stressed the importance of committing to supporting its legitimacy, and maintain the country’s unity, as well as reject Iran’s intervention in its internal affairs. He also stressed his support for a political solution in Yemen, based on GCC initiatives and Yemeni dialogue, as well as international resolutions, including the Security Council resolution 2216.
Sheikh Abdullah referred to the dangerous situation in Syria and Iran’s intervention which undermined the political solution for the Syrian crisis.
Sheikh Abdullah also welcomed the Libyan political agreement, which was reached in Skhirat, among the different Libyan parties, saying there was no alternative to dialogue to address difficulties facing implementation of the agreement.
He went on to express his concern over the deteriorating economic situation in Libya, and emphasised the need to continue providing humanitarian aid to all areas in Libya.
Sheikh Abdullah then expressed hope that the Arab-Russian Forum will support the Arab measures, aimed at maintaining sovereignty and territory integrity of Arab states.
At the end of his speech, the UAE Minister welcomed again the Russian Foreign Minister and praised Russia’s stances in support of the Arab world, and thanked President Vladimir Putin of Russia for his keen interest in deepening ties with Arab countries.
In his speech, Lavrov expressed sincere gratitude to the UAE for hosting the Forum.
“We met in Moscow a year ago, when the last session of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum was held. We approved a Plan of Action to implement the principles, aims and goals of our joint mechanism for 2016-2018,” he said.
“It is gratifying that the majority of this plan s provisions are being implemented in practice and are facilitating both cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Arab world and the efforts to settle the many conflicts that, regrettably, have emerged in this region. I mean Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq,” he added.
He also highlighted the need to cooperate to counter terrorism and to prevent funding of terrorist activities.
It is of importance to continue working for the destruction of terrorist organisations military and economic potential and, of course, to counter the funding of terrorism, he said..
He continued by saying that showing more resolve in combatting the spread of terrorist ideology and radicalisation is another essential task. Russia has submitted to the UN Security Council a draft resolution on combatting terrorist and extremist ideologies.
“We hope that these efforts too will be coordinated with our Arab friends. Russia firmly believes that traditional religious denominations are the key allies states can rely on as they seek to counter the spread of terrorist ideology and prevent people from becoming radicalised. We attach great importance to promoting dialogue among civilisations as part of global efforts to preserve traditional values and counter all forms of intolerance, discrimination and attempts to achieve superiority.
Ahmed Abu Al Gheit said the historic ties between the Arab world and Russia provide a solid base for building a bridges of cooperation and for establishing a true partnership in political, economic, cultural, social and scientific fields.
He applauded Russian recent efforts in the Middle East and in the Arab world.