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  HE GCCSG: The Holding of the High-level GCC-EU Forum on Regional Security and Cooperation Indicates the Distinguished Position of the GCC Countries, its Vision and Interest in Strengthening Relations with Regional and Global Countries, and Organisations

General Secretariat - Duchy of Luxembourg
His Excellency Mr Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), stressed that holding the High-level Forum on Security and Regional Cooperation between the Cooperation Council countries and the European Union (EU) is an indication of the GCC’s vision and interest in strengthening relations with regional and global countries and organisations, and its high-level credibility and position among the countries of the world. 

This came during HE the Secretary General’s participation in the High-level Forum on Regional Security and Cooperation between the GCC and the EU, on Monday (April 22, 2024) in the Duchy of Luxembourg. 

The forum was chaired by His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Jassim Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar and President of the current session of the Ministerial Council, and His Excellency Mr. Joseph Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and in the presence of Their Highnesses and Excellencies the Foreign Ministers of the GCC countries and the Union.

At the beginning of his speech, HE the Secretary General said that today’s meeting coincides with very dangerous circumstances and repercussions that have affected regional and international stability, and their repercussions and impacts have spread to different regions in the Middle East, between Israel’s continuation of its inhumane military operations in Gaza and its violation of all international and humanitarian laws, customs and values, by carrying out military operations in some of its neighbouring Arab countries, violating the sovereignty of these countries, passing through the escalation that is constantly taking place in the Red Sea region, and ending with mutual military operations between Israel and Iran, adding that “we are facing a dangerous turning point, for a dark future and catastrophic consequences, if we are not able to deal with these negative developments, on the one hand, if we are unable to convince all parties concerned with these developments of the necessity of immediately ceasing their practices and quickly abandoning their plans and policies that constitute a clear violation of international laws”.

His Excellency stressed the importance of adhering to international law and international humanitarian law, condemning the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, and that all countries stand by the brotherly Palestinian people, calling for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire and halt of Israeli military operations, and to ensure the provision of all humanitarian and relief aid and basic needs to the residents of Gaza without delay.

Moreover, His Excellency also called on the international community to take a serious stance and the necessary measures in accordance with international law to respond to the practices of the Israeli government and its policy of collective punishment against the defenceless residents of Gaza, stressing the utmost necessity to provide international protection for the Palestinian people, protect civilians, and refrain from targeting them. 

“This comes with our categorical rejection of any justifications and pretexts for the continuation of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip,” HE the Secretary General said, while also reiterating the GCC’s condemnation of the ongoing and repeated Israeli occupation of civilian facilities and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, including targeting hospitals, ambulances and their medical teams, refugee camps and schools, and affirming the Cooperation Council’s support for the Palestinian people’s steadfastness on their land and rejecting Israeli measures aimed at displacing the residents of Gaza.

Furthermore, HE the Secretary General also indicated that the situation has begun to take another very dangerous turn with negative repercussions on the security of the region. He asserted that all parties must exercise utmost levels of self-restraint and give priority to wisdom, to spare the region and its people the dangers of war, in light of the recent military escalation that our region witnessed between Iran and Israel. 

Additionally, His Excellency reiterated his call for an international conference in which all concerned parties participate to discuss all issues related to the Palestinian cause, and reach a solution based on ending the Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

With regard to the Yemeni issue, His Excellency referred to Security Council Resolution No. 2722 issued in January 2024, which calls on the Houthis to stop attacking transiting cargo ships in the Red Sea, and therefore it is important to support efforts to build the capabilities of the Yemeni Coast Guard forces, so that they can carry out their role in fighting any groups or militias working to disrupt the security of the region, and to be able to work to preserve the independence and sovereignty of all Yemeni lands and territorial waters, noting the great role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are exerting great efforts to build the capabilities of the Yemeni Coast Guard forces.  

"We look forward to the support of our friends in the European Union in supporting the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, and the United Nations, to ensure the success of the mediation between the Yemeni parties, and to complete the peace process, in accordance with the three agreed-upon references: the Gulf Initiative, the outcomes of the Yemeni National Dialogue Conference, and the resolutions of the Security Council, especially resolution 2216," he stated. 

Moreover, His Excellency affirmed that the situations in Syria and Lebanon remain under the intensive attention of the Cooperation Council. "Regarding Syria, the Cooperation Council has been calling for a comprehensive political solution that guarantees safety and security for all Syrian components and respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254," he said. 

His Excellency also mentioned that the Cooperation Council's position on Lebanon is firm in supporting stability and internal peace, by urging all political actors in Lebanon to work together to overcome sectarian and political divisions and focus on reconstruction and economic development. 

"We also strongly support efforts to strengthen the Lebanese government and its national institutions, which contributes to achieving the aspirations of the Lebanese people for a dignified life and a better future," he added.

His Excellency underlined the utmost importance of maintaining regional stability, as these unfortunate events once again highlight the need to strengthen international cooperation and unify efforts to spare the region from further conflicts and ensure the safety, prosperity, and well-being of its peoples.

His Excellency also shed light on the distinguished GCC-European relations, praising the outcomes of the first regional security dialogue between the Cooperation Council and the EU, which was held at the General Secretariat headquarters in January, in addition, in implementation of the decision of the joint ministerial council to establish this dialogue, with the aim of coordinating efforts between the two sides on regional and global issues, including issues of nuclear proliferation, the proliferation of missiles and drones, maritime security, cybersecurity, combating terrorism and its financing and extremist terrorist ideology, human trafficking and drug smuggling, irregular migration, organised crime, as well as energy security, global food supply security, disaster preparedness, and emergency response.

During his speech, His Excellency also recalled the outcomes of the security dialogue, including the agreement of the two sides to prepare detailed proposals for cooperation in five main areas, namely: maritime security, cybersecurity, combating terrorism, preventing nuclear proliferation, and crisis management as well as emergency response.

His Excellency pointed out that these proposals have been created in preparation for their discussion and finalisation at the next meeting of the working group, and the proposals resulting from this dialogue for the signing of memoranda of understanding between the two sides in the field of combating drugs, the police field, and the field of criminal justice, and discussing the possibility of benefiting from the maritime information exchange programme, training programmes at the European Security and Defence College, and organising joint naval exercises and maneuvers. 

"In order to expedite the implementation of what was discussed at the first meeting of the regional security dialogue, coordination is currently underway to hold the second meeting in the second half of 2024," His Excellency pointed out. 

In conclusion, HE the Secretary General stressed the importance of focusing on elevating today's forum to the strategic partnership that is moving forward to a higher level by discussing regional security issues at this high level, and looking forward to coming out today with proposals that will advance joint work to upgrade the distinguished relations between the two sides, and face the many dangers and challenges surrounding the region, and coordinate positions on various issues in regional and international forums as well as organisations, and develop a shared vision for cooperation on security issues, through coordination, consultation, and mutual understanding, in a way that achieves security, stability, and prosperity, and benefits both sides.