About Us United Arab Emirates

Statement by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed AlNahyan

Minister of Foreign Affairs

United Arab Emirates

Mr. President, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to H.E. the President of Kazakhstan: not only for the hospitality and friendship he and his people are bestowing upon us in hosting us here, but also for the vision and foresight that led him to propose the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), now almost twenty years ago to date. Interaction and Confidence Building specifically cater to intra-Asian relations and focus efforts toward enhancing pan-Asian development.

On a number of issues, Asian countries already successfully interact to build common responses to common challenges. Asian countries have recently come together over Afghanistan. The Istanbul-process aimed at security stability in the Heart of Asia is the most eminent illustration of this intra-Asian cooperation. Insecurity in Afghanistan has repercussions far beyond its borders and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council will be directly affected by any instability origination from there. Asain-owned approaches are very important to ensure progress, notably since the wider international presence is scheduled to be significantly diminished from 2014.

Maritime piracy and threat to the safety of sea lanes in Asia, is another prime example where Asian countries, notably around the western Indian Ocean, cooperate. The United Arab Emirates has assumed a leadership role on this issue, organizing two high-level international conferences in Dubai, bringing together public and private stakeholders. In doing so, the UAE has greatly benefitted from the experiences of countries dealing with maritime piracy in the Strait of Malacca.

However, Asia still faces problems that stand in the way of realizing its full global potential. Allow me to identify three issues that are close to the UAE’s interest and that would benefit from confidence building mechanisms, also in an Asian context.

Firstly, the UAE continues to suffer from the occupation by Iran of three UAE islands in the Strait of Hormuz. In spite of this illegal occupation, the UAE has always been willing to submit to international mediation or direct negotiations to reach a solution for this destabilizing conflict with potentially far-reaching international consequences. However, Iran’s unwillingness to engage has so far has obstructed any progress since 1971. Let me repeat the UAE’s position: we are willing to submit to international action, including through the UN, the International Court of Justice, or any international mediation or direct bilateral negotiations.

Secondly, the humanitarian situation in Syria, as a result of the current regime’s intransigence, is deteriorating by the day. In addition, humanitarian suffering is increasingly exported, since neighbouring countries are hosting vast numbers of refugees. The UAE and other Gulf countries have taken their responsibility, offering financial and in-kind assistance. Syria and the region will be served by a transition to a new Government and international sanctions are the best option to weaken the current regime. The Arab League has been at the forefront of implementing these. But the gridlock in the UN Security Council is obstructing effective international action. While acknowledging recent positive steps by the Asian members of the P5, the UAE urges them to further reconsider their positions and support the transition.

Thirdly, the international community should not ignore the situation in Palestine. While reasonably calm at the moment, the situation there will eventually deteriorate as the Peace Process becomes stagnant. Israel’s continuing settlement activity stands in the way of any lasting solution.

Overall, Asia – with its vast variety of people and cultures – benefits from projecting an image of tolerance and diversity. While strongly adhering to the principle of non-interference, the UAE feels that individual Asian Governments have a responsibility to take care of minorities within their territories. In this respect, I would like to express my deep concern regarding the incidents of sectarian violence in Myanmar and I call upon all countries in this meeting to urge the Government of Myanmar to stop these violations of international law.

Thank you very much