EU — Statement by Catherine Ashton on EU-Gulf Cooperation Council

State­ment by Cather­ine Ash­ton, fol­low­ing the EU-Gulf Coop­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC) Joint Coun­cil and Min­is­te­r­i­al Meet­ing,
20th April 2011
Cather­ine Ash­ton, the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Euro­pean Union for For­eign Affairs and Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy and Vice-Pres­i­dent of the Com­mis­sion, made today the fol­low­ing state­ment: “Today’s was a con­struc­tive and use­ful meet­ing at a cru­cial time.

The EU and GCC have many com­mon inter­ests. Today has shown how impor­tant it is to dis­cuss these issues and lay the foun­da­tions for clos­er dia­logue and coop­er­a­tion, at all lev­els. Recent devel­op­ments in North Africa and the Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la are a clear demon­stra­tion of the need for clos­er dia­logue between the EU and GCC.

I was able to brief min­is­ters on the poli­cies we in the EU are pur­su­ing in our south­ern neigh­bour­hood and the wider region.

The Euro­pean Union’s posi­tion on the changes going on is clear: we con­demn vio­lence. The only way to make progress is through dia­logue and reform.

We agreed on the need to respect human rights and all fun­da­men­tal free­doms. Obvi­ous­ly, the world’s atten­tion is focused on Libya, and we dis­cussed the cri­sis at length. Last week, Qatar host­ed the first meet­ing of the Con­tact Group on Libya.

The Euro­pean Union remains res­olute in seek­ing a rapid polit­i­cal tran­si­tion in Libya. 

We believe that the Gaddafi regime must leave pow­er to allow the Libyan peo­ple to deter­mine their own future.

The EU has react­ed swift­ly, pro­vid­ing human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and putting eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal pres­sure on the Gaddafi regime.

Once the imme­di­ate cri­sis is over, the EU stands ready to sup­port the Libyan peo­ple in the longer term.

We are work­ing in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with all our inter­na­tion­al part­ners — includ­ing the Arab League, the African Union, the Unit­ed Nations, the Organ­i­sa­tion of The Islam­ic Con­fer­ence – and the GCC.

This is impor­tant for the EU, which rec­og­nizes the lead­ing role of our Arab and African part­ners. The first pri­or­i­ty must be the pro­tec­tion of cit­i­zens, and clear­ing the way for human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance – Europe has already pro­vid­ed near­ly 100 mil­lion euros in human­i­tar­i­an aid. The only solu­tion to the Libyan cri­sis is a polit­i­cal one – empow­er­ing the Libyan peo­ple through demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es. Here, the Tran­si­tion­al Nation­al Coun­cil is an impor­tant inter­locu­tor. We are not inter­est­ed in dic­tat­ing to coun­tries, but in assist­ing where we can.

I lis­tened today to the GCC’s insight on these events and oth­ers in the region, and the frank dis­cus­sion we had was very useful.

I want to rec­og­nize the valu­able con­tri­bu­tion the GCC is mak­ing to help resolve the cri­sis in Yemen. On Iran, we expressed con­cern and urged Iran to play a con­struc­tive role in the region. Today we also dis­cussed the Mid­dle East Peace Process. I debriefed min­is­ters on my work with the Quar­tet. We agreed that it is now more urgent than ever to make urgent progress.

I just met his Majesty the King of Bahrain.

I stressed the impor­tance of get­ting a mean­ing­ful dia­logue going, as the best way of meet­ing the aspi­ra­tions of the people.

This dia­logue must start as soon as pos­si­ble with­out pre­con­di­tions and with full respect of human rights and fun­da­men­tal freedoms.

It has been a very valu­able meet­ing today. I look for­ward to the next Min­is­te­r­i­al Meet­ing that will be held in the EU next year.

In the mean­time, I look for­ward to get­ting on with the prac­ti­cal work in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the coun­tries of the EU and the GCC

Thank you” 

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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