The EP’s delegation headed by AFET chair David McAllister held an unprecedented visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the State of Kuwait and the Islamic Republic of Iran on 11-15 February.
During the visit, Members discussed the socio-economic situation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as political and security challenges in the region. They held a fruitful exchange of views with Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E Adel Al Jubeir, who stressed the importance of maintaining stability in the region, with particular reference to the various regional crises. Members emphasized the need for a full respect of international humanitarian law and the need for a political solution to the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya. The importance of EU-Saudi relations was also reaffirmed as well as the need to strengthen this relationship through a bilateral cooperation arrangement. Saudi Arabia launched ambitious socio-economic reforms, the Vision 2030 plan, and the EU offered its assistance for its technical implementation.
The importance of cooperation between the EU and GCC was underlined during the meeting with GCC Secretary General, Dr Abdulatif Al-Zayani, and Members stressed the need to re-launch negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement. In several meetings, MEPs recalled the need to respect human rights and raised on several occasions the case of the Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, laureate of the 2015 Sakharov Prize.
In Kuwait, the MEPs were received by the Crown Prince on Monday and praised its crucial role of mediator within the Gulf Cooperation Council, recalling the importance of maintaining its integrity and stability. During the visit, the MEPs congratulated Kuwait for hosting the Conference for the Reconstruction and Development of Iraq, which sends a generous signal of reconciliation with its neighbour.
The need for de-escalation of tensions between Riyadh and Teheran was underlined by Members in the three countries. The delegation commended the role of the Emir of Kuwait in trying to appease tensions.
Members travelled to Iran to continue frank and open exchanges with their Iranian counterparts. Members were received on Wednesday by Speaker Larijani and the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs. MEPs and Iranian MPs agreed to pursue interparliamentary dialogue on a regular basis. During meetings Members reiterated their strong support for the JCPOA and their belief that it is crucial for regional stability. MEPs insisted that areas of disagreement, including human rights, need to be addressed out of the scope of the nuclear deal. Members also underlined the importance of making sure that the EU’s commitment to sanctions lifting is combined with reforms in Iran that guarantee its positive effects are felt in the economy.
The Chair of AFET, David McAllister, declared during each visit: “The EU calls on the promotion of a constructive dialogue among countries in the region, with a need to first de-escalate tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. It is always better to talk to each other instead of talking about each other”. As Chair McAllister stressed, we may disagree on many issues but it is important to engage and build mutual trust.
Composition of the EP’s delegation:
AFET Members: Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, David McALLISTER (EPP, DE), Dubravka ŠUICA (EPP, HR), Jose Ignacio SALAFRANCA, (EPP, ES), Knut FLECKENSTEIN (S&D, DE), Ana GOMES (S&D, PT), Javier NART (ALDE, ES) and Ryszard CZARNECKI (ECR, PL). DROI Members: Lars ADAKTUSSON (EPP, SE), Christian DAN PREDA (EPP, RO), Josef WEIDENHOLZER (S&D, AT), Klaus BUCHNER (Greens/EFA, DE)
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