Press Releases EU-GCC: Opening speech by High Representative Josep Borrell at the High-Level Forum on Regional Security and Cooperation

EU-GCC: Opening speech by High Representative Josep Borrell at the High-Level Forum on Regional Security and Cooperation

Good evening to all our distinguished guests, it is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to the first-ever High-Level Forum on Regional Security and Cooperation [between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council].

I am particularly pleased by the high level of participation on both sides. This is testament of the importance that we attach to our relationship. It also reflects our common willingness to reinforce our dialogue on security and the cooperation between the European Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and our respective Member States.

Of course, Iran’s retaliatory attack on Israel one week ago is still on everybody’s mind. This attack, as well as the one on the Iranian diplomatic installation in Damascus, were both strongly condemned from our side. These events can lead to further escalation in the region. And as you also did, the European Union unanimously calls for restraint.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council has just politically agreed on sanctions [on Iran]. We need to do more – certainly. We should all focus on redoubling our efforts to de-escalate the very tense situation by using the channels we have with actors in the region. Our discussion – our meeting – is therefore a very timely occasion to see how concretely we can work collectively to calm the situation down.

Let me stress that in times of turmoil and escalating tensions, peace and multilateralism are challenged in both our regions, and we need more than ever to work together to resolve the crises, to prevent escalation and support a safer, and more stable international environment.

We, as the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council, share a lot of interests and we have converging views on many topics. We can do more together, we want do to more together. To achieve this goal, we need these kinds of dialogues in order to share perceptions and perspectives.

On the EU side, we have adopted in May 2022 a Joint Communication on a strategic partnership with the Gulf, and appointed in June 2023 a new EU Special Representative for the Gulf, Luigi Di Maio, to whom I am thankful for having organised today’s event. This reflects the high level of ambition that we have for our partnership on many topics, including – and in particular – security.

We met last October in Muscat – these were dramatic days – for a successful Joint Council and organised our first EU-GCC Structured Security Dialogue in January. There are concrete avenues for increased cooperation in crucial sectors such as maritime security, cybersecurity, counter proliferation, fight against terrorism and disaster preparedness were identified.

Today, we will have the opportunity to be even more operational and discuss openly cooperation and topics of shared interest in relation to our security including on the Middle East, the dramatic situation in Gaza, in Ukraine, the dangerous situation in the Red Sea, and many other issues.

We will also have the opportunity to hear from our partners about the Gulf Cooperation Council’s vision on regional security. We are very much waiting for this vision, we very much welcome this vision, that conveys a strong message of unity and lays the foundation for a strengthened cooperation of the GCC with its partners. And we are very much honoured to be one of them.

We look forward to continuing our cooperation. In that regard, I am pleased to announce that, next month already, we will have the launch of a new “Young Leaders in Regional Diplomacy” Programme. For the first time, young diplomats from the GCC and the GCC Member States will participate in a joint training with diplomats from the European Union and the European Union Member States who are currently taking place at our recently created European Diplomatic Academy, close to Brussels, in the historic city of Bruges. As you can see, we are already laying the foundations for increased cooperation between our diplomats in the future.

And this will be a cornerstone for getting closer to each other, to understand better each other and to work better together in the future.

I would also like to mention and welcome the adoption by the [European] Commission this morning of decisions that will allow to harmonise the rules on the issuing of multiple-entry visas for GCC countries.

I will stop here and leave the floor to my co-speakers but before that, I want to thank you all for being here today and tell you how much I am looking forward to our discussion. Because this is an important moment for our relations.

Thank you.

Link to the video:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *