Mogherini commends Amir’s wisdom, hails Kuwait as force for peace
KUWAIT: The EU’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said yesterday the bloc is increasing its engagement in the Middle East, as she opened a new mission in Kuwait City. The office in Kuwait’s tallest skyscraper is the third such EU mission in the Gulf, after Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. “This also sends a message to the whole region; the European Union is increasing its presence and engagement in the Middle East,” Mogherini said at the opening ceremony. “What happens to the Gulf matters to Europe and what happens to Europe matters to the Gulf,” she added.
The ceremony in the Al Hamra Tower, which is also home to the French embassy, was attended by Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah. The opening, decided several months ago, comes amid a tense standoff between the United States and Iran which has affected the Gulf. “In a moment of regional and global tensions, Kuwait is a voice of wisdom and force for peace and this is what made us natural partners,” Mogherini said. Kuwait has strong relations with Brussels and Washington and, unlike Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, it maintains good ties with Tehran.
Mogherini also hailed HH the Amir’s leadership and wisdom. “I would like to thank you for your leadership, wisdom and I know it is not easy times,” Mogherini said in a press statement following a meeting with the Amir. She also appreciated the attitude and efforts of Kuwait to defuse tensions and promote cooperation in the region. “We admire and support the attitude and the efforts that Kuwait is deploying to invite everybody to calm rationality to deescalate a tense situation and to provide space for cooperation in the region that is also the European Union’s position and we support this effort in all possible ways,” she said.
Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said the opening of the EU mission in the country is a culmination of the successful cooperation between the two sides. The EU is a key partner in trade, investment, energy, education, health, and many other sectors, he said in a statement. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled stressed Kuwait’s keenness on this partnership, noting that EU’s presence in Kuwait will offer wide avenues of cooperation. Kuwait and EU had made great strides in dialogue on issues such as security, energy and human resource development, he said, pointing to memoranda of understanding and deals signed on such levels.
Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled commended the participation of the EU during the past few years in donors’ conferences for Syria and the Iraq, which were hosted and co-chaired by Kuwait. Kuwait is counting on EU’s efforts in the region to bring peace, he said, adding that Kuwait shared such responsibility with the EU. The previous Arab summit was the main step for the Arab-European cooperation, he explained, as the Gulf-European cooperation has made important and great strides during the last period.
Mogherini said that the EU was working with Kuwait on several issues in the region. She mentioned EU’s involvement in the presidency of the International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq and the union’s contribution in helping the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) during its financial crisis. The EU and Kuwait have been among the strongest supporters of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon as well as children in Yemen, she said. Now, by launching a full diplomatic presence in Kuwait, EU opens a new chapter in its partnership, she added.
The goal is to continue strengthen political dialogue and economic cooperation, especially supporting the New Kuwait 2035 vision, Mogherini indicated. The EU delegation also seeks to build bridges between Kuwaiti society and European citizens, she said. “You have taken the role of mediator which requires courage; you demonstrated this attitude and leadership in the UN Security Council, especially your mediating effort and role in the Gulf,” she said, adding the EU and Kuwait are finding themselves on the same side of history at a time of peace and mediation.
By Ben Garcia