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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Saudi-EU ties enter new phase

Ghazanfar Ali Khan

RIYADH: Relations between Saudi Arabia and the European Union entered a new phase with the Riyadh-based European Commission Delegation changing its name to the “Delegation of the European Union to Saudi Arabia.”

EU officials also announced that Abdulrahman H. Al-Atiyah, secretary-general of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), would pay an official visit on Dec. 22 to Sweden, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

Ambassador Luigi Narbone, chief of the Delegation of the European Union to Saudi Arabia, said on Tuesday that the new name of the local EU office reflected the changes that would enhance external representation provided by the Lisbon Treaty. Narbone pointed out that the Delegation of the European Commission was established in Saudi Arabia in 2004 and is also accredited to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

He pointed out that the Riyadh-based delegation would work to enhance the visibility of the EU in the Gulf region and promote closer ties with the GCC states.

The EU delegation office will also encourage people-to-people interaction and highlight Europe’s cultural and linguistic diversity, promote European higher education and facilitate cooperation in science and technology.

Narbone said, “The change will ensure better cooperation between the EU and Saudi Arabia on the one hand as well as between the EU and the other Gulf states. More changes in terms of services will be visible after the transition phase of the EU comes to an end early next year.

The European Commission has over 130 delegations and representatives around the world. The names of all these changed as of Dec. 1. The EU today accounts for one-third of the world’s total economic production and has also started to play a greater political role in global affairs.

With the treaty coming into force on Tuesday, EU cooperation becomes more efficient, more active, and its action becomes more coherent especially on regional and international issues affecting the two major blocs — the GCC and the EU.

The EU and the GCC have forged close cooperation on all fronts. In 1989 an EU-GCC accord was signed according to which EU and GCC foreign ministers meet once a year.

Source : Arab News

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