KUWAIT, Dec 11 (KUNA) -- Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah said Friday achievements of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) surpassed acheivements of other regional organizations by "light years." The achievements of GCC since its establishment in 1981 "exceed by light years what other regional organizations, including the Arab League, have achieved," Sheikh Mohammad said in an interview with Al-Arabiya channel.
He attributed these achievements to the "harmony of the six member states with each other and their common values, also because the foreign threats are common which trigger them to have faster strides than any other regional organizations." Sheikh Mohammad, whose country hosts the 30th GCC summit on December 14-15, said he was very satisfied with achievements of GCC countries. "What makes me very satisfied about the march of cooperation is that peoples of the region are dissatisfied about the pace of unification of programs and policies of our governments." He acknowledged lack of fast pace, "but we always say that at least our steps are steady and confident that we are heading in the right direction, being slow in some paths is required amidst very uncertain situations" in the region.
Sheikh Mohammad said the GCC summit in Kuwait would witness the launch of the GCC Monetary Union which was ratified by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain. Oman has "its own circumstance" as not to join the Monetary Union and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) approved the union "in priciple but for certain considerations" decided to postpone membership, he added.
Asked about the UAE's considerations, Sheikh Mohammad said "it is not a secret that it was a procedural dispute regarding the headquarters of the Gulf central bank," but there is no differences about the establishment of the Monetary Union.
"We hope all the GCC countries join will join by time because these last wagon (monetary union) will lead to the single Gulf currency," he said.
He said unity of the GCC countries will strengthen the bloc as a regional organization but it would take time. He cited European countries' conceding of their sovereignties for the sake of the European Union (EU), which did not happen overnight.
"There is a slow pace compared with what the peoples' want but we are very fast compared with experiences of other regional countries and organizations," said the Kuwaiti top diplomat.
Sheikh Mohammad, meanwhile, said the GCC summit was a gathering for the Arab Gulf countries and "it is not customary to invite anyone from outside" the bloc. He added that other countries' invitation of some parties when they hosted the summit "was an exception and not the rule." Asked if Kuwait has reservations to invite parties which attended previous GCC summits, Sheikh Mohammad said "in principle we always wish that the GCC meetings are exclusive to their leaders specially that all these meetings are closed so they can talk freely and frankly." On the political file of the two-day summit, the Kuwaiti foreign minister said the GCC "is an alliance so we look at the security of this regional organization in the short, medium and long terms. There are current dangers including the border breaches of Saudi Arabia." The GCC leaders will also discuss the Iranian nuclear file and Tehran's position against the international legitimacy, as well as Afghanistan, the African Horn region, Palestine and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position vis-a-vis the peace process.
Sheikh Mohammad said a Yemeni envoy would be delivering a message from President Ali Abdullah Saleh to the GCC leaders. "We welcome the review of the Yemeni visions (over the clashes with the Houthi rebels) during our deliberations." Short-term challenge might need military measures, he said.
Medium-term challenges was manifested in the surge in prices of food, severe fluctuations of oil prices which might elevate to USD 150 and collapse to USD 30 within days, said Sheikh Mohammad.
Sheikh Mohammad, answering a question whether the GCC would help address the debts' issue of Dubai, said "it might be injustice to point the finger at Dubai only because we are all been affected by the economic crisis." He called for shielding the Gulf communities and economies through the completion of the common Gulf market, the rapid implementation of the Economic Treaty -- both at level of custom union and the Monetary Union -- to that "our banking, investment, industrial and agricultural institutions merge together." This will "create a single Gulf economy which can bear foreign shocks with least costs ... So if money needed then solving the Dubai issue should not be a problem," he said.
"Dubai is an important segment and is important to the unity of the UAE and I don't think there is any Gulf countries that will not respond positively to what the UAE ask," he said.
Sheikh Mohammad said the Gulf countries were happy because of the rising oil prices but the GCC states should be ready to deal with lower prices.
On the GCC's views regarding the internal affairs in Iran, Sheikh Mohammad said there have been visits by Qatari Amir, Kuwait's Prime Minister and lastly the UAE's FM to Tehran. Visiting and consultations with Iran are important, he added. "Iran is a big country in this region and any uncertainty in Iran will have impacts on us and our societies." The Kuwaiti foreign minister said the GCC was closely following the internal affairs in Iran but "without interferring because this is an Iranian internal affair, but we emphasize that any uncertainty in Iran will have direct impacts on us." Commenting on the Iranian nuclear file, Sheikh Mohammad said Tehran has to meet requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to guarantee transparency of this file.
He said Kuwait has expressed concern to the Iranian speaker of the Shura Council Ali Larijani, during the Prime Minister's recent visit, that Bouchehr nuclear reactor was closer to Kuwait populated areas than any Iranian populated area. "So our concern and fear is legitimate from this side and we have nothing to do with what others say about this reactor.
"We have a security-related concern from this reactor," said Sheikh Mohammad citing similar worries of the Vienna-based IAEA.
Sheikh Mohammad, however, said Kuwait conveyed a message from the Iranians to the Saudi officials that Tehran "will not arouse acts that divided Muslims ... the Hajj season passed without any demonstrations.
"Naturally we are concerned from media confrontations and we can only be in the same trench of Saudi Arabia," he said.
Turning to Iraq, Sheikh Mohammad said the Iraqi scene was very complicated with the Americans would be leaving Iraq thus handing over all security responsibilities for the Iraqi forces.
The Iraqi security authorities' capabilities are being tested "and we hope the Iraqi security authorities pass this test," he said.
"The evil people are many and the test is not about the ability of the security authorities to maintain the security of the Iraqi citizen only, but the ability of the new Iraqi political regime to preserve its democracy and openness to all segments of the Iraqi community ... ," he said.
Asked about Iraq's debts to Kuwait, Sheikh Mohammad said "Kuwait has never been against the writing off of loans (it extended to Iraq during the defunct regime), on the contrary, we simply said these loans were passed upon request of the former Iraqi government and the request was passed by the Kuwaiti parliament in a public session ... ." He added that the same mechanisms the loans were passed would be repeated if they were to be dropped, hence through parliament, and Iraq "realizes this face specially that it is involved in a parliamentary experience and they realize that ... building confidence needs time and the issue is not about money because money is the last think the Kuwaiti citizen thinks about." The Kuwaitis, he said, wanted to feel safe because they were invaded by the baathist regime "and that was very painful." "I believe the brothers in Iraq realize that the worries of Kuwait are justified, so we are pleased with what we see. We have presented a lot to backing Iraq at the security, political and economic levels ... ," added Sheikh Mohammad.
On the rapprochment between Saudi Arabia and Syria, Sheikh Mohammad said the visit of King Abdullah to Damascus was the culmination of endeavors of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah during his chairmanship of the Arab Economic summit between the Saudi and Syrian leaders. (end) ms.bs