BRUSSELS, June 25 (KUNA) -- The Secretary General of the Organization of
Islamic Cooperation (OIC) , Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu , Tuesday officially opened
the OIC Permanent Observer Mission to the European Union in Brussels saying
the 57-member organization is keen to develop relations with the 27-member
"There is also a growing and developing interest on the highest level in
the EU to cooperate with the OIC," he told the gathering of diplomats and
officials from Europe and the Muslim world present at the inaugural ceremony.
He noted that the OIC is the second-biggest organization after the United
Nations having 57 members in four continents. Ihsanoglou said the OIC signed
an agreement with the Belgian foreign ministry in 2011 to open the mission in
Brussels and in November of the same they purchased the building in which the
office is now located.
"I think our relations with the European Union on the different agenda
items that we share will benefit all of us. There is a need for the
cooperation between the Muslim world and Europe and the OIC as a collective
voice of the Muslim world which stands for modernization and moderation will
be the proper institution to deal with the EU," he stressed.
Hugues Mingarelli, Managing Director for North Africa and Middle East in
the EU foreign service, known as the European External Action Service, said
that EU High Representative Catherine Ashton was to be present at the opening
of the office but she was held up at an EU foreign ministers meeting in
"There are a number of reasons why we should intensify our relations," he
said noting that the two sides have to cooperate to promote "our common values
for tolerance, mutual understanding, respect for belief and religion."
"If we want to be effective in addressing a number of crises starting with
the Syrian tragedy, we have to strengthen our cooperation because alone there
is very little that we can do," he added.
"I hope the opening of this mission in Brussels will be a new milestone in
the intensification of the relations between the OIC and the EU," stressed
Francois de Kerchove, Director of the Belgian Foreign Minister's cabinet,
expressed a "high degree of satisfaction" over the opening of the OIC office
He noted that the EU and OIC share two common objectives which are shared
values and practical issues such as the ongoing tragedy in Syria.
"I hope the EU and the OIC together will be able to address these issues
better, "he said and wished the OIC success in its cooperation with the EU and
For his part, Saudi Ambassador to the EU and Belgium Faisal Trad told the
Kuwait news agency (KUNA), "I believe this is a very important step in the
recognition of the Islamic world."
"I believe the opening of an OIC observer office in the heart of the EU is
a plus to the great work that Islamic countries and the OIC are doing. I
believe the relations between the Islamic world and Europe are very, very
important," said Trad.
He noted that the population of the EU is about 450 million and the Muslim
world population is 1.5 billion and therefore it is important that the EU and
Belgium should have a better recognition and communication with the OIC, he
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