GCC chief calls for political reform

  • 22 March 2011

Abu Dhabi: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries need to push the pace of political reforms so that they will match the pace of social, cultural and economic changes, said the chief of the six-country Gulf bloc on Monday.

"The success in modernisation achieved by the GCC countries in the last decades and their ability to understand the aspirations of their citizens asserts the importance of going ahead with the political development at a greater pace to match social, cultural and economic changes," said Abdul Rahman Hamad Al Attiyah, the outgoing Secretary-General of the GCC.

Addressing a regional security conference organised by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), Al Attiyah said the six GCC countries were witnessing considerable social and political reforms and progress at an uneven pace.

"The political modernisation in the GCC countries has never stopped, however the reforms progress at an uneven pace from time to time and from one country to another, in line with their political and social realities," Al Attiyah said.

He added that despite the different approaches to political modernisation adopted by different GCC countries, they have a common political will to achieve harmony between the pace of reforms and political and social stability.

Praising the political dialogue in Bahrain, Al Attiyah said the comprehensive national dialogue among children ensures that problems will be solved through reform.

"Dialogue is a safety valve for protecting gains and strengthening citizenship away from any religious or factional struggle to prevent any foreign intervention," Al Attiyah said.

Al Attiyah said the population of the GCC countries is expected to reach 53 million by 2020. This requires creating more jobs for an increasing numbers of young graduates. Al Attiyah said there is a need for more public participation in common decision-making in the GCC.

Prince Turki Al Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz, Chairman of the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies also agreed. He said the Arab world had been hit by a political tremor over the last few months.

Prince Turki called for members to reconsider the goals of the GCC, saying that the Gulf bloc should be transformed like the European Union. It should have a Gulf Armed Forces and develop nuclear power.

He also urged GCC countries to compromise their national sovereignty in favour of a common Gulf sovereignty. He called for the adoption of reforms necessary to maintain stability and promote Gulf citizenship.

Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, said that the Arab world was experiencing exceptional circumstances that would have significant and long-term implications for the region as a whole.