UAE a catalyst for stability in region, says European Commission vice president

The Emirates was recently elected for a third time to the UN's Human Rights Council

European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, who is visiting Expo 2020 Dubai this weekend, speaks at an event in Brussels. Photo: EPA
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The UAE’s recent election to the UN Human Rights Council for the third time reflects the country’s "increasing international presence", a vice president of the European Commission has said.

Margaritis Schinas described the UAE as "a pole of power, influence and inspiration", state news agency Wam reported.

As the vice president of the Commission for promoting the European Way of Life, Mr Schinas is in the UAE to attend events of the EU Honour Day, at Expo 2020 Dubai, taking place on Saturday at the pavilions of the bloc's member states.

"The outcome of the UNHRC vote is the culmination of the UAE’s efforts to strengthen human rights and freedoms and is a testament to the importance the UAE places on human rights and in achieving sustainable development at both the regional and international level," he said.

The UAE can be deeply proud of the work it undertook alongside its partners in the international community to assist the Afghan people on humanitarian grounds
Margaritis Schinas, European Commissioner

"The UAE’s increasing international presence and the normalisation agreement with Israel show that the UAE acts as a catalyst towards increased stability in the region. The United Arab Emirates is undoubtedly a pole of power, influence and inspiration."

Mr Schinas is entrusted with overseeing the integration of migrants and refugees. He said he believed the international community could continue to count on the UAE’s contribution to the current Afghan refugee crisis.

"The EU held a high-level forum on providing protection to Afghans at risk on October 7, 2021, where we announced that we will put in place a specific, multi-annual support scheme for Afghans as our contribution to the global efforts," he said.

"I am confident that the international community will also be able to continue to count on the UAE’s contribution to offering legal, safe and organised pathways to Afghan nationals. I think the UAE can be deeply proud of the work it undertook alongside its partners in the international community to assist the Afghan people on humanitarian grounds.

"The EU has also been dedicating all its efforts to ensuring the quick evacuation of those in need, having managed to assist nearly 10,000 people’s evacuations under our Civil Protection Mechanism before the airport closed."

Situation in Afghanistan

An Afghan woman wearing burqa walks past a Taliban fighter at the heavily patrolled market in Kabul on October 24, 2021. Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

However, the EU official expressed his concerns over the situation in Afghanistan despite all the international efforts.

"The situation in Afghanistan remains of concern and requires a determined and concerted response to its many dimensions. It is clear that we cannot abandon people in immediate danger in the country," he said.

"Journalists, NGO staff and human rights defenders are among those who are most at risk, women and children in particular. Evacuations should continue, as far as this will remain possible in the difficult evolving circumstances."

Speaking about Expo 2020 Dubai, Mr Schinas said the event offers the opportunity for people to reconnect and gives "new perspectives through music, gastronomy, architecture and culture".

This global fair, he said, "allows us all to discuss and find solutions to the common challenges we face. As a global community, we need these opportunities to come together and build a common momentum to tackle imperative issues such as climate change.

"In Europe, we know that global challenges require global solutions. And that is why we are here at Expo 2020; to contribute to meaningful conversations and partner up with world partners and people to tackle global challenges – in a spirit of cooperation and co-creation."

Expo 2020 a post-pandemic marvel

He commended the Emirati authorities for the "outstanding organisation of this first global post-pandemic event," saying that the Expo "reflects this country’s ambitious vision and global aspirations."

Mr Schinas said he is optimistic that the event will prove to be the beginning of going back to normality after the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I do hope that this is a marker of the shape of things to come. Europe is the most vaccinated continent in the world and the UAE has had an extremely impressive vaccination programme with more than 85 per cent of the population fully vaccinated," he said.

"This is why the EU added the UAE to the list of safe third countries on October 8, which should also facilitate travel to Dubai and the Expo."

He said the UAE was in the process of being linked to the EU Digital Covid Certificate, which would further open up travel and boost economies.

"However, there is still a lot of work to ensure vaccines reach all corners in the world," said Mr Schinas.

"The EU is leading the way and has already exported over one billion doses to third countries and we count on the UAE to team with up us in this endeavour."

Updated: October 24, 2021, 7:41 AM