The Arab Economic Summit,
19-20 January 2009,
State of Kuwait

Statement by H.E Dr. Jean Ping
Chairperson of the African Union Commission
at the Opening Ceremony of the Arab League Summit on Economic and Social Development


Your highness sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah,,,

Emir of the state of Kuwait,,,

Your majesty the kings,,,

Your excellencies the Presidents,,,


Your Excellency Mr.Amro Moussa, secretary general of the league of Arab states,

Excellencies,,,

Ladies and Gentlemen,,,


It is a singular honor and a great privilege for me to address you today at the opening ceremony of the special summit on economic and social development.

 

Allow me first to express my gratitude to His Highness the Emir of Kuwait, the government and people of Kuwait for the warm hospitality extended to us since our arrival.

 

Allow me also to express my deep gratitude to my friends and brothers, H.E Amre Moussa, secretary general of the league of Arab states for inviting me to attend this important summit.

 

At the beginning, I would like to express the firm support of the African union to the people of Palestine in Gaza, and our condemnation of the Israeli aggression against them, which resulted in killing and injuring thousands of innocent people including children and women.

 

The African union has always been in support of the Palestinian cause and legitimate struggle for independence and establishment of its state with its capital eastern Jerusalem.

 

At the same time that we welcome the first seizing in Gaza, we call for a sustainable restoration of peace in all Palestinian territories and that all necessary measure should be taken to ensure access of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. In addition we fully support the immediate action for the reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure. buildings and utilities due to the Israeli aggression.

 

We also call upon the Palestinian brothers and sisters to act quickly for reconciliation and unity in order to attain their main objectives.

 

Your Highness,,,
Your Majesties,,,
Excellencies the Presidents,,,


The important economic and social issues which you are considering at this summit are closely linked to the economic and social development of the African region. This is imperative not only because half of the Arab league member states are members of the African union, but also due to the fact that our two regions are geographically, historically, economically, socially and culturally inter linked. Therefore the decisions taken by either of our two organizations are directly affecting the two regions.

It is important that we revitalize Afro-Arab cooperation in all areas and join hands to address Economic and Social development together in line with the aspirations of the 1977 Afro-Arab summit.

 

Africa is a continent that you can count on. It is rich with its people, natural resources and lands. It has huge resources that need to be exploited jointly by both African and Arab efforts.

 

In addition, the challenges of globalization and the present international financial and economic crisis, are of the same nature and affects on our economies.consequently, we need to coordinate actions in addressing them.

 

As you are aware, peace and security represent major axes of the African union vision and strategic program as a prerequisite for economic and social development. Without peace, development is not achievable.. And without development, peace is not sustainable. In this regard, we appreciate the cooperation of our two organizations in dealing with the conflicts that we are suffering from especially in Darfur –Sudan - and in Somalia. We hope that our efforts will culminate in establishing sustainable peace in the two countries in the nearest future through among others, the provision of more logistical and financial support to the peace keeping force of the African Union and the United Nations.

 

Poverty eradication, reaching the MDG’s, including the development of education, provision of adequate health services, and food security, also are in the forefront of the strategic program of the African Union.

 

This is also an important area in which we need to intensify our cooperation by adopting joint actions and programs. in this regard we would like to underscore our appreciation of the role that the Arab Bank for economic development in Africa BADEA is playing in promoting development program in African countries. We are confident that your summit will take the necessary measure towards the provision of this important institution with more resources to allow it continue performing its mandate more effectively.

 

The development of infrastructure is indeed an important challenge for the African Union that call for cooperation between our two regions, including direct investment in electricity production and connectivity, railways, harbors development and roads building, water resource development, etc.

 

Last but not least, we need to develop our trade relations benefiting from the geographical proximity between our two regions and on the basis of the comparative advantages of our countries. In this connection we need to emphasize the role that the African and the Arab unions of chambers can play in strengthen trade relations between African and Arab countries.

 

We hope that our economic and social development challenges shall be adequately addressed in the forth coming Afro-Arab Development Forum and that the recommendations of such forum shall be endorsed by the 2nd Afro-Arab Summit expected to be convened this year.

 

Your Highness the Prince of Kuwait,,,
Your Majesties,,,
Your Excellencies the Presidents,,,
Ladies and Gentlemen,,,


Once again allow me to express my gratitude to his highness the prince of Kuwait state and to the government and people for the hospitality and warm reception extended to us since our arrival to this beautiful city.

 

I wish you successful deliberations and conclusions.

 

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