The Foreign Ministers of the eight Damascus Declaration states (Egypt, Syria, and the six GCC members, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, U.A.E. and Qatar), issuing a communiqué at the end of their twelfth session in Damascus, stressed the need to boost cooperation amongst themselves in view of the great challenges facing the Arab world.
The communiqué confirmed the unanimity of their countries’ stand on the Middle East peace process on the basis of international legitimacy, UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 425, the principle of land-for-peace, and the guarantee of all the national and political rights of the Palestinian people. Praising the positive atmosphere of the Syrian-Israeli talks which resumed on Wednesday, the ministers: “applauded Syria’s position and affirmed their full support to the serious efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive peace based on Israel’s full withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 lines, and out of southern Lebanon”. They reaffirmed the need for Israel to implement international resolutions regarding the city of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in occupied Arab lands on which the Jewish state continues to build in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. They also stressed their support for the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, and renewed their commitment to making the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf free of all types of weapons of mass destruction, insisting that Israel must join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect its nuclear establishments.
The communiqué called on Iraq to commit to UN Security Council resolution 949, and expressed concern at reports that the Iraqi regime continues to produce bacteriological and chemical weapons, while reiterating sympathy with the Iraqi people in their ongoing distress for which the Iraqi government is to blame.
The eight ministers expressed sorrow that Iran still fails to respond to repeated calls by the UAE for a peaceful solution to the occupation of the three UAE islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs by referring the issue to the International Court of Justice.
Referring to recent actions by Turkey involving polluted water from a Turkish irrigation project being allowed to flow into Syria, and dams on the Euphrates River being built without consultation with either Syria or Iraq, the ministers called upon the Turkish government to stop the pollution and to share the river waters in line with the agreement of January 20, 1993.
The communiqué expressed concern at the recent dispute between Yemen and Eritrea over the Hanish islands, and called for an immediate halt to all military activities, stressing the importance of free and safe navigation in the waters of the Red Sea.
Regarding the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the ministers expressed the hope that the Dayton agreement would lead to durable peace in the area, and urged the international community to extend support and assistance to the Bosnian people in rebuilding their war-ravaged republic.
Discussing the phenomenon of violence and international terrorism, and criminal acts perpetrated in the name of Islam which in fact contradict Islamic principles, the ministers reaffirmed their condemnation of all types of terrorism, denouncing malicious campaigns to instigate turmoil and sabotage that threaten the security of the member states.
The communiqué expressed concern over the tragic situation in Somalia, calling on all involved to look to the greater interest of their country and cooperate with both the Arab League and the Organization of African Unity in order to realize national reconciliation.
Grave concern was also expressed over the continued bloodshed both in Afghanistan and in Chechnya, and the communiqué called for the initiation of dialogues between the warring factions in each of these areas in order to reach just solutions to the crises.