Inaugurating the 20th session of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh yesterday, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz welcomed the leaders of the other five GCC member states [Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates] and wished the Summit every success.
In his address today to the GCC Supreme Council, King Fahd underlined the need for the member states to forge economic unity and strive for a joint military force. He urged the GCC states to become attuned to the rapidly changing international scenario, saying: "We must read the potential of the future by confronting events with an alert mind." Without this, he cautioned, "We remain on the sidelines, helplessly observing what unfolds."
Turning to the bloodshed in Kosovo and in Chechnya, King Fahd noted that the world has not been able to provide security to people when it is needed. Warning against those who threaten the unity of the Muslim world, he referred to the various areas of civil strife, and to the severe ordeal still being suffered by the Palestinian people, in spite of the fact that they have chosen for themselves a path of peace based on justice. As for the Iraqi regime, he said, it has been adamantly refusing to learn from past mistakes, adding: "We have supported every international effort aimed at restoring peace, out of our humanitarian obligations."
King Fahd went on to urge if not comprehensive Arab unity, at least military unity for the Gulf region, "so that the security of our peoples and states are not subject to the whims and fancies of international interests that are not ours". The world today, he said, in spite of conflicts and differences, is being borne along by the all-embracing tide of globalization, and declared: "We must hasten to become part of this tide in order to have control over its course, benefiting from the good it carries and discarding any harm associated with it."
Referring to the grouping into single blocs of Europe, of the Americas, and of parts of Asia, King Fahd stated that only a united Arab economic entity can deal with this situation. He pointed out that through joint efforts it was possible to bring falling oil prices back to normal, and said that considerable progress had been made toward the establishment of a common Gulf market especially in the last two years. The rapidity of economic change, however, "does not allow us to move at the same old leisurely pace", he said. He stated: "From the two basic pillars of military power and economic unity, backed by full political coordination and joint efforts, we can forge ahead and deal with others without fear and can accomplish for our peoples the security and prosperity they deserve."
Following King Fahd's speech, GCC Secretary-General Jamil Al-Hujeilan paid tribute to the late leader of Bahrain, expressed the GCC's solidarity with Kuwait, and remarked on the happy coincidence of holding the 20th Summit in the year of the Kingdom's centennial. Remarking on how the GCC states have now firmly established their identity in the world, and referring to the liberation of markets through the World Trade Organization, he expressed the hope that the GGC would promote the WTO and contribute to the welfare of the global community.
Meanwhile, the GCC Secretariat General in Riyadh announced on November 25 that it has established a web site, accessible at http://www.gcc-sg.org.