10 May 2017, Wednesday
His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development attended the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the European Union, in honour of Europe Day, held exclusively for students and faculty at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA), the UAE’s leading institution specialising in international relations, diplomacy, education, executive training and research.
14 high-level representatives of embassies of EU member countries in the UAE were welcomed at a gala ceremony at the Academy in honour of Europe Day, a special celebration of the 60th anniversary of the European Union. The event offered a unique opportunity for EDA students to engage in closed, in-depth discussions with leading diplomats on academic and diplomatic topics during roundtable sessions. This event also provided students a platform to share experiences from their recent delegation visits to the Netherlands and Belgium, and to put their skills into practice.
On the occasion, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development said that the UAE is a land of peace and religious tolerance, where everyone lives in harmony and peaceful coexistence with each other despite different religions and beliefs, stressing that the state established a policy of tolerance, moderation and respect for others values. The UAE has always encouraged a strong relationship with our European counterparts. And this occasion highlights the achievements of the European Union, one of the UAE most valued partners.
His Excellency Patrizio Fondi, Ambassador of the EU, led the delegation. Among participating ambassadors were Her Excellency Dominique Mineur, Ambassador of Belgium, His Excellency Dionyssios Zois, Ambassador of Greece, His Excellency Liborio Stellino, Ambassador of Italy, His Excellency Frank Mollen, Ambassador of the Netherlands, His Excellency Jan Thesleff, Ambassador of Sweden. More distinguished guests included Dr. Joseph Pirotta, Charge d'Affaires at the Maltese Embassy, Mr. Ondřej Soukup, Czech Consul and Deputy Head of Mission, Ms. Anna Gawlik, Polish Consul, Ms. Marjaana Ettala, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Finland, Mr. François Penguilly, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of France, Mr. Justin Ryan, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Ireland, Mr. Loïc Bertoli, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Luxembourg, and Mr. Gabor Gubicza, Deputy Head of Mission of Hungary.
The event highlighted the importance of advancing relations between the EU and the UAE that have lately grown from strength to strength, especially since the simplification of visa rules that have provided more open travel for UAE national throughout the 34 European countries party to the Schengen agreement, and continued improving bilateral trade.
In addition, EDA students participated in a lively roundtable discussion with the prominent guests on the Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy as well as the impact of Brexit and the current political situation in France on the Union. Attendees at the ceremony got a glimpse into the history of the EU since the formation of its predecessor, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), in the aftermath of the Second World War.
His Excellency Patrizio Fondi added: “It is a great honour to celebrate this occasion in the presence of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, and with the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, where young Emiratis are inspired to be the leaders of tomorrow. The role of young diplomats is crucial to promoting peace, solidarity, tolerance and unity. This occasion marks the origins of the European Union and the challenges it faces in the world today.
For his part, His Excellency Bernardino León, President of EDA, said: “Our Academy was greatly honoured to welcome His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan for this special anniversary. EDA seeks to enhance understanding across cultures and countries to help forge stronger, closer relations with a diverse range of nations, including our friends within the EU. The exchanges of ideas, such as the EDA students' trip to Brussels and The Hague pave the way for future cooperation and common projects.”
Speaking on the importance of marking the anniversary of the EU, he added: “The UAE shares many common values with the Union. Tonight’s ceremony demonstrates the Academy’s unwavering commitment to supporting the strong ties between the UAE and the member countries of the EU. Furthermore, the roundtable discussion adds great value to the learning experience of our participating students.”
Europe Day is an annual celebration that is held by the European Union during the month of May, and it is held to raise awareness of the Union, the development of European integration, defense of human rightEns, parliamentary democracy and rule of law. 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, and was one of the most important founding treaties of the modern European Union.
The UAE and the EU have long held a diplomatic relationship centred on shared political and regional goals. Working together, this bilateral relationship focuses on ensuring global stability, implementing strategies to address issues that include, trade, energy, environment, climate change, security, among others.