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European, Arab leaders urge for closer cooperation to face common challenges

European, Arab leaders urge for closer cooperation to face common challenges

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during the second EU-Arab Summit in Athens, Greece, on Nov. 9, 2017. The second EU-Arab Summit taking place on Thursday and Friday in the Greek capital under the auspices of the Greek presidency is entitled "Towards a Stable Alliance" and aims to build more bridges of dialogue and collaboration between Europeans and the Arab world. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

by Maria Spiliopoulou

ATHENS, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) --- European and Arab leaders on Thursday during a forum hosted in Athens called for closer cooperation between the two sides to face common challenges and promote growth and prosperity for all.

The second EU-Arab Summit taking place on Thursday and Friday in the Greek capital under the auspices of the Greek presidency is entitled "Towards a Stable Alliance" and aims to build more bridges of dialogue and collaboration between Europeans and the Arab world.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in his opening speech that for geopolitical and historical reasons, Greece is the best springboard for this bid to strengthen Europe's ties with the Arab world.

The Greek leader underlined his country's role as a pillar of stability and peace in the region and invited the Arab world to invest in Greece.

"Greece today is not only a geopolitically crucial country, but also a very attractive destination for investments. Greece creates important opportunities for shared economic growth, future cooperation in the wider region and holds a significant role as a pillar of peace and stability," he said.

Many of the major challenges Europe is currently facing can be addressed only through comprehensive policies and through the strengthening of relations with the Arab world, keynote speakers representing both sides stressed.

"We need to talk to each other because the interests of the European Union and the Arab world are closely intertwined. Many of us meet as neighbors. We are sharing the same challenges and opportunities on security, terrorism, irregular migration, climate change or economic development and trade," said Maros Sefcovic, European Commission Vice-President responsible for energy issues.

He noted that "the turbulence we see in many parts of the Arab world has repercussions in Europe as well."

"Our priority should be the enhancement of regional and multilateral mechanisms for stability and security, but also economic cooperation," Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said addressing the event, arguing that economic growth can create political conditions for stability in the broader Mediterranean region.

"We are meeting here at a significant conjuncture for the whole world...There are opportunities to be taken from times when instability starts creeping in. Protectionism seems to be raising its head again, borders are slowly being sealed both politically and economically," Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat noted, calling Europeans and Arabs to open up economic partnerships and cooperation in all fields.

"Constant communication and mutual understanding are crucial to maintaining the fruitful historical relationship the Arab world and Europe have actually enjoyed for thousands of years," Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates, said on his part.

"We can learn a lot from our forefathers who, contrary to what we hear from the news or learn from the media nowadays, they shared a genuine desire to build a united, global civilization that all of humanity could enjoy and benefit from," he stressed.

Egypt's Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil, as well as officials from Jordan, Qatar, Iraq, Algeria,the Arab League, businessmen and scholars, expressed willingness and confidence that through deepening cooperation, Europe and the Arab world will overcome all obstacles.

[ Editor: meng ]