Abdullah bin Zayed praises Australian society

SYDNEY, 21st February, 2015 (WAM) — On the occasion of his official visit to Australia, the influential daily newspaper “The Australian” yesterday published an opinion article by UAE Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The full text follows.

Five years ago, I paid my first official visit to Australia as Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates. I saw an inspiring society that embraces its diversity and plurality as a source of pride and strength. I stood in awe of a nation whose commitment to the values of peace, justice and respect for others is a model for all to follow.

The whole world felt the strength of the ethos of Australia in December last year. The terrorist attack on Lindt Cafe? targeted Australia’s values as much as it did the innocent victims. But the Australian people defeated this evil design. Their unity in the face of the crime filled us with admiration as we shared in their grief and outrage.

Today, Australia continues its battle against terrorists who pose a collective threat to us all. Its participation in the international coalition against ISIS is a valuable effort. It is also a potent message that the world stands united in defence of our peoples and our convictions.

In the United Arab Emirates, our commitment to this fight is unwavering. On the military front, our pilots are attacking ISIS enclaves in Syria. Recently, we have intensified our military effort by deploying an F-16 squadron nearer to the battlefield in Jordan. Along with our allies and partners, we will not stop until we eliminate the terrorists’ ability to wreak death and destruction.

Equally strong is our resolve to defeat extremist ideologies. We will not allow these terrorists to become the face of our great Islamic faith and distort its values of peace and respect for the sanctity of life and human dignity.

Nor will we allow them to dictate the narrative about our region. The UAE is writing a different story that reflects the inclusive and peaceful spirit of our religion and realises the potential of our people.

We are constructing schools, hospitals and museums. We are building bridges of cooperation with countries near and far, as we march on a path towards the progress that is an inherent right for every human being.

Thousands of Australians are among people of 200 nationalities who are building and walking along this path with us. We are defeating the terrorist message by offering a viable model of a peaceful, pluralistic and successful society that offers hope and opportunity to all those who seek them.

Terrorists prey on young minds broken by hopelessness, injustice and indignity. Hence, we are also determined to work with our regional and international allies on tackling conflicts pushing people into the abyss of despair.

The tragic crisis in Syria has provided ISIS and other terrorist groups with the chaotic conditions that feed their growth and expansion. Finding a political solution that meets the legitimate right of the Syrian people to live free from fear, displacement and oppression is essential to achieving the necessary triumph against ISIS.

With the same urgency, the international community must also back its military campaign against ISIS in Iraq with support for the new drive to ensure an all-inclusive political process that guarantees equality for all Iraqis.

It is essential that we also cooperate with moderate political forces in Yemen and Libya to find solutions that correspond to the aspirations of their people. No less important is supporting the economic recovery of Egypt, whose stability is a cornerstone for regional peace and security.

As we address these new regional crises, however, we must not lose sight of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which has caused more suffering and has triggered more wars than the region can endure. Its resolution on the basis of the two-state solution, which guarantees statehood for Palestinian and security and acceptance for Israel, will end an injustice which extremists have exploited for decades.

In all these difficult but essential endeavours, Australia has been an able and committed partner. We value its role in efforts to bring peace and stability to our region, and to defeat the forces of evil, whose threats and brutality stop at no border and belong to no religion or civilisation.

We are also proud of the partnership we have forged with Australia in economic, cultural and educational fields. The UAE is Australia’s largest trading partner in the Middle East. Almost a thousand Emirati students are enrolled in Australian universities, while over 360 Australian companies operate in the Emirates.

This partnership will develop further not only because it derives strength from the mutual benefits it generates. It will also grow because it is rooted in our shared commitment to a stable, prosperous and peaceful world that upholds the right of all people to “a fair go.”