In view of the numerous challenges in the region, from the acute crisis in the Sudan and the long-standing conflicts in Syria and Yemen to the Taliban’s takeover of power in Afghanistan, a dependable dialogue with partners in the Gulf is essential for Germany and Europe. Foreign Minister Baerbock stated the following in this regard:
The Gulf region is a geopolitical hub between Asia, Africa and Europe and its influence extends far beyond the Arabian Peninsula.
Foreign Minister Baerbock will first travel to Jeddah, where the Saudi Arabian Government is based for the summer. In Jeddah, she will discuss bilateral issues as well as questions of regional crisis diplomacy with her counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. Saudi Arabia’s regional engagement has recently been in focus in the Sudan. The Kingdom is mediating between the parties to the conflict with a view to achieving a rapid ceasefire and has played a crucial role in the evacuation of thousands of people from the Sudan.
Foreign Minister Baerbock will therefore also visit the port of Jeddah, where a large number of the evacuees have arrived, as well as engage in discussions with port employees about this issue. The Foreign Minister will subsequently meet artists at a cultural centre. Listening to the voices of civil society in Saudi Arabia is important as they are a crucial force for social change in the region. The human rights situation in Saudi Arabia continues to be very difficult.
The first steps towards liberalisation of society have been a source of encouragement for many young people in Saudi Arabia. I believe that it is therefore only natural that a society that aspires to be a role model for an entire region also listens to the voices of its women – both online and offline.
On the second day of her trip, Foreign Minister Baerbock will meet her Yemeni counterpart Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak as well as UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen David Gressly in Jeddah. The conflict in Yemen, which has now been going on for more than nine years, has largely destroyed the country’s infrastructure. More than two thirds of the population – over 23 million people – are dependent on humanitarian assistance and protection. As one of the world’s biggest humanitarian donors, Germany is committed to helping the Yemeni people. However, a lasting settlement of the conflict is urgently needed in order to bring about a long-term improvement to the situation of the population.
The fact that Saudi Arabia is now focusing on talks with the Huthis in Yemen is a good first step. Only a political solution can bring an end to the inconceivable suffering of the people of Yemen.
Foreign Minister Baerbock will subsequently meet her Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha. They will also discuss regional issues in addition to Germany’s bilateral relations with Qatar. Another topic on the agenda is the normalisation of relations with Syria, which Arab countries are striving for and which, in Germany’s view, must be made contingent upon clear conditions in light of ongoing repressive measures under Assad’s regime.
Furthermore, on the last day of her trip, Foreign Minister Baerbock will hold talks with representatives of the International Labour Organization on the issue of workers’ rights. This issue had come into focus especially in light of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.