Euro MP Sakellario: “We are searching ways to involve Yemen in various EU assistance.” [Archives:1998/46/Law & Diplomacy]

November 16 1998

The European Union is definitely an important aid partner for Yemen. It provides the country with an annual allocation, on average, of some EU 24 million. This is nearly equivalent to US$ 30 million.
That is why European officials from the Commission and Members of Parliament visit the country, from time to time.
Last week, Mr. Jannis Sakellario visited Sanaa. Jannis has been a member of the European Parliament (EP) since 1984. A member of the Community of Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence policy, Sakellario is also a member of the EP Delegation for “Al-Mashreq and Gulf states (MGS). The group includes Yemen, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
He is also a representative of the Federal Republic of Germany in the EP and a member of the Social Democratic Party in Germany.
Yemen Times Managing Editor, Dr. Salah Haddash, met Mr. Jannis Sakellario, and filed this interview.
Q: What is the purpose of your visit to Yemen?
A. I am here to report on the Euro-Mediterranean Policy. I have presented two reports that have been adopted by the European Parliament. Now, I am preparing the third which will add flexibility to the Euro-Mediterranean Policy. We must participate with all states in the Arabian Peninsula as they have very many interests with the north Mediterranean-coast countries.
Yemen is interested in joining this community. Hence, I came here to have some exchange of opinions with officials in the country.
Q: Whom have you met?
A: I have already met the Prime Minister, the Vice President of the Consultative Council, the Speaker of Parliament and other senior officials and people active in the political and cultural life of Yemen.
Q: What are the interests of the EU in Yemen?
A: At this moment, Yemen is one of the most advanced Arab countries in the development of a democratic multi-party system. This is a very important issue for us. We are prepared to support and endorse the great efforts your country is putting into this democratic process.
Yemen now has many friends and supporters in the EU. Something very precious for the EU is the way you have begun to resolve the problems you have had in the past. Yemen has found good, long-lasting solutions for the problems with Oman and Eritrea, for example.
Q: How can the EU help Yemen in its border dispute with Saudi Arabia?
A: The least thing the EU can do is to try to mediate. As as long as we have excellent relations with Yemen and Saudi Arabia, we should try. There is a need for the EU to help resolve such cases. But if both sides want to solve it directly, than the EP can stay away.
The EU can support, encourage and motivate Yemen to go ahead with the same peaceful way. The EU needs to keep this part of the Arabian Peninsula peaceful, safe and stable – far away from international terrorism which occurs daily in places nearby.
I have very much hope for the way Yemen is unraveling its conflicts with other states in the region. Yemen is an ideal example for any peace-making country which wants to avoid and prohibit organized international terrorism and armed conflicts with its neighbors. This ought to be an example for all other countries.
Q: What are your hopes and ambitions for Yemen?
A: I have expressed the EP wishes to the representatives of the Yemeni Parliament. We have already established extraordinary relations with the Yemeni Parliament, which is considered by now to be within the EP standard system.
Many of my Yemeni colleagues in the Parliament visited Brussels and Antwerp before the last election. My European colleagues in the EP also visited Yemen one and a half years ago.
Q: What joint projects are planned for the future?
A: There are many possibilities for Yemeni MPs to have further and advanced practical stages in the EP in Brussels and Antwerp. I have to speak to the President of the EP and the head of my group to see how we can make the ties with the Yemen Parliament better and stronger.