Yemen insists it is qualified to join GCC [Archives:2004/704/Local News]

January 19 2004

A Yemeni government official criticized the statement of Emirate's Information Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan who said that Yemen is not qualified to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
In a statement to Al-Wahda weekly, a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “Yemen, with its historical heritage, its political strength and its strategic importance to security and stability on the Arabian peninsula and in the GCC countries, is qualified to join.”
The official voiced “astonishment” at the Emirati statement, which clearly mentioned that in the short term Yemen was not ready to stand alongside Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as a member of the GCC that was set up in 1981.
“I don't think Yemen could join after a year or two because it would not be in the interest of Yemen or the GCC countries,” said Sheikh Abdullah.
“The European Union spent hundreds of millions of dollars to prepare countries like Greece and Spain to join. It took a dozen years for some countries to join,” he said.
It is worth noting that Yemen has repeatedly sought to enter the club of rich oil countries.
In December 2001, GCC leaders decided in a summit to allow Yemen to join the GCC in areas of health, education, labour and social affairs and participate in the Gulf football cup as part of a gradual integration.
Indeed, Yemen has recently participated in the recent GCC football club and came out in the last spot with only one point from a draw in its team's opening match with Oman.