GCC talks with EU 'could be postponed'
Manama, June 18, 2014
A top-level meeting between GCC foreign ministers and their EU counterparts next week could be postponed, allegedly due to a controversial UN statement on the human rights situation in Bahrain.
The meeting was scheduled to take place in Luxembourg next Monday (June 23) but GCC representatives are now reported to be boycotting the talks in protest over a statement that was read out at a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Endorsed by 46 countries, this statement praised some "positive steps" that had been taken in Bahrain but expressed concerns over reported cases of violence, harassment and ill-treatment and criticised the fact that the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry's (BICI) recommendations had allegedly not been implemented in full.
A Bahrain delegation present at the Geneva meeting hit back at these claims, saying the statement "failed to take into account the tangible improvements officially documented" and was undermining "the unrelenting and sincere efforts undertaken by Bahrain to carry out its human rights obligations".
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann confirmed to the GDN that next week's meeting had been "postponed", but gave no reason for the decision.
Meanwhile, a Bahrain government source said that the meeting would "likely" be cancelled or attended by lower-level representation, yet said a final decision was pending and declined to comment further.
Foreign ministers from the GCC and EU last held talks in June 2013, at a meeting in Manama co-chaired by Bahrain Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and Ms Ashton.
No one from the GCC Secretariat Council Office was available for comment when contacted by the GDN. -TradeArabia News Service