In the final communiqué of the 21st meeting of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Manama, Bahrain, issued on December 31, 2000, the GCC leaders first expressed their happiness for the safe return home after medical treatment abroad of President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zaid Bin Sultan Al-Nahayan.
Reviewing economic, social, political, military, security, cultural and media developments, the Supreme Council, although satisfied, stressed the desire and will to advance the progress of the GCC in line with regional and international changes in order to achieve the ambitions and goals enshrined in the Council's Charter. It also stressed the importance of continuing joint efforts to enhance the GCC states' security, stability and development.
The Council directed the specialized committees to speed up the agreement on by-laws and regulations and the necessary procedures to set up the scheduled Customs Union, praising the steps taken by Bahrain to lower tariffs. The Council approved a common stabilizer for GCC currencies as a first step towards achieving the goal of their unification, and directed the various committees to set up a working program according to a fixed timetable to accomplish this goal, including mechanisms and procedures to facilitate operations in the GCC markets. In addition, it was agreed to empower GCC citizens to practice all economic activities in any GCC member state, with the exception of a few activities that are reserved for citizens of that state. It was also agreed to extend the guidelines for the unified customs law for one more year, making implementation compulsory effective January 2002.
The Council endorsed the system of veterinary quarantine, making it compulsory, after modification to conform with the systems and regulations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It also approved a long-term strategy for relations and negotiations with regional and international organizations and blocs, and endorsed the declarations of principle for mutual cooperation between the GCC and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
Studying the situation of the oil market, the Council observed with satisfaction the fruits of the efforts exerted by the GCC states in cooperation with other producers, both OPEC and non-OPEC, which were emphasized by the Summit in Caracas to accomplish stability in the market with suitable levels for producers and consumers. They stressed continuation along the same path over the coming year in order to keep the balance of the market and stability of prices for the period agreed upon by OPEC.
In this context, the Supreme Council directed the ministers of oil and energy in the GCC member states to work to decrease levels of production during the next OPEC meeting and to take any other steps to keep the market balanced and maintain the targeted price. The communiqué stressed the importance of cooperation among producers and consumers and praised the outcome of the Seventh International Energy Forum in Riyadh. It welcomed the proposal made there by Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz for a general secretariat to be set up for this forum in order to enhance the dialogue between producers and consumers.
The Council approved equal status for civilian employees in any of the member states during the tenure of service and stressed the importance of continuing to increase employment opportunities for citizens in both private and government sectors. It endorsed recommendations and mechanisms drafted by a joint committee for carrying out a census of citizens and assessing the impact of foreign employees, stressing the importance of taking the necessary steps to implement them.
On legal affairs, the Council endorsed as guidelines for a period of four years the Al-Riyadh document on standard regulations covering penalty procedures, and the Muscat document for unified civil law.
On military affairs, the Council expressed satisfaction over what had been achieved in the area of military cooperation, and endorsed the joint defense agreement signed earlier that day.
On security affairs, the Council endorsed the enhancement of contacts and follow-up mechanisms among the interior ministries to ease movement for citizens and trade, and to combat drugs.
On politics, the Council renewed its call for the necessity on the part of Iraq to implement the obligations of the United Nations' Security Council resolutions pertaining to cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the tripartite committee concerned with finding a speedy final solution for Kuwaiti and other detainees and the return of all Kuwaiti property. The communiqué called on Iraq to cooperate with the United Nations to complete all matters pertaining to weapons of mass destruction and their monitoring, and urged Iraq and the UN Security Council to conduct a comprehensive dialogue to implement these obligations in a just manner in order to facilitate the lifting of sanctions, stressing the need for Iraq to honor the security, stability and sovereignty of Kuwait, to take steps to show its good intentions toward the GCC states, and to exert efforts to establish security and stability in the region.
The communiqué reiterated the GCC's readiness to participate in any humanitarian initiative that contributes to lessening the sufferings of the Iraqi people, and repeated its good intentions to continue efforts aimed at lifting the sanctions imposed by the UN resolutions. The Council stressed the necessity of respecting Iraq's sovereignty and the integrity of its territory, and of not intervening in its domestic affairs.
The Council was briefed on a report from the tripartite committee concerned with setting up a mechanism to initiate direct negotiations through peaceful means to solve the issue of the three UAE islands occupied by Iran. This report includes Iran's rejection to deal with this committee and its refusal of earlier peaceful initiatives from the United Arab Emirates. The Council assigned the ministerial council to formulate a strategy to deal with Iran to bring about an end to the occupation on the basis of support for the UAE's right to the three islands, Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa, rejecting Iran's continued occupation, emphasizing the UAE's full sovereignty over the three islands as undivided parts of the UAE, insisting on non-recognition of any other sovereignty over these islands except that of the UAE, and rejecting Iranian claims to Abu Musa, procedures which Iran has taken in this context, and all other steps that threaten peace and stability and increase tension in the region. The Council stressed its rejection of the continuing Iranian occupation of the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, and condemned Iranian military exercises on the three occupied UAE islands and in adjacent waters. It called on Iran to halt these exercises, which threaten peace and stability in the Arabian Gulf and are a source of great concern as well as doing nothing to help build trust. It expressed its support for all UAE steps to restore its sovereignty over the three islands through peaceful means, and called on Iran to accept referral of the conflict to the international court of justice.
The Supreme Council expressed its condemnation of Israel's attacks against the Palestinian people, and called for their protection from these attacks, reiterating its declared stance pertaining to the establishment of a comprehensive and just peace in the region on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions, notably numbers 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace. The communiqué stressed that comprehensive peace will not be accomplished unless the Palestinian people regain their full legitimate rights and establish their independent state with Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as its capital, and unless Israel withdraws fully from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights to the line of June 4, 1967, and from Lebanese territory to the internationally recognized borders including the Shaba farms, on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions 425 and 426, together with the freeing of all Lebanese detainees and those kidnapped and in Israeli prisons.
The communiqué expressed the hope that the current efforts being exerted lead to a peaceful settlement that restores the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, stressing full trust in the Palestinian negotiators. It called on the international community to exert greater efforts to put pressure on Israel to abide by the principles of the Madrid peace conference.
The Council renewed its call on the international community to work to make the Middle East region, including the Gulf, free from any weapons of mass destruction including nuclear arms. The communiqué stressed the necessity for Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and submit all its nuclear facilities to international inspection.
The Council expressed its support for the Ninth Islamic Summit held in Doha in November 2000. It also expressed appreciation for efforts exerted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz and Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz during the 20th GCC Summit in Riyadh. Expressing appreciation to Emir of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, his government and the Bahraini people for their warm reception and hospitality, the Council announced that the 22nd GCC Summit will be held in Oman in December 2001.