Annual Reception 2016
- January 21, 2016
In tropical temperatures and to get in tune with the weekend, the members of EMA gathered in the capital. There they celebrated the 8th anniversary of EMA together with selected guests from economy, politics and society, after they had been able to significantly contribute to the planning for the EMA year 2017 at the preceding general meeting.
Among the approximately 100 participants were numerous representatives of Arab embassies as well as German ministries and associations. The President of EMA, former Federal President Christian Wulff, emphasized how special it was that EMA was not only able to gather numerous excellencies and representatives of the embassies of the EMA region on this occasion, but also succeeded in welcoming ambassadorial couples on three occasions: The reception was attended by the German Ambassador and the Ambassador to Germany from Tunisia, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates.
In his welcoming address Mr. Wulff criticized that the Maghreb is not taken seriously enough so far and in this context he praised the work of EMA and its regional offices in Casablanca and Tunis. He called for a stronger dedication to this region and to enrich it with investments and ideas. At the same time, he also stressed the importance of German presence in the Gulf countries. In the EMA region, the opinion of Germany was quite high. An important task for the future is to maintain this perception and to work for more cooperation.
The EMA President then spoke out strongly against “borders, walls and isolation”. The future of the countries in the EMA region could not be a matter of confrontation, but had to be characterized by cooperation. In this context the EMA has a key role as a bridge builder. Thus, it can contribute to remain open for discussion even in difficult times and to create mutual understanding for each other.
Afterwards Dr. Andreas Reinicke, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Tunis, gave a current situation report from Tunisia. He emphasized that Tunisia was in the process of transformation from a dictatorship to a democracy. Since this is something new in the Arab world, the country still has a long way to go. With the words “The glass in Tunisia is not half empty, but half full” Dr. Reinicke expressed his confidence that Tunisia will master this difficult transformation process. As a positive example, he cited the current cabinet reshuffle, which is taking place in an “intensive democratic process”. With the help of this cabinet reshuffle, the 89-year-old president of Tunisia is attempting to carry out a generational change in the government that he is striving for and to contribute to the country’s economic recovery. The latter includes simplifying administrative structures, fighting corruption and introducing decentralized, market-economy structures. This process would create numerous opportunities for German entrepreneurs.
As an ambassador who had just returned from Abu Dhabi, Dr. Eckhard Lübkemeier reported on his experiences in the progressive Gulf country. He positively emphasized that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were politically stable, economically dynamic and relatively open in terms of religion. He said that they have undergone a phenomenal development over the last 50 years, with much of today’s wealth being attributable to oil reserves. However, the UAE was one of the few countries in the region to recognize early on that diversification was necessary and is therefore already in the middle of this process. The UAE has a relatively well-developed banking and financial sector and has been able to establish itself as an international hub for tourism. With regard to the other countries in the region, Dr. Lübkemeier concluded his speech with the words “In this respect, an experiment could take place in the UAE that could be groundbreaking – for others as well”.
Most recently, Dr. Volker Berresheim, recently appointed Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Djibouti, called on those present to personally convince themselves of Djibouti’s strategically attractive location and investor friendliness. The 3rd German-Arab Logistics Forum of EMA in Djibouti and Ethiopia in early October 2016 could be the ideal occasion for this.
EMA President Christian Wulff closed the annual reception with the words “Stay with us, we would like to make a difference with you” and thus once again emphasized the ambitious goals of EMA.
At the following networking buffet with a breathtaking view of the Reichstag and the Chancellery, inspiring discussions were held and plans for the coming EMA year were made.