(Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)
The Friends of Yemen met today under the co-chairmanship of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and the Republic of Yemen to discuss Yemen’s political transition, humanitarian situation, economic and security reform, and restructuring the Friends of Yemen group.
Opening the meeting, Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
I am delighted to welcome you to London for the seventh Friends of Yemen Meeting, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government and of course on behalf of my colleagues, the Ministers of State Alan Duncan and Hugh Robertson.
Over the past four years we have achieved a great deal. We’ve worked closely together to build stability and counter terrorism and promote development in Yemen, and I want to thank all of the countries and organisations represented here today for your unswerving commitment, for your generosity.
I want to pay tribute in particular to our co-chairs, the Foreign Minister of Yemen, HE Dr al-Qirbi, and Deputy Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, HH Dr Prince Turki, for their leadership, and I want to pay tribute to the Gulf Cooperation Council, whose initiative helped to pave the way for transition in Yemen.
We have now reached a pivotal moment in that transition. As everyone here knows, Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference has concluded, a National Authority for implementing its conclusions has been formed and work is underway to develop a new constitution that should lay the foundation for the democratic, secure and prosperous future we all wish to see for Yemen and for its people.
But we are also all very conscious of the significant challenges that remain.
Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is still a threat both within Yemen and internationally, while other groups continue to use violence to disrupt Yemen’s transition and I was very concerned to hear of the attack on a German Embassy vehicle in the last couple of days.
The humanitarian situation remains severe with millions of Yemen’s people unsure where the next meal will come from.
The economy is extremely vulnerable, particularly as attacks on oil pipelines have reduced government revenues.
And the process of constitutional reform and preparing for free and fair elections will require difficult decisions and compromises and considerable international support.
So, I believe that the work of this group, of the Friends of Yemen, remains critically important and, at a time of multiple crises in the world, we must be clear that Yemen remains a priority for the international community. Without determined efforts there is always a risk that political progress in Yemen could be reversed and the threat from terrorism could expand to the detriment of all of our countries.
We know that a successful transition will require strong leadership in Yemen and coordinated and generous international support to produce progress in three particular areas: security, governance and the economy.
First, we must all continue to support stability and to counter terrorism, including through reform of the security sector.
We have to be clear that the international community will not tolerate acts of violence or other actions intended to derail Yemen’s transition; and Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula must have nowhere to hide.
And that is why at the Security Council we passed Resolution 2140 establishing a Sanctions Committee and a Panel of Experts to ensure that those who threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen, or violate human rights, pay the price for their actions and we must support the work of those bodies.
Secondly, we must all support the process of drafting and adopting a strong and inclusive new constitution. A free and fair referendum on the draft constitution and national elections are vital stepping stones towards the democratic and peaceful future that the people of Yemen want to see.
And third, we must all support the economic growth that is so urgently required to reduce poverty and to address humanitarian needs. I commend the Friends of Yemen, and particularly our colleagues in the Gulf, for their generosity, but only a fraction of the humanitarian appeal for Yemen for this year has been funded and it is essential that we all meet our commitments. We must also help the government of Yemen to undertake the vital reforms it needs to attract investment and create sustainable growth.
So, I wish you well in your discussions today on our shared political, economic and security objectives. I warmly welcome His Excellency Dr Al-Qirbi’s initiative to create three working groups to coordinate activity, build support, and ensure that our commitments are translated into effective action on the ground.
I believe that Yemen has entered a decisive and delicate phase in its transition and there remain many challenges. But the people of Yemen have clearly called for reform, for respect for human rights, for a political settlement that will allow them to overcome division and build a better future together. So we must help them to bring this about.
It is my pleasure therefore to open these proceeding and to hand the floor to Dr Al-Qirbi to speak next.