EU Arabic spokesperson says Saudi Arabia’s role in fostering peace in the region is essential
RIYADH: Luis Miguel Bueno, the EU’s first Arabic spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa, discussed his mission in strengthening relations between the EU and the region through the Arabic language, and highlighted the Kingdom’s role in fostering peace in the region.
“We need to understand that the role of Saudi Arabia in fostering peace in this region is essential,” Bueno told Arab News.
“We believe that our partnership with the Saudi authorities is key to move forward in terms of building a solution that is sustainable,” he added.
During his interview with Arab News, Bueno discussed the recent visit of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell to the Kingdom, where he held talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in AlUla on Jan. 8.
Bueno said that Borrell has visited the region four times since the start of the war in Gaza.
“He (Borrell) is in charge by the council of ministers of the European Union with doing whatever he can to avoid an escalation.
“We believe in the European Union that there is a real risk of escalation in the region, in particular in Lebanon, so he went to Lebanon to have meetings with the leaders in the country and political parties to try to assess the situation, but also to pass the message that it is in no one’s interest, even less so in Lebanon’s interests, to have any sort of escalation,” Bueno said.
“This is the same message that he passed to the Israeli government in fact when he visited Israel.”
Bueno said that Prince Faisal was invited by Borrell to attend the meeting of foreign affairs ministers on Jan. 22 in Brussels along with the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan, and the secretary-general of the Arab League.
He said the idea behind the meeting is to work together with Arab partners to come up with a solution to the war in Gaza.
“We have been talking about a peace process for 30 years, and there is no peace and there is no process.”
Discussing his role as the spokesperson in Arabic of the EU, Bueno said that this has probably been the best job of his life so far.
“To be honest, it has been really interesting; it’s the first time that there is an official from the European Union that is in charge with communicating with the Arab world in Arabic,” he said.
Bueno said that there is “a great interest in communicating with the region in the language of the region.”
Discussing why the EU decided to have an official spokesperson in Arabic instead of other languages such as Russian or Chinese, Bueno said: “We are neighbors; we have links that are political, economic, cultural and that are historical in many, many ways.”
He said communicating with a person in their language helps build mutual understanding and cooperation.
Bueno said his major goals included promoting people-to-people relations between the Arab world and Europe.
“My goal is officially to communicate about the projects, policies, and initiatives of the EU, that mostly have to do with the region, but it also to engage with the media in the region and also with the people to promote people-to-people relations,” he said.
“What I’m trying to do is know much more about the culture that is behind the Arabic language and also try to communicate this to Europe, to my colleagues in Brussels and Europe, and tell them more about what I hear in the region, the point of view of the Arab person.”
Bueno said that he hopes to see more movement in terms of companies and entrepreneurs between the two regions.
“A part of my job is also in a way to promote the Arabic language, and I think that is an important part of what I do and I am doing that in Europe, too.
“What I’m trying to do is highlight in Europe the importance of Arabic as a language in our heritage, because the heritage of Arabs in Europe is part of our common heritage and that is something that we need to understand if we want to understand each other,” he said.
Bueno concluded the interview by saying that he wants to be a part of the promotion of dialogue and understanding between Europe and Arabic-speaking countries.