New 'Gulf Union' delayed
Differences of opinion on the formation of a Gulf Union - which would supersede the existing GCC and bring member states even closer together - mean the project will not happen overnight, said Bahrain’s Foreign Minister.
Talks have already taken place on increased military, economic, political and security ties, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told the parliament, according to a report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
The plan was first mooted by Saudi monarch King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at the GCC Summit in Riyadh last December.
However, he added a "union committee" overseeing the proposal would not rush into major decisions and acknowledged the process was not a straightforward one.
"We need to reach points of agreement and that's a tough effort," he said. "Not because member states don't want transition, but because we need common ground. There are some objections from certain members on certain issues that differ from one aspect from another and for that, goals have to be set."
Meanwhile, the minister reiterated that any move to form a more unified Gulf bloc would not affect the sovereignty of member states and said it would be foolish to rush into decisions.
"The union will not affect the independence of each member state, it will only unify projects and efforts," he said. "We are working at a steady pace as a co-operative council and have, in 30 years since its initiation, achieved a lot. We shouldn't speed things up because of an enemy that is threatening us and causing conflict within."
The minister said the GCC was already operating as a single bloc on several levels, but stressed that any change in relationships should be managed "carefully" - particularly since the GCC was already a confederation.
"We are one and will always stay so, but wise decisions require wise thinking," Shaikh Khalid said. "The GCC is building on what's already cemented. We are not throwing something out and coming up with something new and transition should be done carefully, rather than being rushed."