A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration said the joint communiqué signalled a commitment by both governments to develop friendly, peaceful and cooperative relations.
The Cook Islands and the United Arab Emirates have shared a number of engagements including visits by the Cook Islands to Abu Dhabi to attend the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly and World Future Energy Summit 2018, the Blue Economy Summit in January 2014, World Economic Forum in November 2012 and IRENA meeting on renewable energy in 2012.
More recently relations have developed further through reciprocal support for respective international candidatures, with the Cook Islands confirming support for the candidature of the United Arab Emirates to the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2017 via the Cook Islands Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the IMO, Captain Ian Finley, in London. The United Arab Emirates confirmed support for the Cook Islands candidature to the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2017 – 2021, where the Cook Islands contested a seat within the Asia Pacific Group.
The Cook Islands government and the government of the United Arab Emirates are now working towards finalising a bilateral air services agreement which will allow international commercial air transport services between the respective territories.
“Given the Cook Islands ambition to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy coverage across its 15 islands before 2020 and coupled with the UAE’s technology and capabilities in the field of renewable energy, the formalisation of diplomatic relations is of significant importance for the Cook Islands. (That is particularly so) in assessing the potential technical capacity development and support that could be provided by the United Arab Emirates and IRENA, an inter-governmental agency that is responsible for promoting the adoption of renewable energy worldwide,” the statement said.
More than 11 renewable energy projects currently running in the Pacific are supported by the UAE, which is focused on environmental programmes that deliver renewable energy solutions for developing nations that are community-focused.
“Today’s signing signals an important step in the ongoing evolution and strengthening of the Cook Islands international persona and, in partnership with the United Arab Emirates,” said Cook Islands Acting High Commissioner and acting High Commissioner Karo Ngatoko. “I am particularly pleased by the prospect of further collaboration in the areas of renewable energy and climate change mitigation.
Foreign secretary Tepaeru Herrmann said diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates opened “vast opportunities for the Cook Islands, especially relating to renewable energy, the oceans, the environment and energy and the opportunity for cooperation programmes in these areas.”
The Joint Communique was signed in Wellington, New Zealand at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates by Ambassador for the United Arab Emirates, His Excellency Saleh Ahmad Alsuwaidi and Ngatoko.
The United Arab Emirates is the third Middle Eastern country to formalise diplomatic relations with the Cook Islands, bringing the total number of Cook Islands diplomatic partners to 50 countries and the European Union.