Bahrain-EU relations: a prosperous future

Tomáš Zdechovský
MEP and Chair of the EU-Bahrain Friendship Group

The EU-Bahrain friendship group is one of the leading groups in the European Union focusing on EU-MENA relations. Could you tell us more about the type of work you're doing?

I came to the European Parliament eight years ago, and there were no friendship groups. As I got more involved, we started discussing and getting to know Bahrain better. Now, it is the most significant friendship group in the European Parliament, with more than 30 members.

What has your role been in promoting international cooperation among stakeholders in both regions?

My role as the chair of the friendship group is to be neutral, advise both sides, and speak about what we can do together.   I want to get many more people from Bahrain to explain their position, what they are doing, and what they want to do with the help of the EU. Cooperation is key to moving forward socio-economically.

What type of initiatives have you developed? For example, are you working in line with Pakistan and Europe's vision to create a partnership for the Sustainable Development Goals?

Next year, we will open a business dialogue to encourage European companies to open offices in Bahrain. The first step must be to resolve liberalization, which we are trying to reach in the future. We can bring many more investors and show them that they have many options from every sector.

The Gulf states have undergone significant economic and social changes in recent years. Why are these countries, especially Bahrain, strategic partners for the EU?

Bahrain is a very moderate country which can be seen as a very positive example. It's a very small country, well-developed, and open. Their culture is based on transparency, and this is something I've learnt after eight years of talking with different local stakeholders. Regarding the pandemic and the death rates, Europe has much to learn from Bahrain.

What are your priorities and your ideal vision for the EU-Bahrain Friendship Group?

Bahrain is a country with many opportunities for work as a local or international. There are Catholic communities, Jews and many different cultures are also present, and they accept each other. Before establishing the friendship group, there were constant resolutions against Bahrain in the EU. Today, there is only a bright future ahead of the cooperation of both regions.