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Nathalie Goulet: ‘We Have to Look at Saudi Arabia As Exceptional Partner’

Nathalie Goulet: ‘We Have to Look at Saudi Arabia As Exceptional Partner’

Sunday, 8 April, 2018 - 12:15
Nathalie Goulet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during her visit to Riyadh earlier.

Chairman of Parliamentary Group of France and the Gulf Countries and member of the French Senate Nathalie Goulet knows closely Gulf countries since and has visited them all many times, especially Saudi Arabia.

In her interview with Asharq Al-Awast, Goulet presented her vision of Saudi Arabia and stressed the importance of understanding the modernization and openness steps taken by the Saudi leadership and France's need to respond to them.

When asked about the years of strategic partnership between Saudi Arabia and France and how to assess them, Goulet said that these relations are excellent as there have been strategic partnerships in political, military and economic fields.

“Beyond talking about the contracts and numbers, I think that Saudi Arabia is facing strategic sectoral challenges such as sustainable development, sports, youth and tourism... In these sectors, France has extensive and recognized expertise and therefore can benefit the Kingdom and push these relations forward,” Goulet explained.

She also talked about the current bilateral cooperation in the war on terror and money laundering. “I had the honor to contribute to this cooperation,” she said.

In this context, Goulet added that a Saudi delegation that recently visited Paris held a series of meetings with a number of concerned financial institutions.

She stressed that the visit reflects the political will to combat terrorism, calling on all parties to let go of the stereotypes against Saudi Arabia and look at this country objectively.

“If I have the opportunity to say a final word about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is the following,” Goulet said, explaining that “after two years Saudi Arabia will be chairing the G-20 summit, and today we must consider it as an exceptional partner and be proactive in its openness and development, including the social reforms on which it has been working.”

“In societal matters, we must always bear in mind that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is guarding the two holy mosques, and it applies the basic rules of Islamic law.”

“We must respect the sovereignty of states, but this does not prevent us from expressing our opposition to the death penalty,” Goulet stressed.

Responding to a question in regards to the visit’s political aspects, especially the tense areas in the region, including the situation in Syria and Iraq, the war in Yemen and the conflict with Iran, and whether Saudi Arabia and France share a common vision, Goulet said that this common vision is available indeed, especially on regional issues.

“Perhaps the launching of Iranian missiles on Saudi territories shows how urgent the security issue is in this region, and how important it is to take it into consideration along with the Iranian policy.

Asharq Al-Awsat asked Goulet if she considered the nuclear agreement with Iran, which Riyadh firmly rejects, an obstacle to the strengthening of Saudi-French relations. She responded by saying that one of the constants of French diplomacy is that Paris speaks to everyone. “But the recent visit of Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to Tehran showed the limited rapprochement between the two countries, which would be difficult to overcome”.

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