The Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in US hosted HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in a virtual seminar, via visual communication technology, on the foreign policy and international diplomacy in the Gulf Region.
In his speech, His Excellency touched on foreign policy and world diplomacy at an exceptional time, as the pandemic of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) affects all countries, saying that human development in Qatar is "at the core of Qatar's home and foreign policy. The strategy of the State of Qatar is based on three main pillars: providing health care, mitigating economic and social impacts, and fulfilling Qatar's international role", His Excellency added.
His Excellency stressed that the government is firmly committed to providing the highest levels of medical care for everyone, adding that over the years Qatar has made significant investments in health care infrastructure, as well as promoting a comprehensive approach to the health of everyone in Qatar. His Excellency stated that Qatar has had a strong health care response in relation to COVID-19, including free tests for the virus; free patients care and designating a number of hospitals for that. "We have one of the highest test rates, so we have discovered a number of positive cases ... Fortunately, and because of the strong health care system in our country, we have the lowest mortality rate in the world," His Excellency added.
On the situation in the Middle East, His Excellency said: "As a result of planning our early crises response, and the integrated approach of the government, we are in a strong and a good position to overcome the crisis." The situation is not all the same in the Middle East, he pointed.
"This is the reason why Qatar's approach to mitigate the effects of (COVID-19), addresses not only local policies, but also includes regional and international support, as the spread of the virus has become a security concern for the region, and therefore we must all unite to support each other."
He pointed out that the State of Qatar continues to provide support to more than 20 countries, in addition to many multilateral organizations, adding that the State of Qatar through multilateral organizations supports initiatives that mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
His Excellency appealed to the international community to work together to combat the pandemic and find vaccines to end its harm, adding "We have organized and mobilized international humanitarian support, including donations of medical aid and supplies to the most affected societies in the Middle East including Lebanon, Palestine, Tunisia, Algeria and Iran."
"Our perspective on the future is shaped by our belief in strong collective work and improving coordination to move forward... The human dimension has always been present at the core of our foreign policy because we believe that preserving human dignity and rights is part of Qatar's foreign policy... We believe that the humanitarian and development assistance we provide worldwide contributes to the security and stability of the world ... This is not limited to a specific region or religion, but it is for all humanity, and we extend our hands to all our friends."
"It will not be possible to face the repercussions of the pandemic without cooperation and coordination at the highest and most comprehensive possible levels."
"In Qatar, we still believe in the power of dialogue and diplomacy ... We believe that the various crises we face in the Gulf region and beyond, including this pandemic, are evidence of the urgent need for a regional security agreement that provides basic stability for the Middle East, instead of imposing exclusion or restrictions, we have a greater opportunity to achieve long-term security through direct cooperation and dialogue that are accountable within a regional security framework."
"If every country in the Middle East joins in good faith and will to commit, then we can create an organized framework, with binding mechanisms and conflict resolution, where all countries will be held accountable for achieving peace and maintaining security."
HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs added that "in the presence of these foundational and binding principles, states in regional can engage in dialogue about real threats that are similar to those we all face today."
In response to a question about US-Qatari relations, His Excellency, said that cooperation between the two countries has not been affected by anything since the beginning of the crisis, especially military cooperation, as Qatar hosts the command center at Al-Udeid Base. "We are still continuing our efforts on regional issues, such as Afghanistan and the Doha talks that culminated in the signing of the agreement between the Taliban and the United States, and we will continue to mediate between the Afghan parties, the United States and the Taliban," he added.
His Excellency pointed out that the State of Qatar has cooperated with the United States to evacuate American citizens on Qatar Airways, stressing, "We did not do that only with the United States. We have cooperated with other countries for the same purpose, and we provided aid to the affected states, such as New York and California, and we believe that relations between Qatar and the United States are strong and there are strategic alliances between the two countries."
On the situation in Afghanistan, His Excellency said: "We know that the path of peace has always been a difficult and not an easy one at all .. That is why the State of Qatar has committed from the beginning and worked to ensure the coherence the negotiating process, overcome the obstacles it faced, bring the parties around the negotiating table, and to strive to reach the primary goal, which is the agreement between the parties. We have always sought to achieve consensus on the fundamental issue of bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan."
Responding to a question about the State of Qatar's vision of the region, especially in supporting youth, His Excellency said: "We see that youth are an important resource in the MENA region, so we seek to support young people in the region, especially in the area of economic empowerment, to create jobs and opportunities for them... As an example of this, we have the 'Silatech' initiative that contributed to employing more than a million Arab youth in various projects.. There is also support for subprograms that we have established such as the Qatar-Tunisia Friendship Fund and the Darfur Fund, which, along with other initiatives, focus mainly on developing and creating opportunities for young generations to establish their own projects that create a productive environment for them .. We provide them with funding for the initial establishment stages and technical support in the subsequent stages ... There is also another initiative that we are working on, the African Union on the issue of immigration from Africa to Europe and the issue of migrants, especially in Libya."
"We agreed with the African Union to establish a fund to return citizens and refugees to their countries and provide them with job opportunities by financing some small and medium projects in their cities. Therefore, the main focus is on providing job opportunities for youth and providing economic opportunities for their countries... This is our approach to foreign policy, and we will continue to follow it to give young people in conflict areas hope for life. "
On the Gulf crisis, His Excellency underlined the international community's awareness that the crisis is built on lies and crimes against the Qatar and its people. "The international community has realized that these lies and accusations have not been proven, yet no one was held accountable, and series of lies continues,"
"Since the beginning of this crisis, HH the Amir was very clear and decisive in his position, which is not to deal with them in the same way that they deal with us .. We have to deal with them according to our ethics and values and according to our responsibilities towards the international community. So we did not reciprocate with any measures they took against us when they blockaded and boycotted us, and prevented food and drug supplies and closed the airspace."
"We are maintaining our stance and insisting to have positive and constructive relations with other GCC countries.. We believe in the Gulf Cooperation Council and its unity, but under one condition, which is respect for the sovereignty of all states, for international law, and for the principle of equality between states."
In response to a question about the solution to the Gulf crisis, he said "Qatar is open to discussion and we want to make sure that any future agreements between Qatar and other countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council will ensure progress forward to protect us in the event of any future conflict and that our children and children in the future will not suffer from any conflict between us and other countries ... This is not only in our interest, but also in the interest of the entire region. We believe that there must be an agreement that clearly states the responsibilities of each country towards the other country."
Answering a question about Libya, His Excellency said the situation in Libya is deteriorating, pointing to many interventions in the Libyan affairs by several European and Arab countries, to support a military man who wants to rule the country by force . HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani ruled out the possibility of a solution there unless the international community recognized that it cannot deal with these conditions in light of the existence of two criteria. His Excellency criticized the international contradiction in dealing with the Libyan crisis, and clarified that, after a long silence on foreign interference in Libya, international reactions emerged only against Turkey's intervention there.
His Excellency renewed the State of Qatar's support to the legitimate government in Libya, and the outputs of the Skheirat Agreement, stressing that this agreement is the only way to achieve a smooth transfer of power in the country.
On Yemen, His Excellency said that the result of the war that has been going on there for five years is the destruction of infrastructure in the country.. He further expressed regret that the situation in Yemen deviated from the main issue that the war started for, adding that the only way for Yemenis to move forward is to stop the war in the first place, and stop interference from all countries without exception, and that the Yemenis then determine the path they take to achieve peace.
Regarding the assistance provided to Palestine, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said, "We are helping Gaza through a clear international mechanism according to the United Nations and its agencies working there and all the aid passes through them ... The United States is aware of this aid .. The people of Gaza are suffering from the siege, and therefore we are helping them from a humanitarian standpoint, and we expect the international community to consider the suffering of the people of Gaza."
"Hamas movement is an integral part of the Palestinian people, and Qatar supports the Palestinian people regardless of its political components... The state has distinct links with the Palestinian Authority as it supports its efforts .. We in the State of Qatar care to support the Palestinian people, whether in the West Bank or Gaza," he said pointing to Qatar's support for both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to a question about Qatar hosting the World Cup, His Excellency said that politics has divided everyone in the region, and he expressed hope that football will restore unity among the countries of the region, adding that Qatar's hosting of major events such as the Doha Forum is part of the State of Qatar's strategy, through which ties can be created with the countries of the world.
In conclusion, HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, underlined the importance of creating a new regional security structure that is concerned with laws, rights, and responsibilities, adding that the region is currently going through a situation similar to the Cold War, and that the situation will become more difficult if there is no cooperation between the countries of the region
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