German FM hopeful of overcoming Gulf rifts
November 21 2017 11:54 PM
Qatar
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel at the opening of the Qatar-funded Arabic Cultural Centre in Berlin on Tuesday.

Reuters/Berlin

*Qatar-funded Arabic Cultural Centre opened in Berlin
*A full segment of Berlin Wall to be given to Doha museum


German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel offered his Qatari counterpart a small piece of the Berlin Wall on Tuesday, saying Germany's post-war history was proof it was possible to overcome deep divisions such as those now plaguing the Gulf region.
Gabriel said Germany had a keen interest in maintaining good relations with all the Gulf countries and working for peace in the region, even if those countries were sometimes in conflict.
"Especially in politically troubled times in which dialogue has sometimes slipped into the background, it is all the more important to build bridges, to emphasise the things that unite us and to help remove walls," Gabriel said at the opening of a new Qatar-funded Arabic Cultural Centre in Berlin.
Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said he hoped the new centre, erected in a neo-classical villa in the southern part of Berlin, could showcase Arab culture and help battle stereotypes of Arabs in Europe.
Sheikh Mohamed last week blamed what he called "reckless leadership" in the Gulf for a rift with Qatar and the current crisis in Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt this summer cut diplomatic, transport and trade ties with Qatar, accusing it of financing terrorism. Doha denies the charges.
Gabriel did not refer to the Gulf dispute directly, but lauded Germany's World War Two enemies for building bridges and welcoming Germany back into the world community despite the devastation and horrors of the Nazi regime.
"After 70 years, we saw that it's possible, even after a world war, to be partners in a first step and friends in a second," he said. "Tearing down walls is exhausting but worth it."
Gabriel said a full segment of the Wall that once divided East and West Germany would be delivered to a museum in Doha, fulfilling a promise he had made earlier.
"Because as a politician, particularly in these days in Germany, we ought to fulfil our promises," he said. "That is a hot topic in my country at the moment."
Gabriel, a former leader of the Social Democrats (SPD), declined to comment further on Chancellor Angela Merkel's failure to forge a new coalition government with the pro-business Free Democrats and environmental Greens.
Sheikh Mohamed also held a meeting with Gabriel during which they discussed bilateral relations and ways of enhancing them, as well as the latest regional developments.



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