HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani reaffirmed that any dialogue with the siege countries will not be at the expense of Qatar's sovereignty, stressing the need to have basic principles, which are shielded by a clear mechanism, to settle conflicts.
Speaking before the Advisory Council, the minister said the siege countries have violated all articles of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) Charter, reiterating the importance of having a clear and binding mechanism to settle conflicts among member states.
Sheikh Mohamed spoke about the constants of Qatar's foreign policy which, he said, is based on building friendly relations with other countries, protecting the interests of the state, defending Arab and Islamic issues and matters concerning the vulnerable, working to establish international peace and security through adherence to international laws, activating co-operation in multilateral frameworks at the United Nations and specialised bodies, adherence to international conventions , in addition to the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those affected anywhere in the world.
The deputy prime minister and foreign minister described the fabricated crisis as unprecedented in the modern history of Qatar, labelling it as treachery. He said Qatar, under the leadership of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, took a strategic decision to deal with the siege in a civilised and legal way, and to rise above the level of the siege countries in the way they treat the Qatari people.
He also reviewed the stages of the crisis since its beginning and the measures the state took to counter the siege under directives of the Emir, pointing out that there are no actual reasons for the crisis but to place Qatar under the guardianship of these countries, and direct Doha's internal and external policy and exploit its resources to serve the interests of these countries.
The minister hailed the great role of the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah and his good endeavours to resolve the crisis, noting that Qatar has welcomed and supported this role. He also pointed to the role of the different ministries and government entities at the political, economic and legal levels to address the repercussions of the siege.
Asked about Qatar's membership in the GCC, Sheikh Mohamed said Qatar does not intend to leave GCC and will continue to work through it as long as the body remains. "If the siege countries want to go and found another entity, let them do."
He said Qatar is now strengthening its cooperation with Asian countries and is considering cooperation in the framework of multilateral regional organisations to join and benefit from them. "Qatar speaks with the different world countries in the language of interests rather than threats as the siege countries do," the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said, adding Doha has achieved many objectives in this regard as major countries condemned the siege and demanded its lifting.
On the latest developments in the crisis, he warned that the siege countries were keen to normalise the crisis and continue it in an attempt to weaken the Qatari economy in the hope that Doha would make concessions, stressing that Qatar has thwarted all these attempts to harm the economy. "The last of these attempts was pressuring the Qatari currency and bonds."
Sheikh Mohamed said the directives of the Emir are to move forward without closing the door to dialogue, stressing that Qatar will pursue its rights if the siege countries want to normalise the siege.
He stressed that the social and humanitarian element is what drives Qatar to consider solutions to this crisis. "The rest of the situation is stable," he said, warning that the siege countries went far and hoped that Qatar would collapse and have a new political regime, expressing regret for this unjustifiable hostility.
In response to a question on when the crisis would see a breakthrough, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister stressed that Qatar has moved on from the issue of the siege but at the same time the door remains open to dialogue in accordance with clear and transparent principles that respect international law and the sovereignty of the state.
Sheikh Mohamed said Qatar, over eight months, sought dialogue but the siege countries closed the door, noting that there are no endeavors on Qatar's side now in this regard but it welcomes any constructive efforts.
"There are no new efforts now except from the United States, especially those related to the Camp David summit," the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said, noting that no one was invited to the summit yet, and if the invitation was sent, Qatar will attend, adding that the US is in touch with Doha regarding proposals to resolve the crisis.
In a related context, he reiterated that there are no positive indicators from the siege countries, "but rather they move from an escalation to another and prepare new waves of future escalations".
As for participation in the upcoming Arab summit, Sheikh Mohamed said Qatar will attend the summit regardless of its place, and if the host state is one of the siege countries and does not provide the necessary measures, that country will be the violating state and not Qatar.
He said Qatar continues to convey the correct picture regarding the siege crisis and its consequences, adding that thanks to the wise policy of the Emir, Qatar has overcome many of the negative aspects of the crisis and all countries that work with Qatar are convinced that what is happening is a slander against the state and unjust measures.
The minister also touched on the positions of Qatar on regional and international issues, particularly the Palestinian issue, the Syrian crisis, the war in Yemen, the situation in Libya and the relationship with Iran.
He reiterated Qatar's firm position on the Palestinian issue and its support for a just solution according to the Arab Peace Initiative, which guarantees the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, as well as supporting all the segments of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian reconciliation efforts.
With regard to the Syrian crisis, he reiterated the position of Qatar calling for a political solution to the crisis and its stand with the Syrian people. He said in this regard Qatar had no motives to change the Syrian regime and tried and sought to have a solution to the crisis at the beginning, but there was no response.
When the regime started using violence against the people, Qatar stood by the Syrian people, he said, adding that Qatar continues to support the Syrian people by providing humanitarian and political support to reach a political solution in accordance with international decisions and the Geneva 1 resolutions in particular.
On the Yemen crisis, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister expressed his belief that it has begun to take a controversial framework because of the continuation of the war. He added that Qatar's participation in the Coalition to Support Legitimacy was based on the conviction that what happened was a coup against legitimacy and should not be accepted. He stressed that Qatar's participation in the coalition was based on its duty and commitment to the collective security of the GCC countries.
Sheikh Mohamed added that Qatar sent its troops to the Saudi border to protect the kingdom and did not participate in the war in Yemen.
The deputy prime minister and foreign minister pointed out that the war continues until today and the Yemeni people suffer from difficult humanitarian conditions, noting that there are 20mn Yemenis below the poverty threshold as well as the spread of diseases and epidemics that kill thousands, while no political solution is in sight.
For Libya, he said Qatar supported the Skhirat Agreement although there are other countries that support parties outside international legitimacy.
On Qatari-Iranian relations, Sheikh Mohamed said the relationship should be based on clear bases due to geographical proximity and participation in the largest gas field, which requires constant communication between the two sides.
He added in this regard that Qatar and Iran have many points of disagreement on foreign policy, and Qatar still disagrees with Iran on them despite the latter's stand with Doha after the siege.
In response to a question on the US-Qatari Strategic Dialogue, Sheikh Mohamed explained that this dialogue came in accordance with the directives of the Emir to establish a strategic platform to frame the Qatari-American relations according to a clear and coordinated mechanism that brings together all the political, economic, defense and energy sectors. He added that there have been fruitful meetings with US counterparts, which produced positive results.
In response to another question, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister added that the US will abide by the declaration of joint defense between the two countries to provide all kinds of support to Qatar in the event of any external attack and this agreement has been in place for years but was highlighted after the strategic dialogue.
He noted that this is a message from the US to the siege countries that Washington does not stand by their side and that it will seek to resolve the crisis and will not allow the escalation of the dispute out of concern about its interests in the Gulf region.
On the performance of Haj this year, the minister said this matter is in the hands of the Saudi government, noting that the parties concerned in Qatar will communicate with the channels set by the Saudi authorities in this regard but attributed the last say on this issue to the Saudi government.
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