HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani has underlined that the State of Qatar is building its diplomacy on the basis of its principles, and believes that the region needs a coherent security strategy that enables people to coexist and live in peace.
In a speech at a meeting on "Qatar's perspective on regional issues" organised by the International Diplomatic Academy in Paris, HE Sheikh Mohamed said that what happened in the Gulf crisis was an attack and an aggression and an attempt to change the rule in Qatar. He noted that "This is not new. The same attempt occurred in 2014, and in 1996, this aggression started against Qatar, when it started to adapt to change, implementing a different strategy and a different vision.
"These countries do not accept differences of opinion, and do not accept a country that has a different approach," Sheikh Mohamed said, stressing: "We refuse to give up our sovereignty".
He also pointed out that "no concerns had been mentioned before the siege imposed on Qatar" and that the countries of the blockade have created the crisis at a time when the region faces many challenges.
"We are building our diplomacy on the basis of our principles, and we believe that our region needs a coherent security strategy that enables people to coexist and live in peace," he said.
"The basic pillar of our principle is that people are not subject to any political deal. "When the issue is between the government and the people, we stand with the people", Sheikh Mohamed added.
Freedom of expression
He said that when we started this policy we focused on different dimensions, "the first step was to liberalise our media. We were the first country in the region to close the Ministry of Communication and Information. We started legislating free media, guaranteeing freedom of expression under the law, focusing on human capital and means of developing it," he said.
"We have invited different universities in different countries, including France, the United States and the United Kingdom, and we have given them freedom of expression. Investing in the human element has been one of our main priorities," the foreign minister said.
He noted that Qatar produced 650,000 barrels of oil in 1995 and that "oil prices put the State of Qatar in a difficult financial situation, but His Highness the Emir decided to invest in gas at a time when no one believed in the power of gas.
He said that Qatar was now one of the largest exporters of natural gas.
"We have developed technology for this industry and that put us together with the world's leading LNG players in terms of production and shipping," said Sheikh Mohamed, adding : "We have worked on diversification as part of our economic vision, where the surplus of our budget and revenues were invested in different sectors and in different countries, and then the Qatar sovereign fund was established. "
"We believe in international cooperation and the development plan is an essential part of our policy. We believe in the need to focus on human capital, and that is why we have allocated 50% of our external development assistance to education," the minister said.
"We set a vision a few years ago to educate 10 million children in vulnerable countries and so far more than 7 million children are being educated through Qatari programmes," he added.
Sheikh Mohamed said that Qatar has a partnership with France and other countries, pointing out that the Qatari programmes in Africa are working with the help of a French development company.
"We believe in the empowerment of young people as part of our national agenda, where we have made initiatives to create jobs," he said, adding that we have the Silatech Foundation, which was established to create jobs for Arab youth in Yemen, Morocco and other countries in the region, referring to the provision of more than 300,000 jobs so far as well as the provision of 50,000 jobs for young people through the Qatar Friendship Fund (QFF) in Tunisia.
"Our foreign policy is based on these basic principles and we are using this as a key tool to achieve this vision," he said.
Sheikh Mohamed said the region has a lot of resources and high potential. "We have many young people and we consider them fuel for prosperity, but we need to give them the right means to achieve this vision", describing Qatar's relations with France as "historic and with its characteristics," pointing out that France stood with Qatar in the early days of the Gulf crisis.