Belgium ‘hopeful’ on GCC role in resolving crisis
June 04 2019 11:15 PM
Belgian envoy Bart De Groof
Belgian envoy Bart De Groof

Belgium “remains hopeful” that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the GCC summit held in Makkah would help open avenues to ease regional tensions and to resolve the blockade imposed on Qatar in 2017, the European country’s top diplomat has said.

“We remain hopeful that the GCC will be able to play a role in the resolution of this crisis, and that the summit called for will contribute to the reduction of tensions in the region,” Belgian ambassador Bart De Groof stressed.

De Groof also lauded Qatar’s diplomatic relations, saying the country has “proactively stepped up” its outreach to different parts of the world, “calmly building new relations and intensifying the existing ones” through state visits over the past two years by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

“Over the last two years, it is noteworthy that Qatar has consistently been looking at the various multilateral legal fora to expose its position, emphasising the importance of the rule of law in international relations and the need for an impartial conflict resolution mechanism.

“We support the mediation of the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, to bring the regional rift to an end, which will serve regional stability and peace,” the ambassador pointed out.

Since the imposition of the economic blockade against Qatar in 2017, De Groof said the country has “successfully tackled the potential negative effects of the blockade” by making a major effort to increase its food and medicine autonomy by accelerating the drive towards local production.

“In addition, Qatar has successfully diversified its supply lines, also looking to countries such as Belgium for the import of frozen fruit and vegetables. The Vision 2030 document is fundamental in this respect as it outlines the path for economic growth and development, emphasising the diversification of the economy,” the ambassador emphasised.

“Of course, Qatar above all remains the largest LNG exporter in the world and it has been rightfully stressed that Qatar has always honoured its commitments, not missing a single supply contract.

“Given the energy transformation in many parts of the world, including Belgium, towards more sustainable ways of energy production, it is to be expected that LNG will continue to play an important role in power generation,” he continued.

Citing the successes of Qatar Airways, De Groof also noted that Qatar is further consolidating its position as a major transport hub, but also as a major healthcare, educational and cultural destination.

“The newly-opened National Library and the National Museum are a case in point,” he said.

“As far as infrastructure works are concerned, it was impressive to see the opening ceremony of the newly-delivered state of the art Al Janoub Stadium, three years ahead of the FIFA World Cup. Other major infrastructure works such as the remaining stadiums, the roads and metro are well underway and there is a clear vision and commitment to be ready to receive the world in 2022.

“In this respect, it is noteworthy to mention that Belgian companies are majorly involved in these infrastructure works, for instance by preparing the Doha Port for the cruise ships that will dock there and serve as floating accommodation in 2022,” he said.

“Maritime construction and dredging are areas where Belgium has a unique expertise and we are very proud to be participating in the preparations for the World Cup. Belgian companies belonging to the sports and technology federation are in constant contact with various Qatari stakeholders to further deepen this collaboration.”

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