Any initiative to resolve the Gulf crisis must take into account that Qatar cannot accept undermining its sovereignty nor any guardianship or dictations, the ambassador of Qatar to Turkey Salem bin Mubarak al-Shafi stressed yesterday.
The ambassador said in a statement to Anadolu Agency (AA) that Qatar is always open to any real gesture of peace that will lift the blockade, respect its sovereignty, refrain from interfering in its internal affairs, and respect international law and the principle of equality between states, adding that Qatar has always emphasised on all occasions, that the unity of the Gulf states is pivotal in facing the challenges that beset the region.
The ambassador further added that Qatar is always present in all regional and international conferences and forums, stressing the importance of the diplomatic role and dialogue in limiting conflicts and bringing views closer.
Al-Shafi said that the region now needs cohesion and co-operation more than ever, and the unjust blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on June 5, 2017 directly affected the lives of citizens and tore social ties of many families, and prevented them from practising religious rights, noting that Qatar faced a systematic campaign that marginalised and stigmatised it by connecting it to terrorism, but the firm and confident Qatari diplomacy overcame these shameful acts.
The ambassador explained that there is no doubt that the imposition of the siege in the month of Ramadan had a surprising impact, especially as it came from those who were considered neighbours, but that this was the result of other attempts that preceded it, and those attempts were indications of what will happen next. Furthermore, he pointed out that what happened was preceded by an attempt to invade Qatar in 1996, then a crisis in 2014 when the same countries withdrew their ambassadors from Doha.
The ambassador said that these were indications that prompted Qatar to prepare and work to diversify its economy and investments in order to face any unfavourable future events.
Al-Shafi emphasised that the voice of truth and the blurring of facts cannot be silenced, noting that the entire world knows today which are the countries that finance and support terrorism, and invest in it, whether in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, or elsewhere, not to mention those same countries’ attempts at piracy.
The ambassador added that Qatari principles overcame the diplomacy of sedition, terrorism and that Qatar continued to practise what it believes in and continued to align with the people and not conspire against them, and invest in development, renaissance and peace.
The ambassador cited the selection of Qatar by the United Nations to establish an office on its soil to combat terrorism, which confirms the anti-terror position of Doha, and denied what the blockade states claim. He also cited also the historic peace agreement signed in Doha between Taliban and the United States of America, last February, after unremitting efforts from Qatar to end this decades-old conflict that tore Afghanistan and prevented any real development, despite the desperate attempts of some blockading countries to thwart and hinder this agreement.
Al-Shafi stressed that even during the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) crisis, with blockaded still in force, Qatar has proven its presence at the forefront of humanitarian and voluntary efforts.
The ambassador pointed out that Doha has sent medical and humanitarian shipments to more than 20 countries, and its national carrier has transported 1.8mn passengers to their home countries at a time when most airlines in the world stopped working.
Al-Shafi said that the unjust blockade failed to achieve its desired results, but had greatly undermined the credibility of the Gulf Co-operation Council, adding that, Qatar is still committed to the GCC, even though it must be reactivated in order to bridge the rift between the Gulf states.
He added that Qatar needs guarantees that all rules and controls are binding on all parties in the council without being selective. He expressed his hope that the council would regain its true role and be a nucleus of co-operation and integration that meets the aspirations of all member states.
On the other hand, the ambassador made it clear that the bilateral relations between Qatar and Turkey have always been good and many incidents have paved the way to this distinguished level.
The ambassador referred to those situations, saying that they started in 2014 when the Supreme Strategic Committee of the two countries was established at the level of leaders, then the failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016, and the support and the position of Qatar, and the unjust blockade of Qatar in 2017.
The ambassador considered that the Turkish position on June 5, 2017 was a result of this deep-rooted relations and it a brave choice that is in line with its policies.
Ambassador al-Shafi expressed Qatar’s appreciation for this position.
He added that Turkey has not changes its position to stand with Qatar against the unjust blockade after three years, and despite the great pressure it was subjected to in order to change its position.
And Qatar, for its part, did not hesitate to support Turkey during all the crises it went through, whether during the failed coup attempt or through economic support during the Turkish lira crisis in 2018, or by raising the ceiling of the currency exchange agreement.
He said Turkey is one of the most preferred tourist destinations for Qatari citizens.
Al-Shafi stressed that the preparations of Qatar to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup are under way, and have come a long way already, and work is currently ongoing in the final stages of the remaining stadiums according to the standards set by the International Federation.
He expressed his confidence that Qatar will succeed in organising the best FIFA World Cup tournament. He there is no doubt that the importance of this sport event has increased now as it will be the first recreational event in which football fans will gather from all over the world after the outbreak of the coronavirus and the fear and isolation that followed this pandemic.
Ambassador of Qatar to Turkey Salem bin Mubarak al-Shafi.