His Excellency the Foreign Minister: There was a very fruitful meeting between myself and His Excellency, and there had also been a meeting between him and His Highness the Emir, which stressed the importance of Qatari-Russian relations, and his appreciation for the Russian position, and for the Russian ambitions to deepen relations between the two friendly countries. His Highness the Emir also talked about the Russian position that called for ending the Gulf crisis as soon as possible and to ensuring the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and for supporting the efforts of the Emir of Kuwait, which is a welcome position in the eyes of the State of Qatar. The State of Qatar thanks the position of the President of Russia, and the friendly Russian nation. During our meeting today, we also talked about ways of deepening bilateral nations between the two nations, especially in the fields of energy, increasing trade exchange, economic cooperation, and promoting shared investments. There is also something else in common, and a common factor between the State of Qatar and Russia, and that is the World Cup. Russia will host the World Cup in 2018, and the State of Qatar will host it in 2022. There is a lot of cooperation and continued communication between the concerned sides in organizing this tournament. We are confident that it will be a successful tournament in 2018, and also in 2022, especially through our cooperation in this field.
We also discussed the Qatari-Russian cultural year which will be held in 2018, and we look forward to hosting many Russian events in the State of Qatar, and also Qatari events in Russia. There were also talks following up the visit of the Minister of Defense’s visit to Russia lately, and it was agreed upon to deepen cooperation in the field of exchanging experience in the field of defense. Of course, a significant amount of our talks is the continuation of political consultations between our countries, especially those that concern regional matters like Palestine, the peace process, the Palestinian reconciliation, the appreciated Russian efforts in helping and supporting the process of Palestinian reconciliation and the complete unity of the political Palestinian forces. Furthermore, we discussed the Middle East peace process, and we stressed the importance of the two-state solution, and the State of Qatar's position is very clear on this matter. It supports the Arab Initiative as the basis for a roadmap for peace between Palestine and Israel. We also had an opportunity to discuss the situation in Libya and the latest developments there. We also stressed the support of the State of Qatar for the Libyan political agreement, the Skhirat agreement, and the State of Qatar's support for the government of National Reconciliation in Libya. Russia also has talks and engaged in dialogue with all parties in Libya, and we hope this will contribute to restoring stability in Libya as soon as possible. We also discussed Iraq and the developments of the battles, both after the end of the fighting in Mosul and Tal Afar, and ending the battles against the Daesh organization in Iraq, and we stressed our support for the efforts of the Iraqi government in the reconstruction of war-ravaged areas, and to allow the people to return there.
There were also long talks about the Syrian crisis, and also about the tragedy and suffering that the Syrian people have been going through during the war over the past six years. There are also Russian efforts and a support for international efforts so that there can be an operation in Astana to ceasefire, and an operation to organize safe areas in Syria, and we support any effort related to restoring stability in the areas, and reducing tensions. Furthermore, we discussed the options for the political process in Syria through dialogue and the mission led by UN envoy de Mistura, and the efforts to unite the opposition so that there can be a beginning for dialogue between the Syrian opposition and the Syrian regime. Of course, we reaffirm the position of the State of Qatar that there be a political transition, and we support the safekeeping of Syrian territory in accordance with the Geneva 1 statement and the independence of the Syrian state, and we also support a solution for implementing justice for the Syrian people. As for the Gulf crisis, it was also a part of our talks, and I pointed out the latest developments that concern this crisis to my colleague His Excellency Mr. Sergei, this crisis which has lasted approximately 90 days, and we are still in the same situation with no movements whatsoever. His Excellency the Minister was given a briefing during his visit to the brotherly State of Kuwait, which is leading the mediation efforts, and which the friends in Russia are supporting. We briefed His Excellency specifically on the picture related to the Kuwaiti initiative, and the messages that His Highness Sheikh Sabah, the Emir of the State of Kuwait, sent to all the parties of the GCC states, and which calls for direct dialogue without any conditions. The only state that replied to this message is the State of Qatar, and it sent its reply after a few days. However, none of the blockading states replied to this message. It appears to us that this is a continued pattern of not replying and ignoring any mediation efforts, whether it be from Kuwait or from any other friendly countries, and especially after the visit of the US envoy, who offered some advice, which also did not get any replies. However, this continued approach from the blockading states only shows their desire to continue this crisis, continue the blockade, and only attempting to invoke Kuwaiti mediation when any of the friendly countries encourage them to engage in dialogue, and putting forward a solution for this crisis.
They accuse anyone who comes forward and encourages them to engage in dialogue of interfering in the crisis, but the State of Qatar supports all efforts from allied countries which support the Kuwaiti mediation, and supports any effort that makes way for a clear path and a clear solution to this crisis, and in a way that doesn’t allow conditions. The blockading states that release statements with conditions to start the dialogue process only shows that dialogue is the goal or sitting down on the table is the goal for the State of Qatar. But in their absence, the goal is not sitting down at the table, but the goal is to lift this unjust and illegal blockade from the State of Qatar, and finding a solution to this crisis that ensures the safety and security of the State of Qatar, and all of the states of the GCC.
The State of Qatar supports any efforts that aid this process, and which support the mediation of the Emir of Kuwait, and it also welcomes the Russian efforts and the Russian position in this matter. The State of Qatar is still steadfast in its position that there is no way out of this crisis except by way of constructive dialogue which can be reached through a collective commitment from all the states, and not by way of dictating and submitting lists with demands that breach the sovereignty of the State of Qatar, or a breach of international law which the blockading countries claim to respect. Unfortunately, we have only seen the opposite , it is very clear that these states have failed until by now to provide a reason for this crisis, which began with a piracy attack that included some of the countries participating in this blockade.
Thank you Your Excellency for being here with us, and I welcome your presence with us here in the State of Qatar.
Russian Foreign Minister: In the context of the understandings made during the visit and summit of His Highness the Emir during this year, and also during telephone calls between the Russia President and the Qatari Emir, we also have a keenness to activate economic and trade relations, and the volume of trade exchange until now doesn't suit the full potential found in both countries. In this regard, we attach great importance to activating the work of the Russian-Qatari Joint National Committee for Trade, Economic, and Technical Cooperation, which had its last meeting here in Doha last April. On the sidelines of this meeting, the forum was attended by Russian and Qatari businessmen. In addition, the staff of the Russian-Qatari Business Council was recently renewed, which will help promote trade and economic relations.
We stressed our shared interest in continuing to coordinate in the field of energy, oil, and within the framework of the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries. We also note the increasing interest in cooperating in the field of investment, especially between the Russian Fund for Direct Investment, and Qatar Investment Authority. In addition, we agreed to continue exchange in culture and education and among that the preparations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. As my counterpart noted, the Qatari Minister of Defense recently visited Russia to participate in the 2017 International Army Forum, and he held talks with his counterpart, the Russian Minister of Defense, which reaffirmed the presence of a shared interest to develop communication in this field.
Furthermore, we discussed regional matters, and among them the crises in Syria, Libya, and Iraq. We have a shared position that all these crises must be resolved only on the basis of dialogue, and on the basis of involving all national and sectarian forces away from outside influence. In this regard, we are grateful to our Qatari friends for their commendation for the Russian role concerning the promoting of the idea of areas reducing escalation, which would create favorable conditions to develop political dialogue. We have a shared concern regarding the impasse in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and we are of the opinion that there must be solutions reached through direct dialogue and on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative. We have supported this more than once, and also with the Framework of the International Quartet of Mediators, and they are Russia, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations. We in Russia and Qatar pay particular attention for the reconstruction of Palestinian unity.
What is currently happening between Ramallah and Gaza is not natural, and we are of the position that the Palestinians must go back to the agreements, which were concluded in the past for Palestinian unity on the basis of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Arab Peace Initiative. As my counterpart noted, we discussed the unity in the Gulf, in the context of the escalation of relations between Qatar and various Arab countries, and we are convinced that solutions must be found on the basis of the search for consensus and attitudes acceptable to all, and the exclusion of offensive rhetoric which is not helpful, and by finding consensus and meditative solutions.
We reaffirmed our support for mediation to His Highness the Emir of Kuwait, and we will be ready if there is any need for us from both sides, and I will repeat what I discussed during my visit to Kuwait. We are concerned and interested that the GCC remains united and strong, and capable of finding solutions for the region's troubles, and it is worsening, and there is no need to create new problems. We are grateful to the Qataris for their hospitality and good reception, and I invite my counterpart to visit Russia at a time that is appropriate for him.
Now, we will begin with questions, and we will give the opportunity to Haitham Abu-Saleh from Al-Jazeera Network:
Your Excellency, the Qatari Foreign Minister. We understand from your words that the crisis has stalled, but the UAE ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, said in an interview with a newspaper that the blockading states informed the US envoy that they are ready for dialogue with Qatar without any past conditions. Do you see a rollback of escalation in these remarks? And why has this crisis stalled despite the mediation in the region? Your Excellency, the Russian Foreign Minister. What makes the Russian role different from the roles of past mediators to resolve the Gulf crisis? And there was also talk of ideas you expressed to Gulf leaders and the parties of this crisis. What are these ideas if you don’t mind me asking, and what are the reactions from Kuwait, the UAE, and Qatar? For my last question, why didn't you visit Saudi Arabia during this tour?
His Excellency the Foreign Minister: With regards to the subject of the UAE ambassador in Washington saying that the UAE or the other countries have no objections to sitting down for dialogue, and that the dialogue won’t have any conditions. Then why was there no call for dialogue despite the fact that we don't take the statements of the blockading countries seriously because we saw a lot of contradictions, and there were many attempts from the side of mediation, and most recently the Emir of Kuwait, that there be an invite to dialogue with no conditions, they why have they not replied to the Emir of Kuwait? The questions are posed to them so that they can reply, and why are they required, when meeting mediators, to issue statements to enter dialogue? This is despite the fact the State of Qatar expressed more than twelve times of its desire that this crisis be resolved through dialogue, and that there should be a settlement with respecting the sovereignty of states, respecting international law, and that there should be a settlement consisting of shared obligations and collective obligations on all countries. We don't see clear and solid foundations for such statements until we see something on the ground. The first proof for being on the ground is respecting mediators, respecting the Kuwaiti mediator, and to at least respond to him. Or to respond to the American Secretary of State, who visited the region and spent some time with the State of Qatar and the State of Kuwait, and the blockading nations.
But, as I mentioned in the introduction, these countries followed an approach of not responding, therefore their statements don't mean anything until there is a response and respect to the mediation.
Russian Foreign Minister: With regards to Russia's role, as I mentioned, we don't mediate, and there is Kuwaiti mediation, and we are convinced that is the right thing, that this crisis is resolved within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and we know that the American efforts and the advice of the American Secretary of State, and we will see if his efforts are successful, and we ourselves don't suggest ideas that differ from the Kuwaiti and American ideas, and we don't see it as a worthy matter. There are various suggestions that on their basis could launch dialogue, and we are in contact with all countries in the region in the framework of coordinating visits, and in early September, I will visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Question from Interfax: My question is for the Russian Foreign Minister. A few days ago, the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, said that Iran wants to set up bases in Syria and Lebanon to build high-range rockets to use against Israel. Are you aware of these Iranian plans? And were these issues discussed during Netanyahu's visit to Sochi?
Russian Foreign Minister: With regards to Netanyahu's trip to Sochi to see the Russian President, Netanyahu himself spoke to the press at the conclusion of the visit, and regarding this question in the field of cooperation between Iran and Syria, then if there is any cooperation between them within the framework of international law and occurs without violating international law, then this should not be in question. And if there is a party among the parties in the Middle East or in someplace else planning to violate international law by way of undermining sovereignty and dividing states, be it any nation from countries around the world, whether it be all countries in North Africa or the Middle East, then this is a subject of our condemnation. But as for plans to attack Israel, we don't have any information about this matter.
Question: Mohammed Al-Hadi, from Qatar News Agency: As you mentioned, the crisis has been going on for nearly three months now, there is no progress, and the State of Qatar has been calling for dialogue from the beginning. Is there a political will from the blockading states to continue this crisis? In your opinion, how long will this crisis last, and will there be Qatari movements in the future towards international organizations in order to end this blockade, as it seems like the blockading nations wants to continue with the imposition and continuation of the blockade?
His Excellency the Foreign Minister: Regarding the subject that the crisis has been stalled for almost three months, and the State of Qatar’s call for dialogue, and the responses we are hearing from the blockading nations, and whether they have a desire or not. First of all, we need to be clear about the goal of dialogue. Is the goal of dialogue making us sit on a table, and is this the peak of aspirations for the State of Qatar and the blockading countries, or is the goal lifting the siege off the people of Qatar? Today, three months after the crisis, the problem of the blockading countries is now with the people of Qatar, and not just the government of the State of Qatar. When you impose these unjust measures during the month of Ramadan without justification, and you have failed to justify it, and you are unable to rely on anything in this crisis, then this points to there being steps, and then there is a problem and a bigger crisis which must be resolved through searching for reasons for this crisis, and to discuss the effects of the crisis on our people.
The subject of the goal of dialogue for the State of Qatar is lifting the blockade off the State of Qatar, and finding a settlement for this crisis, and our goal is to not sit at the table just to sit at the table. As for the State of Qatar’s movements to international organizations, the State of Qatar did not lessen any efforts from the first day of this crisis. It has moved through all international organizations to push and force the blockading countries to retreat from their illegal measures against the State of Qatar. As for what concerns their sovereignty as they say, this concerns them. As for breaching the sovereignty of the State of Qatar and violating international law against the State of Qatar, then this is an unacceptable matter, and international organizations are carrying out their work. Actions have already yielded results whether it be from the field of the sea, or the International Aviation Organization, from the side of humanitarian matters, and other forms of illegal measures. We are confident that through the State of Qatar taking this path, the path of achieving justice through official and transparent channels, will produce results. However, the results will be at the expense of widening the gap between the Qatari people and the governments of these blockading states.
Question: El Gabe Protoyko, RT International. My question is for His Excellency, the Qatari Foreign Minister. I have a question about the very real effects of the economic sanctions. Despite the difficulties, you are developing new trends of diplomatic relations and successfully pursuing gas trade. I read that the assessment that the sanctions in this case stimulated the development of some branches of the Qatari economy. What is the extent of the objectivity of the advantages of this blockade, and can you now, based on this model, support the idea of the global trend regarding the failure of unilateral sanctions for economic impact.
His Excellency the Foreign Minister: Regarding the real effects on the State of Qatar because of the blockade, or as you said, the economic sanctions of this blockade. The real impact on the State of Qatar because of this blockade is the humanitarian impact, from tearing families apart, calling students back from their universities and schools, and taking businessmen away from their investments in those countries. But economically, the direct impact on the State of Qatar; at the beginning of the crisis there was only some additional cost incurred by the State of Qatar so that there would be stability in the provision of necessary goods, so that the population in Qatar wouldn’t be affected, whether they are Qatari citizens or residents, so that there wouldn’t a shortage of their goods. This is certain, there was a financial cost which the State of Qatar incurred during that period, and it was also a catalyst for all businessmen and traders to search for alternatives so that there would be wider choices available for the people in the State of Qatar.
These alternatives today came with very good positive results, so that there would be a variety in the Qatari market. In addition, the State of Qatar would be less dependent on the ocean, which faced an illegal blockade more open to international markets. The State of Qatar is always trying to exploit as much as possible any challenge it faces by creating new opportunities in order to be a positive contributor to the development process in the State of Qatar. This, if counted, does not take into account the advantages of the blockade, but the advantages of the blockade shows us the reality that the State of Qatar must rely on itself in the matters of food security. As for matters concerning its economy, the State of Qatar has always been an important platform for a free economy and an open economy. It proved this through this crisis by respecting its contracts, and by respecting all international conventions, and respecting international law. Gas contracts have not been affected by this crisis, and this is the biggest proof that the State of Qatar is a trusted partner by supplying the world with energy, as the State of Qatar is considered a main source of energy for the entire world, it did not allow this illegal blockade or these measures to be an opportunity for the State of Qatar to use this situation as a tool for political pressure unlike the blockading countries, which say their economies are open and their skies are open, and in the end banned flight, the transport of goods, and contradicted its claims of facilities and an attraction for investors.
Today, we see that the State of Qatar has investors who are more confident in it and its economy, and investors have more confidence in its legal environment which is attractive for investment, and that this opening and these steps that the State of Qatar is carrying out will be a quick catalyst for development, and it was not born of a moment, or from a blockade’s measures, but it is a political will that has been present in the State of Qatar from the beginning.
Question: El Gabe Protoyko, from RT International. For the Russian Foreign Minister: A month before the German elections, the head of intelligence warned of the possibility of Russian interference in the elections. In the case of the US elections, it was interpreted as a failed expression. What is your response to this kind of statement in light that Merkel might be the one to win the elections?
Russian Foreign Minister: Why is German intelligence making statements about Russian interference in the election campaign in Germany? Maybe they want to confirm their effectiveness, but it has not revealed any evidence or any facts. As far as facts are concerned, everyone knows very well that a while ago it became clear that the German Chancellor has been eavesdropped by foreign intelligence, and this is a recorded fact, and I don't remember any statement regarding German intelligence.
Thank you for coming.