HE Minister of Foreign Affairs: I would like to welcome, my friend, Minister Angelino Alfano, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the friendly Republic of Italy. There were, of course, a series of meetings between the Minister and a number of officials in the State of Qatar. He, also, met with His Highness, the Emir, and the Prime Minister. Thereafter, we had bilateral talks between the two countries. In these discussions, we discussed the most important bilateral relations between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Italy. We have friendly relations and very strong economic relations with Italy, and important cooperation in fields such as defence and security, and continued political consultation between the two countries. I am pleased to announce the finalization of a deal between the Qatari Emiri Navy and Italy to purchase seven naval vessels from Italy, as part of a joint military cooperation program between the two countries. The contract is valued at 5 billion euros. In addition, we signed a memorandum of understanding between the Italian Strategic Investment Fund and the Qatar Investment Authority, to consider joint projects and exchange opportunities between the two funds.
In addition, we discussed the latest developments in the Gulf crisis, particularly, the Manama meeting that resulted in a joint statement by the four blockading countries. We agree that international law should be respected, no matter how severe the differences are, that the parties engage in a constructive dialogue and that the security of the region is not subject to such actions in the future. We also explained to His Excellency the developments as well as the negative repercussions of this blockade on the State of Qatar, both economically and humanitarianly, and the violations committed against the State of Qatar, which are clear violations of international law. We also explained to him the legal measures taken by the State of Qatar to resolve these matters and to dismantle the unjust and illegal measures taken by the countries of the blockade. In addition, we assured him that this issue was built on the fabrication of crises, which began with the crime of electronic piracy. It should not be forgotten that these illegal and unjust actions were built on the basis of a crime and no political basis, as justified by the countries of the blockade. The entire issue and crisis lacks goodwill. This reflected in the behavior of these states. Finally, the outcome of the Manama meeting, was their statement that touched on several contradictions and resorted back to their 13 demands after deliberating in a series of different meetings. These demands are now invalid. He also reviewed the outcomes of our visit to the United States and our continued communications with all friendly countries.
Once again, I would like to welcome Your Excellency and thank you for this visit during this important time for the State of Qatar. This visit is an expression of common friendship between the two countries and our common interests. We hope that these agreements and memorandums will result in mutual understanding in the future, and there will be growth in trade exchange and economic cooperation between our two countries. Thank you.
HE the Italian Minster of Foreign Affairs: I would like to thank Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, for receiving me and accompanying us all on this visit. When I saw Sheikh Mohammed in Rome I told him immediately that I was to have a mission in Qatar and would like to reciprocate his visit. Our bilateral relationship with Qatar is excellent, and we are happy about that. Our goal is to always support Qatar's international plans. There are many Italian companies here in Qatar and they contribute to many projects. Most notably the Doha Metro, and establishing the World Cup stadiums. There are also several architects working on the Msheireb development project. In addition to many strategic matters we are working on at the Hamad Port. We want to support the State of Qatar's military independence, and Italian companies are prepared to support the country's economic achievements. We are interested in defensive matters between ourselves and Qatar. Today, we have begun signing the contract for the supply of seven vessels to the Qatari Navy.
Matters are not only about commercial economic matters, they also include other economic matters that will be in the near future between us and the State of Qatar. Today, we discussed Qatari investment in Italy, which is growing significantly. This was discussed with the Executive Chairman of Qatar Investment Authority. I would like to thank the Executive Chairman of Qatar Investment Authority for his cooperation with us. There are many Qatari investments in the Italy. From a cultural perspective, I can say and affirm our relations are excellent. Today, I met with the Chairman of the Qatar Islamic Museum and Ms. Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani. I took this opportunity to visit the Qatar Islamic Museum, in order to familiarize myself with the cultural matters of the State of Qatar. We very much care about cultural matters, and we support them in order to defend the Qatari heritage.
In Italy, part of our foreign policy is cultural diplomacy. We are working with the State of Qatar to develop the museum sector with Italian participation in the development of digital technology for Qatar museums, and these are all very positive things. We are also working on organizing meetings that support the cultural heritage between Italy and Islamic heritage. We also talked about the Gulf crisis, which we continue to monitor closely. I spoke about the issue and the decisions taken at the Cairo meeting. We have seen escalation but we do not want the escalation, rather we want to take diplomatic steps to resolve this crisis. We also expressed our concern about the humanitarian influences and implications that these things could cause among countries of the region. We want to support confidence and want to face our common enemy, and the common enemy is terrorism at the international and regional levels. We also support understanding and dialogue between the State of Qatar and the United States. We also assess and support the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the State of Qatar and the United States on combating terrorism. I would like to share the opinion of His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on this matter and to confirm it. I would like to summarize the situation in two words mediation and wisdom. We want to be moderate in facing this crisis, but even today we must see good intentions in order to face this crisis especially between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Thank you, Mr. Mohammed. You are a dear friend. Thank you for this important day that we spent together. I have great confidence that this shared day will represent a busy day in the future of our cooperation.
Question: Hello. Saeed Al-Kuwari of Qatar News Agency. My first question is to the Italian Foreign Minister. Today is the first official visit by an Italian official since the Gulf crisis to strengthen bilateral relations. This indicates that the Qatari economy is not affected by the crisis. In your opinion, how does Italy see the future of economic relations between the two countries?
HE the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs: Our intention is to strengthen the political dialogue between our country and the State of Qatar and take it to a high level. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, sent me here with a message. This was discussed two months ago with Mr. Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. This is testimony to all these good things, and the agreements we made today attest to our good and deep relations. In addition, over the past few weeks and days we have achieved great things between us and Qatar. This has been a common and large job, and at the center of strong relations that could be invested in a future between the two countries under the international umbrella and under mutual and reciprocated cooperation, and all these things support the economic relations between us and the State of Qatar.
Question: The question is addressed to His Excellency the Qatar Foreign Minister. Yesterday we saw the Saudi Minister shake hands with the Iranian Minster. As you mentioned, in their demands at the Manama meeting, they renewed their 13 demands, including the reduction of Iranian representation in Qatar. What do you make of this contradiction?
HE the Foreign Minister: As for the demands made at the Manama meetings, which was held the day before yesterday, and the renewal of the 13 demands. Even after revoking part of the demands and that these demands are considered null after ten days. It is evidence of behavior that does not harbor good intentions towards resolving the crisis. As for the shaking of hands between the Saudi Minister and the Iranian Minister, this is considered their own matter. The State of Qatar is not in a position to judge bilateral relations between any country, even if they are from the blockading countries. As the State of Qatar calls on all countries not to interfere with its bilateral relations with other countries. As for the issue of contradictions, they are many during this crisis and manifested to us in many forms that are not limited to the shaking of hands.
Question: A question for the Italian Minister, as you mentioned there are many agreements signed with Qatar, including six navy vessels. Is it to be understood there supportive position towards the State of Qatar regarding the blockade? Thank you.
HE the Italian Minister: I have just expressed my position and our country's position when I talked about what happened at the Cairo conference or the Manama conference. For us, the most important thing is respect for international laws, because this will help us avoid escalation and express ourselves in diplomatic ways. I also said very clearly that we saw good intentions from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Question: Qatari Foreign Minister, what do you think are the next steps after the Manama meeting and to highlight the contradictions of the blockading countries? Is there trust between the parties to start a dialogue? My second question, the United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, announced his intention to send two delegates to the region. Can we say that the Gulf crisis has entered a new phase from this statement?
HE the Foreign Minister: With regards to the steps taken after the Manama meeting, the State of Qatar, from the beginning of the crisis, has called for dialogue and that the solution to this crisis is through diplomatic means, and the mediation led by His Highness The Emir of the State of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah. Qatar has not set any conditions for engaging in dialogue, other than the logistical conditions that must be available for any dialogue, and that logical and legal contexts are present.
The State of Qatar did not make any demands to engage in any dialogue. On several occasions we have mentioned that the basis for engaging in dialogue is to withdraw from the illegal actions taken against the State of Qatar, which is the issue of the blockade. These basis are limited to illegal actions, as for any action concerning the sovereignty of these countries, it is their own matte, and there will not come a day where there will be conditions to engage in dialogue.
The logical context of the dialogue is that it is based on the non-violation of the sovereignty of any state of international law and that it is based on the respect of these two factors. Also, that the results are not in the form of dictations towards a state from another state, but rather reciprocal and collective obligations. This is the Qatari proposal, which is in accordance with the vision and leadership of the Kuwaiti mediation.
For Qatar, the driving factor in the upcoming steps is the Kuwaiti mediation. We have no drivers from the blockading countries and or any of their developments, because we will not be following resolutions that come up every day and contract one another. That State of Qatar will not exhaust itself in pursing what they see as a resolution to this crisis.
As for the United States Envoy, as we have previously stated all international efforts are in support of the Kuwaiti mediation and the main mediator is His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed, as he is the one to determine the course of action and not the level of representation of any state. Of course, the American role plays a very important part in resolving this crisis. Trump commissioned Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to lead the American efforts in this work, but there are steps that must be pursued by senior US officials. Mr. Tillerson, therefore, mentioned to us that he would send envoys from his side to look into resolving the gridlock that the mediation is facing.
Question: Your Excellency the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Is you plan to visit any of the blockading countries after Qatar? If so, what is the message, and if not, what is your message by not visiting the blockading countries?
HE the Italian Minister: Today we are on a mission only in Doha. I will return to Rome within hours of this fruitful day. As for this day, I have held six meetings, in addition to this press conference. I had the opportunity to talk to some colleagues through phone calls, and sent a clear message that we must use international cooperation among the GCC countries. I also mentioned that we support the Kuwaiti mediation in order to try deescalate the situation. In addition, this is what is logical for things to return to normal and that is what I did.