His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: Peace be upon you. In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. First of all, it pleases me to welcome Mr. Moussa Faki, the Chairperson of the African Union, and I am happy about his visit to us here in the State of Qatar, where His Highness met with him yesterday. There was an exploration of relations between the State of Qatar and the African Continent, and there was an exploration of all files that concern the Horn of Africa, whether relating to the State of Qatar's efforts in Darfur or the Qatari mediation in the case of Djibouti and Eritrea, as well as all matters related to the Horn of Africa. We also discussed irregular migration, which today forms an obsession, especially for the entire world, whether it is in the African continent or the European continent, or for us as countries of the region.
Under the framework of cooperation between the State of Qatar and the African Union, His Highness instructed work to be carried out on an initiative for a radical solution to the phenomenon of irregular migration. The work was done by a team from the African Union and the State of Qatar to establish a fund for reintegration of irregular migrants returning to their countries. The past agreement between the African Union and the European Union includes the voluntary return of migrants to their countries. However, we found a gap in the issue of reintegration, and it was agreed to establish a mechanism and to develop a strategy to reintegrate those returning. We look forward to completing the work together with the African Union, just as we look forward for this to be a step to establish a successful model for mobilizing international support for it and for finalizing this initiative. There will, of course, be work carried out through international partners and other international organizations to coordinate between the State of Qatar and the African Union. I thank you, Your Excellency, for visiting the State of Qatar and we look forward to working together, and we also look forward to this initiative being successful in the future.
Chairperson of the African Union: In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Thank you my dear brother, Your Excellency, Your Excellences and distinguished guests, please allow me to start by extending my thanks to His Highness and also to the Qatari people for the reception and generous hospitality. The African initiative regarding African migrants came at the right time and to people in dire need of it. It is no secret to any observer of the situation of African migrants in many parts of the world. The ill-treatment and poor living and health conditions that they suffer from are a source of great concern for us and for all Africans. Officially or publically. In this context, the initiative of His Highness the Emir of the State of Qatar forms an important part in the series of African and international responses when it comes to those bad situations, and what followed in terms of violations to African human rights, dignity, and honor.
It is the most appropriate occasion to extend to Qatar represented in its Emir, government, and people, the sincerest thanks and appreciation, just as I look forward to this initiative being the beginning of comprehensive and sustainable international action to solve this phenomenon through essential initiatives to address the real causes of this phenomenon, and to work to uproot its interconnected roots with poverty, ignorance, and exclusion. The struggles against all these obstacles is at the heart of the continent's concerns, especially within the framework of 2063. Once again, I would like to convey my thanks to Qatar for this commendable effort, and, God willing, this initiative will be the beginning of teamwork. God willing, it will be in Africa and the Arab world and the international community in general to resolve this phenomenon, which affects African youth, who have resorted to migration, and in most cases, illegal migration. Many criminal organizations took advantage of this opportunity, and hired these youths to work outside the law. Thank you.
Question from a reporter: Can we know the number of people affected by this situation, and the amount that will cover them, which were donated by the State of Qatar. $20 million?
Chairperson of the African Union: Ever since the past year, and with cooperation with the European Union and the United Nations, we have returned what amounts to 30,000 Libyans to their country, but I think the number is bigger than that. I think this is just a beginning, and we hope to reach a solution to this very difficult issue. In Africa, we appreciate the Qatari initiative, the initiative of the Emir of Qatar to help these people so that they return to their homes.
Question from a reporter: Yesterday, Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, said that the solution to the Gulf crisis is far away while he was on a tour of the Gulf states…do you agree with his evaluation?
His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: Yesterday, we held discussions with the US Secretary of State about the Gulf crisis and the development of this crisis, as well as the effect of this crisis on many regional issues. What the Secretary of State meant is that there has been no progress in the crisis so far. Therefore, it is important that we regain the unity and strength of the Gulf through uniting the Gulf organization. The State of Qatar remains ready to enter into dialogue built on no pre-conditions, and that is what we have been saying since the first day. Unfortunately, this dialogue requires a desire from the two parties, as well as commitment from the two parties, and they are continuing with their unjust escalation and measures. This has been the State of Qatar's position since the first day of the crisis, and we will continue through its national agenda.
Question from a reporter: Your Excellency, what did Yusuf bin Alawi bring about in terms of the escalating Gulf crisis or was there an Omani momentum or a completion of the Kuwaiti initiative? We would like to know what Bin Alawi brought.
His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: With regards to the visit of His Excellency Yusuf bin Alawi. It came under a framework of the sisterly Sultanate of Oman's presidency of the current Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) session, and to consider and consult on how to activate all committees and mechanisms disabled by the GCC because of the last Gulf crisis. Of course, we in the State of Qatar, and since the first day, have been clear that the GCC shouldn't be deactivated because of the behavior of some of its countries, this process must be completed separately from these crises. But if we see within the framework of activating the council the benefits of activating this council in view of these unfair measures targeting the State of Qatar under blockade. It won't be worthwhile for the State of Qatar to participate in an effective way in these mechanisms, but we will continue to separate between the two matters, between the dispute concerning the blockading countries and the mechanism of the Council, and Qatar will not be obstructive to the process of the Council, whose results reflect on the Gulf peoples, and we will continue to be adamant that there must also be clear results for the Qatari people, and the other Gulf peoples as well.
Question from a reporter: There can be no doubt that you are aware that some of the Gulf countries and some Arab countries have recently been trying to normalize relations with the Syrian regime. We would like to know Qatar's position on some of the countries reopening their embassies in Damascus, and what is your position on the Arab League's normalization with the Syrian regime. Will we soon witness a Qatari embassy reopening in Syria?
His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: With regards to your question about Syria and the current normalization with the Syrian regime, and the calls to invite Syria back to the Arab League. The position of Qatar since the first day is that there are reasons why Syria's membership was suspended and frozen, and it was not allowed to participate. The reasons remain and are still there, so we don't see any encouraging factor for the return of Syria. There is no political solution, the Syrian people are still under bombardment and under dispersion by the Syrian regime, and the Syrian regime is still behaving in a way that does not care about its people. The normalization with the Syrian regime in this current situation is merely normalization for a person involved in war crimes, and this must never be acceptable. Our position in the State of Qatar is that there must be a political solution for Syria, the Syrian people must accept this solution, and not have it forced on them from the outside in the end. The State of Qatar will support any solution whatever, if this solution is supported by the Syrian people.
Question from a reporter: How do you evaluate the initiative of His Highness for supporting African efforts in general, and this initiative in particular?
Chairperson of the African Union: Yes, the relationship between Qatar and African nations is longstanding in many fields. This initiative concerns migrants returning from some countries and especially Libya. This is a humanitarian initiative, and this phenomenon, as I previously said, is the main concern of the African Union. We welcome this initiative, and we hope that other nations and other partners stand with us to solve this problem, because a big number of youth can currently be found in transit countries, trying to cross and are risking their lives. Many of them died drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, therefore this initiative came at the right time. But the relationship and partnership with Qatar is bigger than that in the framework of investment, and we are working hard to promote this relationship and partnership in the interest of the two parties.