HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: The United Nations General Assembly elected the State of Qatar as Vice-President of the Assembly. This, if anything, demonstrates the active role of the State of Qatar in the international community.
As was the presidency of His Highness the Emir during the high-level week, where he presented several topics during his speech before the General Assembly. The first topic is the need to move beyond crisis management and to pursue comprehensive and just solutions based on international law and standards.
His Highness the Emir also announced the agreement between the State of Qatar and the United Nations to support long-term and sustainable development projects to combat cholera in Yemen. His Highness also expressed the importance of combating digital piracy and digital espionage because of their impact on security and stability in the region.
The topics of counter-terrorism and the importance of international cooperation in combating terrorism and addressing the root causes of violent extremism were also raised. In addition to the General Assembly, His Highness the Emir participated, alongside the Prime Minister of Canada, in hosting the "Leaders' Dialogue on Education for Girls in the Context of Fragile Condition". His Highness also announced the State of Qatar's pledge to provide quality education to one million girls by 2021. Qatar's delegation also participated in the "Asian Cooperation Dialogue"; there was a meeting to receive the presidency of the State of Qatar for this institution for the year 2019. Qatar's vision for this year is to achieve economic integration among Asian countries. The State of Qatar stressed that it will work towards achieving Asian consensus and cooperation and developing a mechanism of actions among countries to achieve economic integration and enhance competitiveness.
During our multilateral – bilateral commitments, we also discussed several regional issues. The first was the Palestinian cause, and the State of Qatar was present at the side event of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), as Qatar is one of the largest contributors and supports of this institution. We stressed the importance of continued support for this institution because of its vital role towards the brotherly Palestinian people, especially the refugees.
I met the Afghan Foreign Minister and US Envoy on Afghanistan and discussed ways to support the political solution in Afghanistan.
As for the Syrian crisis, we were present at the high-level meeting organized by the European Union. There, we affirmed the State of Qatar's adoption of the vision of a political solution in accordance with Security Council resolutions and Geneva Declaration (1). In addition, the State of Qatar and Liechtenstein hosted a side event on "The Independent International Mechanism for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for War Crimes in Syria."
As for Yemen, an agreement was signed between the State of Qatar and UNICEF on the implementation of development projects that provide sustainable solutions to villages affected by cholera.
Developments in Somalia have also been addressed, and we have stressed the State of Qatar's support for the Somali Government.
As for Iraq, there were meeting with the United States of America, to consider the provision of a mechanism of coping with the water problems suffered by residents of the city of Basra.
On combating terrorism, the State of Qatar has a partnership with various United Nations organizations. I had a meeting with the Under-Secretary-General for Counterterrorism, in which we stressed the continued support of the State of Qatar for these efforts and relevant projects that address the root causes of terrorism, especially in the field of education and youth empowerment.
The issue of coordination and cooperation with regional bodies was also brought up, where there was a meeting with the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union and the High Representative of the European Union to emphasize partnership and consultation with these institutions in various security issues.
Last but not least, there was a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council with the United States of America, in addition to Egypt and Jordan. First, we congratulate the United States for its success in bringing together the GCC countries, which the GCC, unfortunately, failed to do during the past year and a half of the Gulf crisis. Several issues were brought up security and regional challenges surrounding the region, and the discussion of the Middle East Strategic Alliance initiative.
The State of Qatar stressed the importance of this initiative so long as it is in accordance with clear principles and work on them according to a discussion that is characterized by transparency and credibility. The current situation, among the Member States present in this gathering, requires discussing the challenges between these countries before there is a movement of the group to address the regional challenges. This provides us with a real test of the credibility of this collective action.
There are key principles that must be an integral part of any alliance: Respect for the sovereignty of States and the independence of their policies, achieve the collective interests of the people brought together by this Alliance, and that the Alliance should be based on clear and neutral criteria "and not on the size of a particular State".
We also spoke about the importance of an alliance based on "clear strategies" and a roadmap that would be created in an integrated, ready and not "fragile" manner.
This is a summary of what happened this week. Thank you.
Question: Your Excellency, an Emirati official told us that the Gulf crisis is no longer an important priority for them. Do you share this view?
The other question is what do you ask of the United States of America as the only mediator now?
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: Regarding the UAE official's statement about the Gulf crisis. At first, the crisis was fabricated without reasons and was launched by an electronic crime to create this crisis and those who are behind the crime are known. However, today there are greater regional challenges. It is true that there are other priorities, but when the GCC was the only effective institution of gathering among the countries of the region, these regional challenges were better addressed and dealt with positively. Today, the GCC is in complete paralysis and what progress have we made in regional challenges? Have we achieved any developments in Syria? Yemen? Libya? There is a matter that our priorities are based on the challenges surrounding us. They have set it as a priority for themselves because they do not want to face the facts and choose to currently ignore them as they have nothing to confront them is their own matter and reflects their priorities.
As for the United States, we appreciate and value the partnership between the State of Qatar and the United States, and respect the partnership between the United States and other GCC countries. The State of Qatar is asking for nothing but the dismissal of all illegal actions taken by some countries (the four countries) against Qatar, that is our priority. As for the political aspects of this crisis, it can be solved through a discussion and communication between the parties and not by stubbornness, as we are states and not children.
Question: Al-Jazeera: The Qatari Minister of Defense said that there is one person who can solve this crisis and that person is the President of the United States, and he can do so via a telephone call. The siege has entered its second year and he did not make this call? Or did the American efforts not succeed? What is the obstacle?
Second, regarding the Middle East Alliance. Do you think that there is any chance of success, whether the United States emphasizes the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council while this dialogue and crisis continues?
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: Regarding the American efforts. We appreciate and value the efforts of President Donald Trump and his attempts to resolve this crisis. There have been several attempts by the President. Unfortunately, the response by the four blockading countries was not as positive as the President had hoped for. We hope that wisdom will prevail among these countries and that these countries face the facts courageously, get out of the state of denial they are currently living in and that there is a clear dialogue. What are the reasons behind this crisis? What are the reasons that led to their escalation to this level with the State of Qatar? It is true that the State of Qatar has social and cultural relations between us and the GCC countries, we share borders with them and many other factors. In the end, they look at the State of Qatar from a different perspective "we do not need the State of Qatar" and other such views. They are willing to continue their siege for 10, 20 or 50 years, as my Saudi colleague mentioned, but our questions to them are "is this how politics is practiced? Is this how priorities are set? Is this how the issues affecting the lives of our people are dealt with?" It is up to them because the State of Qatar does not take assistance from any of these countries and does not rely on them for anything. In the end, if we look at it from this superficial perspective we can say that we too, do not need them.
However, we are concerned about the region and are interested in its security because at the end of the day it is the security of our people too.
As for your second question about the alliance. As explained in the first summary of the day, the issue of the Gulf crisis is a test of the credibility of this alliance. If we enter a regional gathering in this way and there is a fundamental disagreement on security concepts among the member states of this gathering, the gathering will not be established on clear grounds and will not succeed.
This is why we have put forward a clear proposal. We do not want to launch an initiative and have it die in its infancy. We want to launch this initiative and have it be a strong and sustainable one, but this strength only comes from understanding and creating the groundwork from that understanding.
Question: Your Excellency, on this issue of the strategic alliance. Did you get a response from the US regarding your conditions to enter into the alliance?
The second question is about the "de Muestra" plan and the three lists. There is a list responsible for the formation of the "de Muestra", to what extent are you aware of this and what is your response to the objections by some?
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: First, we are not at the stage of entering into conditions with the United States or others regarding entering this alliance. We propose our view of this alliance that should be based on clear foundations. This is the view of the State of Qatar and in the end, this point of view is discussed whether we are right or wrong. Our vision in Qatar is that the alliance should be based on clear rules, criteria and a more positive atmosphere than the current one.
As for your question regarding the composition of a constitutional committee in Syria, we support the efforts of UN Envoy Stephane de Muestra, and we hope that this step will be a step towards a political solution. We see that what is happening in Syria at the minute is all about military actions and the reduction of military escalation and we have not seen any possibility of a political solution. If this is to be the starting point for reaching a political solution, the State of Qatar supports it.
Question: Could you please answer my question in English, because we had problems with the translation. Did you tell us about the status of negotiations including the participation of the United States of America, or even within the GCC countries, in order to reconcile between the State of Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the UAE and other countries?
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: With regard to negotiations, there is still no negotiation between the GCC countries or even between the State of Qatar and the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The United States of American and its President sent several letters to the leaders of the GCC to revoke the measures taken against the State of Qatar and resort to dialogue in order to reach an understanding, but there were no positive responses from Saudis and Emiratis. Qatar remains open to dialogue and to understand the reasons for this blockade and the rationale behind it. The United States has stressed the unity of the GCC to be more united and successful.
Question: What is the response of the other countries that had their foreign ministers meet with the US Secretary of State "Pompeo" and to President Trump's speech demanding the OPEC countries to reduce oil prices and the Gulf states to pay more for US protection? What is your response to this, especially with regard to the role of OPEC and the reduction of oil prices?
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: With regard to the alliance and the establishment of the alliance while ignoring what is happening in GCC countries. We think that this would not have been effective. We said we are calling for any other ways because we are facing major challenges until we prove the reliability of this alliance. We think there is a change, as we have failed for the past year and a half to come together and the United States has succeeded three times in bringing us together. First at the military level.
Secondly, in combating the financing of terrorism and third as foreign ministers. After a year and a half, we think that the opportunity is like to come up with a plan leading to a solution to this blockade, but our advice to our friends in the USA is that this will not be sustainable.
As for President Trumps call to reduce oil prices. First, we appreciate our relationships and partnerships with the US. We also appreciate the partnership built on mutual interests and benefits between the two countries, however, the State of Qatar produces oil, but we are not a strong member of OPEC. Even if we decided to increase our production, it will have no effect on the price. The other thing is when we decide to pay for reconstruction or to help our brothers in the region, it is part of our duty and commitments as an active member of the region. This policy originated from the State of Qatar and not from abroad.
Question: There is a decline in interest in the Palestinian cause in the United Nations, as some Arab delegations have avoided talking or mentioning the Palestinian cause. What is your assessment of the interest, especially since Qatar is very focused in its speech on the Palestinian issue? On the other hand, Qatar voted for the extension of the investigation team in Yemen, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE voted against it. Has the disagreement within the Gulf crisis moved to international organizations and what is your point of view in the solution for Yemen?
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: Regarding the Palestinian cause. The Palestinian cause is always at the center of the State of Qatar's concern and at the center of the concerns of all Arab countries. It is not overlooked because it wasn't mentioned in a speech or statement, and it is not forgotten and is very much alive in the hearts of the Arab people. All Arabs agree on the matter and are looking for a just and sustainable solution to restore the rights of the brotherly Palestinian people.
Regarding the Human Rights Council. First, the expert report issued by the Council sadly included shocking facts and horrific human rights abuses against civilians in Yemen. The extension of the mission does not come from a political assessment of the involvement of the coalition or not. The report condemns all parties to the Yemeni crisis and does not condemn the coalition party only. The evaluation is a technical assessment of the issue that there are ongoing violations, and there will be a report to the relevant international mechanisms in this regard. Otherwise, there would be no need for such mechanisms. As for the vision of the State of Qatar to resolve the crisis in Yemen, the State of Qatar is still set on international resolutions and resolutions of the Security Council to support the Gulf initiative, that was the beginning of the solution to the Yemeni crisis. After the coup against these outputs and this political process, we still insist that the main solution is a political solution according to the mechanisms agreed upon previously. There must be a direct Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue. Unfortunately, we have not seen this for a long time and we always call on all Yemeni parties to engage in positive and constructive dialogue.
Question: The Jordanian Foreign Minister said that during a meeting this morning with the US Secretary of State that they are looking for ideas of cooperation. What are these ideas and have you agreed on a new date to meet?
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: No date has been agreed upon yet. The ideas that were put forward are the ideas that dealt with the subject of the alliance and put forward the view of the State of Qatar. On the contrary, Qatar welcomes any form of cooperation with the United States and welcomes cooperation with a partnership in the region but it must be in accordance with clear principles and criteria.
Question: Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, will speak tomorrow in Kuwait and it is said that the Gulf crisis will be at the top of the agenda, do you think there will be any developments?
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: According to our information, there is no news about the Gulf crisis. As I said, that the situation is still the same and there is no progress. We are working on today's meeting, but we are not seeing anything.
Question: My question is about the GCC meeting. Have you made any progress, or have you had a recent exchange or were there disturbed feelings?
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: Of course, we are welcoming of everyone and we see them at other events and platforms. It is not taken personally, it is a political conflict or political dispute and we must discuss it in a civilized way. The State of Qatar has presented its view clearly and in front of everyone and we expect them to have a different view and present it in the same way. If confrontations are not expected there will be no progress.
Question: I wonder if there is a role for the State of Qatar in the Afghan peace process and arranging meetings between the US officials and Taliban officials?
His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs: We usually believe in diplomacy behind closed doors versus advertising diplomacy. The State of Qatar has a representative office for the Taliban, and of course coordination with the United States of America. The reason for this office for the Taliban is to bring peace to Afghanistan and nothing else. So its focus is to create a sustainable environment and bring the government together with the Taliban in order to reach peace and Qatar is committed to this role.