Interview: Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah
Given the state’s current economic agenda, where is Qatar looking to develop diplomatic ties and why?
KHALID BIN MOHAMMED AL ATTIYAH: Our foreign policy, both at the regional and international level, is characterised by the utmost openness. Qatar is working to further promote and develop cooperation with all countries, as well as with international organisations, and to foster the development of bilateral and multilateral relations to serve the public policy of the state. These relationships work to support the economic vision adopted by Qatar’s leadership through the strengthening of political and economic partnerships with numerous countries.
This foreign policy is particularly important, as it has transformed the bilateral relationships between the State of Qatar and other countries into strategic partnerships based on a framework of economic, commercial, cultural and political cooperation. We approach all our relations with friendly nations with the goal of investigating opportunities of joint interest for our people and the peoples of others countries.
To what extent do the state’s economic interests influence foreign policy?
AL ATTIYAH: We evaluate our relationships with everyone in accordance to common interests between both parties. Qatar’s foreign politics are clear and respected by everyone, a policy that serves our economic development among other aspects, although our economic interests do not affect our foreign policy.
Qatar has fostered positive relations in Europe and Asia. Where do more distant regions like Latin America fit into the country’s development strategy?
AL ATTIYAH: Just as the work of the state has focused on the development of relations and partnerships with many European and Asian countries, we are also seeking to strengthen relations with various Latin American countries through the exchange of visits at the highest level. This led to the signing of several agreements in 2014, especially in the areas of economic cooperation and trade. Qatar is seeking to further these relationships and create partnerships based on greater cooperation and common interests, especially considering this region has a great variety of economic and commercial possibilities, and represents a promising market for the State of Qatar.
What steps are being taken towards a more unified agenda among GCC members after the recent disagreement with some of Qatar’s Gulf neighbours?
AL ATTIYAH: We in Qatar are eager to enhance relations with our brothers in the GCC, at the bilateral level and within the council system itself, in order to achieve common goals. What links Qatar to our brotherly cooperation is extended through our historical ties to the council, and we are keen to maintain those strong relations as they have always been.
In this sense, emerging differences between member states becomes a thing of the past and will not affect the process of future relations, because what bonds the State of Qatar and other Gulf states will always be stronger than any impact that the difference of opinion on specific issues could have.
What role is Qatar playing in neutralising ISIS in the region? How do regional movements like this impact domestic safety and affect economic performance?
AL ATTIYAH: We are working in this area through the international alliance system, which is leading the war against terrorism, and supporting the coalition’s efforts. But we believe that the basis of the crisis is the Syrian regime, which has created an environment in which extremism can flourish. Therefore, it is important that the international community does not lose sight of the situation in Syria and focus solely on fighting extremist organisations. This approach will not lead to the eradication of extremism, and will provide the Syrian regime with further opportunities to evade its obligations and responsibilities to the Syrian people. Protection of the Syrian people must be a priority in this effort.
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