Interview: Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah
What changes are to be expected in Qatar’s foreign policy agenda under the state’s new leadership?
KHALID BIN MOHAMMED AL ATTIYAH: Qatar’s foreign policy is based on the core principles and beliefs that are driven by the clear vision outlined under the guidance of the Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and the current Emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani. Today, the next generation of Qataris have taken up the baton and will continue building the country in line with the founding values of our nation. Strengthening international security by supporting the peaceful resolution of international disputes and supporting peoples’ right to self determination is at the centre of our foreign policy.
Over the past decade, Qatar has played a significant role as a regional mediator leading to major successes such as the end of violence and warfare in Lebanon in 2008. This dedication to resolving conflicts stems from the longstanding Qatari tradition of mediation. Our cultural norms also emphasise tolerance and openness, especially towards those facing difficulties.
Qatar maintains multiple balanced relationships on both regional and international levels. These relationships are built on mutual respect and common interests. For example, Qatar has been working actively with the GCC, the Arab League, the UN and the international community to reach common ground on several issues impacting the Arab world.
Do you anticipate foreign policy to be more uniform between Qatar and GCC member states going forward in regards to regional conflicts?
AL ATTIYAH: The state’s foreign policy is conducted in accordance with an integral strategic plan developed by the leadership of the country. The plan reflects the stances to be taken by the state on regional and international issues, such as bolstering bridges of joint Arab action in both the Gulf and Arab world. More cohesion will provide greater capacity to address the political and economic challenges facing the region. We have reiterated our stance in support other GCC countries, with the goal of enabling all members to address and overcome whatever challenges and threats they may face.
How do you foresee ties and regional diplomacy developing between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours?
AL ATTIYAH: Qatar enjoys strong bonds with all GCC member states in the areas of constitutional and legislative norms, executive powers, joint ventures, trade exchange, social movements, civil society and human rights. These connections will help facilitate further regional integration, increasing coordination and promoting the construction of joint infrastructure between Qatar and each of the GCC members.
Qatar is party to several agreements between GCC member states including the GCC Monetary Union; the GCC Counter-Terrorism Convention; the Security Convention among member states; and the Headquarters Agreement between the government of Qatar and the GCC Criminal Information Centre for Combating Drugs.
Qatar National Vision 2030 calls for the need to promote Qatar’s regional role at the socio-economic and cultural levels. It also calls for the fostering of cultural exchange, inter-civilisation dialogue and contributing to the achievement of international security and peace.
Given the ongoing situation in Syria, how can Qatar assist in finding a lasting resolution to the conflict?
AL ATTIYAH: The Syrian people are undergoing a human tragedy. There is not a glimpse of hope that this tragedy will end soon, given the Syrian regime’s insistence on resorting to violence and using military options to try and eliminate the revolution.
Qatar has vast experience resolving complex issues such as the successful attempt to defuse the civil war that was looming in Lebanon; realising reconciliation between Djibouti and Eritrea; bringing peace to Darfur; and facilitating the formation of the Syrian Coalition. Qatar is now doing its utmost to halt bloodshed in Syria. The objective is to develop a lasting resolution that will meet the aspirations of the Syrian people.
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