Page language:
English

Qatar: Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the joint press conference with Deputy PM/Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani

30.09.2021
Brussels

Check against delivery!

Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Foreign Affairs [of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani], thank you very much for your hospitality and for your warm reception.

This is my first visit to Doha as High Representative of the European Union for Foreign [Affairs] and Security Policy. But, I have had the pleasure and the honour to meet with the Foreign Minister/Deputy Prime Minister on several occasions, last one in New York.

But I came here to underline the very good bilateral relations that the European Union and Qatar have, and appreciate a lot your cooperation on important global issues.

Qatar is a good friend of Europe. We are your second biggest trading partner, you are a reliable energy provider - and on these times it is especially important - and we work jointly on several regional issues. But I believe, Minister, that there is potential to do more together – at the regional level and globally-, and we want to explore these possibilities.

I am very thankful for having had the opportunity of meeting with His Highness, the Emir of Qatar [Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani], and I just had a good meeting with my friend the Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Foreign Affairs [Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani], continuing our talks in New York [last week].

Allow me to announce that the European Union will soon open a Delegation in Doha, next year. This will be an important event in order to boost our ties.

We will also soon sign an Agreement on Civil Aviation. Qatar will be the first country in the Gulf with whom we conclude such an Aviation Agreement. This will bring our people closer and generate new jobs.

Being here, I want especially to express our deep gratitude for the crucial role that Qatar and Qatar Airways played in helping with the repatriations of European Union citizens twice. First, at the worst moment of the COVID-19 pandemic, when you were playing an important role, your planes and your hub, your airport, to repatriate our people; and recently, with the evacuation of European Union citizens and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul.

I have to congratulate you also for the Shura Council elections that will take place in 2 days. We welcome this important step and I wish the Qatari Government and Qatari people success in them.

Also, the improvement of migrant workers' rights, which we have encouraged and welcomed. And also [I want to] congratulate you, Minister, for your overall good progress on COVID-19 vaccination. I am glad that Qatar was added to the list of safe countries to travel to Europe.

I think that we have an ambition for a broader and more strategic partnership with Qatar.

This includes the big issues of our time: climate change, green transition, renewable energy, connectivity and to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have the COP26 in Glasgow soon and we are launching this Global Methane Pledge, setting a global reduction target of at least 30% below 2020 levels, and we hope that Qatar can join in this effort.

But, certainly, Afghanistan has played a very important role in our talks, because Qatar is a country that plays a strategic role in dealing with the new situation in Afghanistan. You are playing an important role in facilitating interactions with the authorities in Kabul and the Western world. You did it during the evacuations; you are doing that keeping the airport in Kabul open, and I am sure you will continue doing that ensuring not only safe passage for those who need, but also the delivery of humanitarian support and also with all contacts and engagement needed in support of the Afghan people.

You are going to play a very important role in facilitating messaging to the Taliban about the expectations of the international community, and particularly from the European Union.

A second issue of mutual interest is the JCPOA [Iran nuclear deal]. This is a key moment for the nuclear deal and we continue working towards a quick resumption of the negotiations in Vienna. There, also, you can play an important role on pushing these negotiations to resume as soon as possible. We both know that the Iranians are ready to re-engage, to resume [the negotiations], but it has to be done as quickly as possible.

Last but not least, we also had the opportunity to talk about the situation in the Gulf, where I am very much pleased to see the normalisation of relations among the Gulf Cooperation Council [members] that we have always encouraged.

To sum up, this is a good moment to stress the importance of the relationship between the European Union and Qatar. We have done a lot; we have to do still more. The world is waiting for your role in solving one of the biggest challenges of our time.

Thank you Minister.

 

Q&A

 

Q. You said repeatedly that we need to judge the Taliban on their actions. We have seen hangings on public squares and girls denied education. What is you assessment of their performance so far? Have you sorted assurances on the supply of gas to the European Union to reduce the bloc’s dependency on Russian gas this winter?

I want to express my agreement with your words, Minister. Some of the things that have happened in Afghanistan recently have been quite disappointing. Let us hope that we can manage to reorient the behaviour of the new Afghan government, but I count on you also for that. I am sure you will have a stronger influence on this side.

To tell the truth, we have not talked a lot about gas. Certainly, we have been commenting the increase on energy prices, which is something of strong concern in Europe. The price of gas is increasing and it is driving also increases on the price of electricity. This is something that concerns the European Union. We are going to deal with that on the next meetings of the European Commission and the European Council. But we consider Qatar a very reliable energy provider. I do not know if we are going to have scarcity of gas this winter. I do not know which is going to be the behaviour of Russia –maybe you know more than I do– , but in any case, I am sure that we can count on Qatar to face any kind of shortage.

Q. There have been several statements regarding the resumption of the nuclear talks [with Iran]. You just said that the talks will resume soon, but how soon are we talking about?

“Soon” is an undefined measure of time. It means different things in different cultures. For sure, “soon” does not mean the same thing in London than in Beijing. But I have been talking with the new Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran [Hussein Amir-Abdollahian] and when he told me “soon”, I understood “soon” on a measure of time which is in accordance with the requests of the other members of the board of the JCPOA. As Coordinator of these talks, I am convinced that the talks will resume in a timeline that will be acceptable for everybody.

 

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-211536

Peter Stano
Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
+32 (0)460 75 45 53
Elisa Castillo Nieto
Press Officer for Foreign Affairs and Security
+32 (0)2 29 63803