The German chancellor also praised the Al Ula Declaration 2021 and the steps taken to deepen relations between the Gulf states.
The German chancellor referred to Qatar’s ‘overt’ stance against the war in Ukraine during a press conference in the Gulf state’s capital on Sunday, marking his first official visit to Doha since taking up his role.
Olaf Scholz said Berlin and Doha share the same position on the conflict, pointing to international norms based on peaceful coexistence, while reiterating that Germany rejects any interference with the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine.
The remarks came during a joint press conference between Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Scholz at the Amiri Diwan on Sunday.
Scholz visited three Gulf Cooperation Countries, beginning with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and ending with Qatar on Sunday.
The press conference in Doha began with the amir expressing that Qatar and Germany share a common desire to strengthen bilateral ties in a number of areas, particularly in business, culture, higher education, and sports.
Highlighting the economic link between both countries, Sheikh Tamim pinpointed the Gulf nation as one of the biggest investors in Germany, saying the Qatar Investment Authority continues to search for opportunities in Germany.
The Qatari leader also echoed Qatar’s long standing stance of dialogue and diplomatic methods as means of resolutions for various differences, adding that both sides share such sentiment.
The amir went further to say no solution is possible without sitting at the negotiating table. Both leaders also pointed to the German-Qatari joint approach to avoid the use of force in any form, especially in the developments of the situation in Ukraine.
Both sides renewed their call to all parties to cease fire as soon as possible and engage in constructive dialogue to end the conflict and resolve differences through peaceful means.
Sheikh Tamim also revealed that QatarEnergy and German energy firms are considering potential options, indicating in order to meet the rising worldwide demand for gas, Doha has been preparing to expand its North Gas Field for years.
However, no further details were provided of an official energy agreement signed between the two sides.
As of last week, reports privy to the matter said that German utilities RWE and Uniper were inching closer to sealing long-term agreements to purchase LNG from Qatar’s North Field Expansion project in an attempt to replace Russian gas.
Differences in important conditions, such as contract length and price, have thrown a spanner in the negotiations between Germany and Qatar, however according to the unnamed industry sources, the parties were expected to reach a ‘compromise’ soon, Reuters repoted.
The largest economy in Europe is looking to replace all Russian energy imports by as early as mid-2024.
During the joint press conference on Sunday, Scholz said that his conversation with the amir regarding liquefied gas imports saw the two sides agree on ambitions to make more progress in the area.
The German top official further emphasised the continuation of cooperation with Doha in the fields of hydrogen and electricity production, while hoping to deepen shared cooperation in other economic fields, including air navigation, advanced technology and heavy machinery.
With regards to the 2015 nuclear deal, Qatar’s amir declared that he shared the German chancellor’s view that it is ‘crucial’ to support efforts to reach a deal with the Islamic Republic regarding its nuclear program.
He added that he looked forward to starting dialogue with other nations and that the agreement would support security and stability in the region.
The same sentiment was echoed by the Gulf country’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani who noted that Doha believes in the importance of returning to the 2015 nuclear deal as it “will contribute to the stability of the region.”
The amir had recently stressed that while no party had officially approached Doha for mediation, it maintained a communication portal between Iran and the United States.
“Of course, there are differences, everyone has some, but we must sit down and talk about them, directly between us and the Iranians, without outside interference,” Sheikh Tamim said in a major new interview with French outlet Le Point, the first such press appearance since becoming leader in 2013.
In June, Qatar hosted a round of two-day indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in an effort to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Speaking in Doha on Sunday, Sholz said that the talks also reviewed Tehran’s regional role and efforts to salvage the JCPOA.
Regarding the Afghan peace process, both Qatar and Germany stressed the significance of rapprochement between all Afghan people as well as the need to uphold human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls to education, Sheikh Tamim said during the press conference.
The pair also emphasised the need for a joint international strategy to create a sufficient road map and stressed that the risk of further isolating Afghanistan could ‘backfire’.
Catching up with Qatar’s foreign minister in New York on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Doha News asked Sheikh Mohammed on the latest situation in Afghanistan and the international community’s efforts in supporting them.
More than a year since the Taliban takeover of Kabul, the Qatari diplomat noted that to date there is no clarity “on the way forward” for the country.
“We’ve been advising the international community that we need to arrange a blueprint for the way forward—what are the required series of conditions we need from the current leadership in Afghanistan, in exchange of what we can provide as an international community,” Sheikh Mohammed told Doha News.
Scholz recalled on Sunday Doha’s assistance to Germany in 2021, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Qatar’s role in the evacuation of German citizens from around the world and returning them to Germany, in addition to evacuating its citizens from Afghanistan.
The German leader personally thanked the Gulf country’s leader for the efforts of his country.
The amir also made it clear that Doha and Berlin confirm their support for international initiatives to resume the political process in Libya, desirably reach an agreement on the constitutional framework for elections, and uniting Libyan state institutions.
In August, at least 32 people were killed in deadly clashes, amid rising tensions between the UN-backed Government of National Unity (GNU) and the newly-appointed rival administration of Fathi Bashagha.
Qatar previously called on all parties in Tripoli to avoid escalation and bloodshed as the clashes continued. The Gulf state stressed “the need for the Libyan parties to work to ensure the protection of civilians and facilities, and to consider this a top priority.”
World Cup 2022
Sheikh Tamim also expressed his ‘happiness’ towards the increasing demand in 2022 FIFA World Cup tickets in Germany, wishing the German national team success and welcoming Sholz and German fans alike in Qatar.
Meanwhile, Sholz said these types of tournaments and events contribute to people better understanding one another, echoing similar sentiments made by the amir earlier this year.
The German top official also praised Qatar’s developments in the migrant’s rights reforms, namely the abolishment of the sponsorship (kafala) system, and the “wonderful improvement” of the workers’ situation in the Gulf country.
Qatar rolled out a range of reforms to address growing concerns back in 2020, garnering praise from world leaders and rights institutions for what has been described as historic reforms.
The changes, introduced in 2020, allow migrant workers to change jobs before the end of their contract without first having to obtain a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) from their employer, dismantling the controversial Kafala system completely and providing protection for workers in the country.
Qatar’s international scrutiny over its treatment of migrant workers has prompted the onset of various calls for boycott, with Norway initiating the movement in Europe. Among those who joined calls for boycott were the Netherlands and Germany, both of which decided not to follow through.
In March last year, the German Football Association confirmed it will not be boycotting the 2022 Qatar World Cup, despite the football team taking a stand at the qualifying game against Iceland.
The team lined up before kickoff wearing t-shirts displaying the message “HUMAN RIGHTS.” The German FA had said that it would support the team in pledging support for the rights of migrant workers in Qatar.
In May, Sheikh Tamim took aim at the unfair criticism of the Gulf state by the west over its hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
This came during his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in which the amir tapped into attacks launched against the Gulf state for being the first in the Middle East to host the major sporting event.
“For decades now, the Middle East has suffered, from discrimination. And I have found that such discrimination is largely based on people not knowing us, and in some cases, refusing to get to know us,” said Sheikh Tamim.