The Ukrainian envoy said that a “very serious talk” was held with the Qatari side over the involvement of Mykolaiv’s ports in the Black Sea grain corridor.
Qatari ports operating company QTerminals has kept the jobs of Ukrainian workers in Port of Olvia, which it operates, despite the war, a Ukrainian official confirmed on Saturday.
“I would like to note that the Qatari side, despite the fact that the port is not functioning, has kept jobs for Ukrainian workers and continues to fully pay wages and take care of people,” Maksym Subkh, Ukraine’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, told Ukrinform.
In 2020, QTerminals was awarded a concession to develop, manage and operate Port of Olvia in Mykolaiv, under which the Qatari company invested at least $120 million. The concession term is 35 years, as per a statement by the Gulf state’s Ministry of Transport.
The port was subjected to attacks last year under the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine, which contributed to a global energy and food crisis.
During his interview with the Ukrainian news agency, Subkh noted that Qatar is not planning on pulling out of investments in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian envoy was also in Doha earlier this month, where he met with the head of QTerminals.
“The head of QTerminals also emphasised that the Qatari side has no intention of leaving the Ukrainian market,” Subkh said.
The Ukrainian official noted that the Qatari company is abiding by “the provisions of the contract on the occurrence of force majeure circumstances,” with plans to extend the concession agreement.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian companies are preparing proposals for Qatar regarding post-war reconstruction.
“Hence, there is a willingness to cooperate. However, Qatari funds are very pragmatic and require concise but very well prepared information. That is, each project must have a technical and economic rationale for how it will be implemented,” he said.
Black Sea grain initiative
Subkh added that a “very serious talk” was held with the Qatari side over the involvement of Mykolaiv’s ports in the Black Sea grain corridor.
The Ukrainian envoy also requested that Qatar appeals to the United Nations and Turkey, both which brokered the grain export deal last year, to pressure Russia to agree on the matter.
Last year, the deal enabled the export of Ukrainian grain following numerous talks between Turkey, the UN, Russia and Ukraine.
The agreement enabled the safe passage of more than 23 million tonnes of grain and other foods through the Black Sea, amid a global food shortage.
Qatar had welcomed the agreement at the time.
The deal was renewed earlier this month for 60 days, half the initial intended period as Russia said any further extension depends on the lifting of some western sanctions, Reuters reported at the time.
The initial agreement was renewed in November last year for an additional 120 days.
The renewal is a crucial step for countries that heavily rely on wheat exports from Russia and Ukraine.
Concerns over the global food shortage were raised in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February last year.
A year on, the total civilian casualties have surpassed 8,000, according to figures published by the UN.
Qatar’s stance on Russia-Ukraine
Since the beginning of the war, Qatar has repeatedly stated the need to protect Ukraine’s territorial integrity while also calling for a political solution.
In March last year, Qatar was among the 141 countries who voted on a UN resolution demanding Russia’s “immediate and complete” withdrawal from Ukraine.
Also in 2022, Qatar allocated $5 million through the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) to support Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons during a virtual Donors’ Conference for Ukraine.
In January, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stressed that the Gulf state does not accept the invasion of another country.
“First of all, politically speaking, when we are talking about the situation and the war, Qatar has a very clear political stance on this: we don’t accept the invasion of another country,” Sheikh Mohammed told CNBC.
The senior Qatari official added that the country does not accept “threatening by force or the use of force”.
“Our message to the Russians, to the Ukrainian has been always … these kinds of differences and disagreements shouldn’t be resolved in a battlefield, they should be resolved through dialogue,” Sheikh Mohammed noted.