Security and defence, and other areas of co-operation between the UK and Qatar will not be affected by Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), British ambassador Ajay Sharma has stressed.
“The UK wants to see more co-operation in the area of security and defence as it recognises that Qatar’s security is our security; this region is very important for our security,” the envoy said.
Sharma expects collaboration with the two countries’ military on defence sales and training and security for the 2022 World Cup, including cybersecurity, to increase further despite Brexit.
Co-operation on education, science and technology, culture and other fields between the UK and Qatar will take place in the same way “if not more than that”, according to the envoy.
“I am very positive about UK-Qatar relations and I don’t think that this (Brexit) decision will change our desire or the Qataris’ desire to develop that co-operation further,” he said.
Sharma added that no immediate change will take place until the UK leaves the EU, which may take another two years, more or less, depending on the time-table. These include movements of people and goods and open skies, among others.
With the Brexit, he said they will try to take advantage of the opportunities and meet the challenges in working their way through the negotiations with the EU as the UK continues to further develop its relationship with other countries in the world, including Qatar.
“At the end of the day, I am confident about our ability to make the best of the situation we find ourselves in, and we will rely on the expertise of our people, the strength of our economy and our already good relations with so many countries in the world,” he noted.
“I don’t think people should think that the UK is starting from scratch somehow. We have a history of extensive relations with countries like Qatar, with the GCC, and we will develop that further,” Sharma said. “It is about opportunities and managing these challenges.”
For now, he noted, the UK remains a member of the EU and still has obligations as any member.
Once out of the EU, the envoy stressed that they would also continue to have co-operation in various areas such as trade and investments with EU members and other countries.
“We have co-operation and dialogue with Qatar on security challenges on the regional issues. Qatar is not part of the EU but we still have a dialogue with them, we still have a dialogue with the Americans on lots of issues but they are not part of the EU,” he said.