Emir was first leader to call Erdogan: Qatar envoy

Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was the first leader to call President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when events surrounding the foiled coup began to unfold on Friday night, Qatari Ambassador to Turkey Salem Mubarak Al Shafi said yesterday.

The Emir expressed his solidarity with the legitimate and elected leadership of Turkey and rejected the coup attempt.

This is a clear evidence of the strong and incredible brotherly relations between Qatar and Turkey. This stance of Qatar was based on its solid principle of supporting the legitimacy of elected governments and rejecting military coups that threaten security and stability and push the region towards destruction.

The relations between Turkey and Qatar are strategic, solid and have passed many challenges in the past, but these challenges have always helped enhance the ties and make them stronger, Al Shafi stressed.

He added: “Our position was very clear from the first moment of the coup attempt, and our Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the first Ministry to issue a statement standing beside the people of Turkey and its legitimate leadership. Some considered our reaction as hasty because the coup attempt was still there and ‘possibly a success’”. What Qatar did was based on its principles, he added.

There was public and official appreciation of the Qatari stand and many officials and ministers praised Qatar’s position and the friendly ties of the two countries, Al Shafi told this daily.

Speaking about his participation in the urgent and exceptional session of the parliament held to discuss the developments, he said “my participation was also appreciated because I was the only other Arab ambassador to attend the session along with the Palestinian Ambassador and around 75 Western diplomats.” Describing the situation during the coup attempt, Ambassador Al Shafi said: “When I arrived at the parliament building, I found a huge crowd of people and they were chanting slogans and demanding the parliament members to reinstate the capital punishment and bring the coup plotters to justice. I was shocked by the destruction of the parliament building and the damage caused when the coup plotters tried to bomb the building.”

Asked whether the Qatari position will help enhance and strengthen the bilateral cooperation in different fields, Ambassador Al Shafi pointed out that a big leap was achieved in trade volume compared to the previous years. He added, “we are seeking to raise the volume of bilateral trade, which is currently between $1.4 to 1.9bn to $3bn in the first phase and then to $ 5bn.

Qatar and Turkey are keen to increase investments in infrastructure projects, particularly the projects of FIFA World Cup 2022.

Moreover, Al Shafi explained that during the past period the government and private sector investments increased to cover many fields including media (Digiturk) and banking sector (Finance Bank, ABank) in addition to mega energy projects under study.

He said he was very optimistic about the bilateral and economic relations “as we are working hard to meet our ambitions and hope to further strengthen as we convened the first meeting of Qatari-Turkish Supreme Strategic Committee early December last year”. The meeting was jointly headed by Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In the meeting, 16 agreements were signed covering areas of finance, education, environment, transport, security, media, archive, scientific research, energy and free movement of citizens.

During the last Ramadan, H H Emir visited Turkey to discuss bilateral issues and the second meeting of Qatari-Turkish Supreme Strategic Committee will be held within the next five months and more agreements will be signed.

“On this occasion, I would like to express my thanks to Prime Minister H E Sheikh Abdulla, who was in touch with the Qatari Embassy to ensure the safety of Qataris and their requirements. I also thank our Foreign Minister who was giving constant instructions to the Qatari mission. Accordingly, we established an operation room to deal with the developments and ensure the safety and security of Qatari citizens in Turkey”.

Ambassador Al Shafi pointed out that Abdulla Naimy, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Thani and the General Consul Khalid Al Sulaity and Mansoor Al Mansuri to be contact persons for Qataris in Turkey and two planes were ready at that time for them to leave the country. Thanks to Qatar Airways and its CEO Akbar Al Baker who responded to the emergency. Finally, I would like to thank all Qataris in Turkey and my fellow citizens in Qatar.

“The situation in Turkey has returned to normalcy and there is nothing to worry about and we will be available round the clock to serve you.”

Source: The Peninsula

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