On 16 January, the State of Qatar and the Republic of Belarus celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. In connection with the anniversary date, the leaders of the two friendly states exchanged greetings. In his message, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus-Qatar relations are based on the principles of friendship and trust and have been developing rapidly. The countries have exchanged visits at the highest level, opened embassies in Minsk and Doha, set up an intergovernmental commission and established constructive cooperation in trade, investment, education and sport.
In an interview with the Belarusian news agency BelTA Charge d'Affaires ad interim of the State of Qatar in Belarus Meshaal Al Attiyah shared his opinion on the importance of the anniversary date for the two states, talked about constructive bilateral cooperation and some of the priorities in the development of his country.
Qatar is proud of relations with Belarus
“In connection with the anniversary date of the diplomatic relations, Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sent a congratulatory message to Aleksandr Lukashenko. His Highness gave a high estimate of the level of bilateral relations and expressed sincere congratulations and wishes, hailed the progress in bilateral relations and reaffirmed the commitment to maintaining and strengthening our relations in various areas,” the diplomat said.
He stressed that the State of Qatar is proud of the outstanding level of relations between the two friendly countries. According to the diplomat, since diplomatic relations were established in 1996, the bilateral cooperation has marked several important milestones including the exchange of visits at the highest level. The Belarusian president has made several official visits to the State of Qatar, the first of which took place in 2001. In 2009, His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani visited Minsk. A important result of the visit was the agreement to set up Belarus-Qatar joint intergovernmental commission, which gave a powerful impetus to bilateral relations,” Charge d'Affaires Meshaal Al Attiyah said.
The head of the diplomatic mission recalled that as a result of numerous visits at various levels, the governments of the two countries have signed 26 agreements and a memorandum of understanding, which became a solid basis for building up strong relations in various avenues.
In his opinion, the opening of the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Minsk a year ago was a further evidence of the country's interest in strengthening relations with the Republic of Belarus.
“The State of Qatar is looking forward to the end of the COVID-19 epidemic in order to continue working with our Belarusian friends to develop and strengthen cooperation in all areas with a view to raising our relations to the level that the leaderships of the two countries aspire to. We, in turn, are ready to do everything to achieve these goals,” Charge d'Affaires Meshaal Al Attiyah said.
Qatar is for peace and friendship with all countries
The head of the diplomatic mission noted that the State of Qatar is committed to establishing friendly relations with all countries. “The State of Qatar is admired by many because of its achievements in human development, economic and social growth for all citizens. At the international level, the country has earned worldwide respect thanks to active diplomacy, which, through numerous initiatives, both multilateral and bilateral, seeks to make international life safer and fairer,” he continued.
“The State of Qatar has always sought to strengthen friendly relations with all nations. Thanks to the wisdom of the Qatar leadership and the efforts of many parties, the State of Kuwait and the United States of America, the Persian Gulf countries have been able to overcome the crisis caused by the blockade imposed against Qatar in 2017. On 5 January 2021, the Al Ula Declaration was signed between the Persian Gulf countries and Qatar during the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Saudi Arabia. The declaration enshrines the principles of good neighborliness and mutual respect, friendship and brotherhood between peoples and the intention to open new horizons for cooperation in all areas between the countries of the region,” the diplomat said.
According to the diplomat, in pursuit of international peace and security, the State of Qatar was one of the first to roll out the initiatives to establish peace and ease tensions in various regions. “Qatar's efforts to bring the warring factions to the negotiating table in Afghanistan have received broad international support. These efforts finally culminated in the signing of a peace agreement between the United States of America and the Taliban in February 2020, and also the launch of peace talks on Afghanistan in Doha in September 2020, in the hope that Afghanistan would become a safer place that would fulfill the Afghan people's aspirations for development and prosperity,” he noted.
Qatar's anti-corruption fight on the global level
Charge d'Affaires Meshaal Al Attiyah stressed that Qatar's national and international priorities include the fight against corruption and efforts to enhance integrity and competence, good governance, transparency and accountability in public institutions. “In order to support all those who contribute to the fight against corruption at the global level, the State of Qatar has established the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani International Anti-Corruption Excellence Award. It should also be noted that the Speaker of the Shura Council of the State of Qatar was elected chair of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) for 2019-2021.
The diplomat also touched on the topic of environment that is important for the international community: “The State of Qatar is aware that environmental problems are among the greatest challenges that humanity will face in the future. In recognition of the efforts of Qatar in the field of environmental protection and awareness of related problems the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) has awarded the country the right to hold the International Horticultural Exhibition EXPO in 2023. The expo themed Green Desert, Better Environment will be held in Doha from 2 October 2023 to 28 March 2024. Its goal is to encourage, inspire and inform people about innovative solutions and the reduction of desertification.”
Direct parliamentary elections
The charge d'affaires noted that Qatar is approaching an important milestone in democracy building. Last November Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani proposed holding direct vote to the Shura Council in October 2021 in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Thus, ‘an important step will be taken towards strengthening the Shura traditions in the country and developing the legislative process with a wider citizen participation'. The diplomat noted that many countries and international organizations recognized the importance of this decision and its role in promoting democracy in the country.”
FIFA World Cup
Meshaal Al Attiyah stressed that the people and the government of the State of Qatar have done a great job in the past several years to prepare for the big sporting event – 2022 FIFA World Cup, which millions of people are eagerly waiting for. “This is a momentous event. We hope to see Belarusian athletes and football fans there,” the diplomat noted.
Coronavirus-related difficulties will be overcome
The head of the diplomatic mission also mentioned numerous difficulties in the past year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which the countries tackled through joint efforts. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new challenge for the entire humanity. The State of Qatar has provided medical aid to fight the infection to more than 78 countries on different continents. I am sure that thanks to the tireless efforts to eradicate the disease and protect our citizens the State of Qatar and the Republic of Belarus will succeed in the end,” Charge d'Affaires Meshaal Al Attiyah said.
In conclusion, the diplomat congratulated the Belarusians on the anniversary date of the establishment of diplomatic relations and assured them of the strong friendship of the State of Qatar with Belarus.