9 July 2018
His Highness the Amir, President of France Hold Joint Press Conference
A joint press conference for HH the Amir and HE President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, following their meeting at the Elysee Palace.
Intervention of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar Hello, the
Ambassador has asked me to speak in French. If you don’t understand me, it’s the embassy’s fault, not mine. At the outset, Mr. President, it is a pleasure to see you here today in Paris. Your friendship is very important to me. The friendship between the State of Qatar and France is very important. As you please, we talked about many topics of interest to the region: Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And I want to thank the President for the positions he took a year ago, when the Gulf crisis erupted. He stood by the State of Qatar. The President has always stressed that the only solution is dialogue between all countries.
Allow me, Mr. President, we have talked about a lot of things. We have a problem with time, as there are only thirty minutes left before the game, and there are questions. So I simply want to say that the relations between the two countries are very strong. We are very proud of these relationships. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
intervention We once again receive His Highness the Emir of the State of Qatar, while he is in Paris, as part of an important official visit. Yesterday, Your Highness, you visited the Mont de Marsan base, where the pilots of Qatar’s Rafale squadron are training, and this visit embodies the strength of relations between our two countries.
For France, the State of Qatar is a friend and a trustworthy partner, with which we are working resolutely against terrorism and for peace and stability, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East.
Qatar is also an ambitious player who wants to contribute to shaping the world of tomorrow. A more connected, more open, more secure world, and in this regard I can be sure that our two countries are close to each other.
During our meeting and during the working lunch that we have just gathered, we first talked about countering terrorism and its financing and countering extremism. We continue here the exchange of views that we began last year, when I visited Doha in December. On this occasion, France and the State of Qatar signed a declaration of intent on combating terrorism and its financing and combating extremism, a declaration that constitutes a roadmap for our joint activities. We have begun to work in accordance with this road map.
I attach great importance, you know that, to adhering to this road map. In this context, the State of Qatar was also present at the Conference on Combating the Financing of Terrorism, which was organized in Paris on April 26, in order to strengthen the monitoring of financial networks, banking and non-banking, and individual donations or those made under the cover of charitable activity.
This is how France is informed of the efforts of the State of Qatar in this area, which are concrete, as you pledged last December, we have been able and our devices have been able to work together, and the first concrete elements have been highlighted. I hope we continue on this path. It is a path that requires the mobilization of all our agencies and all our competencies in order to dry up the various sources of financing from which terrorist groups can benefit.
In order to obtain fateful results in these matters, we benefit from a solid framework, as the strategic dialogue between the State of Qatar and France will be carried out under the supervision of our Foreign Ministers, with the aim of facilitating exchange and decision-making on the most sensitive topics, preventing any leniency and any deceptive appearance, and exchanging all sensitive information continuously and in real time.
Our will is to strive together for peace and security. At the regional level, security requires unity. Therefore, I reaffirmed France’s support for the mediation of the Emir of the State of Kuwait in the context of the crisis between the State of Qatar and its sister Gulf States. Qataris suffer daily from the measures that have been taken, and there are families whose members have been separated due to the current crisis. We have been able to talk about this crisis, which should be resolved through dialogue.
Regional security is linked to this, in a context characterized by multiple tensions, and it also affects the security of many other regions to which these tensions are sometimes exported.
As we did last year, and as I have not ceased to do in recent months, France will continue to talk to all parties and call for dialogue, moderation and reconciliation.
During our lunch, we were also able to talk about many regional topics: Iran, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, the peace process in Palestine and also Libya. For this last file, which, as you know, is a priority for us, I want our two countries to work together to prepare for what will be very important in the future: building a strong constitutional foundation, organizing elections in Libya before the end of the year, and unifying military and civilian institutions. Here, too, we decided to strengthen our cooperation.
Beyond the security aspects, relations between France and the State of Qatar depend on our common will to deepen our bilateral relationship, whether economically, culturally or sporting.
In this regard, His Highness the Emir of the State of Qatar expressed to me his country’s desire to make new investments in France in sectors that create added values, and these goals are in line with our desire to value French innovation and knowledge in all fields. We also have projects in the agri-food sector, which we are very committed to.
In sports and higher education, we want to develop existing joint programs and create new ones. France and Qatar in particular have ambitions to develop exemplary cooperation in the sports sector, with the prospect of organizing major events such as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. I would like to emphasize this theme, because sport contributes to the development of the land, to technological innovation, to the education of our youth and to the integration of all our citizens. You have invested, in many ways, heavily in sport, both amateur and professional, and I thank you for that, even if we do not share the same enthusiasm about the French league matches, but I close this friendly arc (referring to Macron’s support for Marseille and not Paris Saint-Germain), I know that in a few minutes your highness will support the French team in World Cup, but your commitment to French sport is for us very precious, and it is an opportunity for France. And we have to know how to express it. We are working on an ambitious roadmap to frame our work in the coming years. The Institut nationale du sport, de l’expertise et de la performance INSEP and its Qatari partner, Aspire Academy, are at the forefront of doing this.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude by saying that our two countries together adhere to the values of the Francophonie. Your Highness, like many of your compatriots, you are fluent in French par excellence. I notice this every time, and I am keen to thank you for that. I always like to notice this. Francophonie is not only words but also values that we share. I hope that the vision you hold for your country is a full reflection of these values and I thank you for this commitment.
That is what I would have liked, ladies and gentlemen, Your Highness, to say after this meeting and working lunch, with my thanks once again to Sheikh Tamim, Emir of the State of Qatar, for being in Paris on this day.
Questions from a journalist from Marseille: Q:
I have a question for His Highness to ask in French. You invest a large part of your investments here in France, and you give great importance to the economic aspect between France and Qatar, but unfortunately the public opinion towards Qatar is sometimes negative. There is a large part of the population that continues to link the State of Qatar with the financing of terrorism and the status of women, how can you continue to do business in France with this negative image, and what do you intend to do in order to improve the image of the State of Qatar today in France.
There is a second small question, you can expect, about the Russian S400 missiles, is there anything new? Are the rumors circulating on the Internet during your meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin based?
As for you, Mr. President, will you intervene personally or will you make France intervene in the current quarrel in the Gulf region, will France’s negotiating capabilities, and all the role that France plays in order to establish peace in the world, be used to try to find a solution to this crisis situation in this region of the world? Thank you very much.
HH The Amir:
As for the first question, there are a lot of things, you know, that are being discussed here in France against the State of Qatar. But everyone knows that many of the things being said against Qatar are not true. So I ask you, and I ask everyone, to take the time to see what Qatar is doing for world peace. And what we are doing for the countries of our region. Fortunately, the French know very well what Qatar is doing in France and are well aware of the French-Qatari friendship.
On the second question, I will not go into details, but I want to say that no agreement was reached. It’s true that we’ve talked about it, but so far there’s nothing.
The French president’s answer:
I want to say that you do not speak the language of another country innocently. When a ruler decides to learn French, and then masters it as the Emir of Qatar does, it shows that there is something with this country.
I listen to criticism, criticism should always be listened to and I think His Highness has quite clear foresight on this subject. But voices should also be heard. When there is someone who speaks French, encourages it, and their children attend French schools… It means that something honest is happening with the country.
Secondly, on subjects that are hotly controversial, work has been done in recent months, because we have spoken very directly, in the area of counter-terrorism, in terms of clarifying things about financing, we have touched on these things. There is no longer anything to be unheard of between France and Qatar. We talked about everything, and we put it on the table. Work has been done, in concrete and real steps, because we have said things, shared our descriptions of the situation, signed a road map, which is now in the process of being implemented, and we are improving it every day. It seems to me important to focus on these two points in the right context that you have recalled.
In terms of the situation in the region, we will take an initiative if asked at some point, if it works. But today I consider that the role of France is to continue the dialogue that we have with all parties, which we have been doing from the beginning, not to isolate any party and not to export any tension, so that at some point we can help restore stability. This is France’s role today, and this is what we have been doing for more than a year and we will continue to do so. I will do everything in my power to facilitate a return to dialogue and a return to normalcy.
Two questions from the Al Jazeera journalist: Q:
Ayyash Draghi from Al Jazeera. A question for President Emmanuel Macron, can you tell us more about military cooperation between the two countries, this is the first question. Second, we read here in Paris that Saudi Arabia asked Paris to intervene with Russia in order for Moscow to stop the sale of S-400 missiles to Qatar. What is your formal or unofficial position on this?
The French president’s answer:
We have strategic relations based on a common vision and goals, as I said before. These relations have been exemplified at the military level through the purchase of military equipment, elements of confidence, especially the purchase of Rafale aircraft, which justified the visit of the Emir of the State of Qatar to Mont de Marsan yesterday. We see very well that this cooperation is not only industrial cooperation, but also cooperation between the two governments, which means our armies with rehabilitation programs, while establishing real strategic relations. We continue these relationships in other areas, and we will continue them in the months and years to come. But for me, the crux of this is that these relationships are part of a shared vision of the big stakes and the sharing of these big bets. This is also what the road map we have drawn up means.
In this context, highly complex graphic designs never work. I listened to what you said, and I read it like you. But there are more direct ways to get messages across to Moscow, as I think Saudi Arabia is also in talks with Moscow. So everyone knows how to speak directly, and France does not enter into such relations. We talk to each of our partners about our joint ventures, and we have many of them, beyond the Rafale, to other areas that are making progress and demonstrating the vitality of the strategic relationship. We do not involve ourselves in dialogues between three or four parties. We have enough things to do.