The talks between Foreign Minister Steinmeier and his Qatari counterpart Khalid Al Attiyah in Berlin on Friday (28 March) focused on the resolution of international conflicts, for example in the Middle East and Syria. It was also agreed that bilateral relations between Germany and Qatar should be given a broader basis.
On welcoming his counterpart Al Attiyah to Berlin, Foreign Minister Steinmeier stressed that Qatar was an important player in the Gulf “of significance and with influence in the entire Arab-Muslim world and beyond.” This was the first meeting between the two Ministers at the Federal Foreign Office. They last met at the Munich Security Conference in early February 2014.
During extensive talks in private, the two Ministers discussed a number of bilateral and international issues.
Support for the two-state solution in the Middle East
Germany and Qatar reaffirmed once more their support for the intensive efforts for peace undertaken by US Secretary of State John Kerry in the Middle East. Foreign Minister Al Attiyah said it was hoped there would be a “just and fair solution on of the basis of the two-state solution.” Foreign Minister Steinmeier reiterated “that this initiative by Kerry deserved every success.”
Continued dramatic situation in Syria
The situation in Syria remains extremely critical. The efforts to find a peace settlement are being continued in Germany and Qatar and “broader and wider approaches” were being sought. Steinmeier said that little progress had been made to date. “Our hopes that the agreement on chemical weapons destruction would perhaps pave the way for further joint and successful efforts to de-escalate the situation have, unfortunately, not been fulfilled. On the contrary”, stated Steinmeier. He went on to say that too many people were still being killed – in some cases due to military activities, in others because “they are quite simply dying of starvation”.
Concern about developments in Egypt
“We hope that Egypt will find a way towards democracy and the rule of law”, said Foreign Minister Steinmeier. He added that the recent conviction of hundreds of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood was “already weighing heavily on what may lie ahead”. What is more, Germany believed it would not be good in the long term if “a large proportion of the population remains excluded from any participation or representation in political life”.
Broader basis for bilateral relations
The two Foreign Ministers stated that German-Qatari relations were “diverse and vibrant” but that they were dominated by economic interests at present. Steinmeier said there was agreement that “we should extend the basis of these relations in the coming years.” A joint German-Qatari cultural year is planned for 2017. “That will provide a good opportunity to show people in both our countries that the economy is important but that it is not the only key factor in our bilateral relations”, stressed Steinmeier.
Investigation into the situation of foreign workers in Qatar
Steinmeier confirmed that he and his opposite number had also discussed the debate surrounding the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 as well as the treatment of foreign workers. Foreign Minister Al Attiyah emphasised that an international corporation had been commissioned to investigate the situation. He said that “positive and humane treatment” was anchored in Qatar’s constitution. He added that the report would be submitted in the near future.