The first formal high-level meeting between Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European External Action Service (EEAS) was held in Brussels under the joint chairmanship of Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, H E Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi, and Secretary-General of EEAS, Helga Schmid.
The meeting launched the implementation of the cooperation arrangements signed on March 7, 2018 during the official visit of Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Brussels. The cooperation arrangement aims to establish a framework for exchanging views on issues of common interest and exploring different areas of cooperation between the two sides.
The high-level political consultations focused on the bilateral relations between the State of Qatar and the European Union and recent developments in the Gulf region, including the Gulf crisis, which entered its third year, a joint press statement said.
The two sides underlined the need to defuse tensions and avoid escalation, which will have a significant impact in the region and beyond. The discussions also paid special attention to Yemen, the Middle East peace process, the situation in the Horn of Africa, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and Libya.
The two sides also reiterated their commitment to continue their work and cooperation to promote peace and sustainable solutions to existing conflicts.
They further lauded the outcome of the first meeting of the Working Group on Human Rights held in Doha in December; and confirmed their intention to hold the second edition of the meeting in Brussels before the end of the year.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the EEAS welcomed the possibility of closer integration in the areas of security and counterterrorism, conflict prevention and mediation, development cooperation and humanitarian assistance in addition to economic and social issues.
The meeting also discussed cooperation in a number of areas, such as information exchange, combating terrorism and its funding and cybersecurity.
The two sides intend to strengthen their security partnership and combat terrorism to eliminate it and violent extremism. They also agreed on the importance of increased cooperation within existing multilateral forums such as the International Counter-Terrorism Forum and the Global Fund to Support the Participation and Sustainability of Communities.
In this regard, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, H E Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi, and the Secretary-General of EEAS, Helga Schmid, welcomed Qatar’s commitment to provide €66.5m over five years to support the United Nations Office for Counter-Terrorism. The Qatari side presented the latest developments in the preparation of security plans for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.
The two sides also exchanged information on their respective work in the areas of development cooperation and humanitarian assistance, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, in areas such as youth, health and refugees.
H E Al Muraikhi and Schmid explained their policies, methods and tools in these areas and discussed specific areas of potential cooperation between them.
Cooperation in economic and social issues was also discussed with a focus on facilitating trade, investment, education, academic mobility and space, including satellite navigation.
The two sides agreed to continue their discussions, and to hold the second meeting of senior officials in 2020 in Qatar. For her part, Secretary-General of the EEAS, Helga Schmid, expressed her pleasure at opening the first meeting of senior officials between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European External Action Service.