*Negotiated solution to Gulf crisis good for all as it is a no-win situation
*’We don’t fear the boycott. We are a thousand times better off without them’
*Preparations underway for holding Advisory Council elections
*Directives issued to ensure judiciary’s independence, upgrade
Qatar has successfully met the challenges posed by the unjust blockade and is continuing its journey steadily toward the goals of all round development and self-sufficiency, His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said on Tuesday.
Delivering a speech on the opening of the Advisory Council’s 46th Ordinary Session, the Emir said the blockading countries have breached all norms of international relations and their actions have made it now evident that they did not want to reach a negotiated settlement.
Sheikh Tamim said in the face of grave provocations, Qatar has pursued a
policy of self-restraint out of “our keenness to maintain the fraternal relations among the Gulf peoples”. He said Qatar’s approach has gained the respect of the whole world.
The Emir said the siege nations have erred in their judgement and are now
themselves embroiled in the crisis.
For the charges levelled against Qatar, they have failed to produce any evidence, he said and added that Qatar has a well documented counterterrorism record. Foreign officials who visit them know that their campaign against Qatar has nothing to do with terrorism, he said.
The Emir reiterated his call for finding a solution to the Gulf crisis through the framework of dialogue based on mutual respect for sovereignty and joint commitments. “On the other hand, we are aware that the indicators we receive reveal that the siege countries are unwilling to reach a solution.”
He said the crisis brought out the best talents and spirit of challenge inherent in the Qatari people, and contributed to crystallising its national identity, and enhanced cohesion between the people and the leadership.
Among the avowed tasks before the government are a productive society, self-sufficiency in food and medicine and national security, and establishing balanced bilateral relations with other countries, he said.
The Emir called upon his countrymen to continue to work more vigorously under the new circumstances and reminded them that there were a number of countries “that are thriving with sea and air routes, without having land crossings”.
He expressed confidence that the Qatari society “knows how to lead a normal life, flourish and develop, whether the blockade is prolonged or not”.
Sheikh Tamim said: “We do not fear the boycott of these countries against us, we are a thousand times better off without them. But vigilance is required.” He said the dispute is a no-win situation for all the parties.
The Emir thanked the Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah for his mediation efforts and all the countries that supported “us in our stance during this crisis”.
Listing the many measures taken by the government to tide over the blockade, the Emir said despite the fall in oil and gas prices in 2015 and 2016, per capita income in Qatar, according to purchasing power is still among the highest in the world and the country’s growth rate has improved.
“The negative impacts of the blockade were temporary and our economy has managed to contain most of them very quickly, while adapting and developing itself in the course of the crisis management.”
He said Qatar’s exports of oil and gas have not been affected. On the contrary, the country’s credibility as a reliable exporter of energy has been boosted.
To achieve Qatar’s national vision, steps have been taken to support small and medium industries, the private sector, establishment of storage facilities, development of logistics areas and introducing a number of food security projects. The State has also given special attention to water security.
As a result of the strong economy, Qatar has been able to maintain financial and exchange rate stability and free remittances, he said.
Also Qatar has signed deals to connect the Hamad port with international ports in Turkey, China, Taiwan, Oman, Pakistan, Singapore, Kuwait and Australia.
Blockading countries are acting against Qatar hosting of the World Cup in 2022.
For strengthening the national economy, Qatar has initiated the necessary steps, the Emir said and highlighted the important topics of the strategy in his speech.
“The government is currently preparing for the Advisory Council elections, including drafting legislative measures necessary to ensure that these elections are conducted perfectly well,” the Emir said, adding the measures will be submitted to the Council during the next year.
On developing the judicial system, the Emir said directives have been issued to ensure the independence of the judiciary, avoid prolonged litigation and to equip the courts and the prosecution with the necessary infrastructure, in addition to opening new branches in various locations in the country.
The Emir voiced deep concern over the deterioration of the political situation at the regional level, and called for a de-escalation to spare the peoples of the region the perils of tension and emergence of axes. He said differences should be resolved through dialogue. “In the case of the Gulf and the region this is not only an option, but an urgent necessity. Relevant mechanisms must be found to address this.”
He congratulated the “Palestinian brethren” on the unity which has been realised and called for the establishment of a Palestinian State on the borders of 5 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Emir said Qatar supported the territorial integrity of Iraq. On the Syrian issue, he said Qatar hopes that the international efforts will succeed in finding a just solution to “this tragedy” and reaffirmed support for the unity of the Syrian territory. Regarding Libya, Qatar will continue to support the international mediation efforts , he said.
Concerning Yemen, the Emir said Qatar supports the efforts of the United Nations to end the crisis and called upon all parties to a genuine national reconciliation to put an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people.
The Emir also urged the Government of Myanmar to put an end to the sufferings of the Rohingya and offered Qatar’s full support to achieve this goal.
Sheikh Tamim reiterated his appreciation to the Qatari people and residents of the country for standing up with dignity and pride against the blockade.
Earlier, while thanking former members of the council for their services, the Emir welcomed the new members, wishing them every success in serving their country