On the occasion of the French National Day, observed Thursday, the French ambassador to Qatar has underlined the strong and deep-rooted relations between both countries, and efforts to continuously expand co-operation in various fields.
“The relationship excellent, but we will work to do even better. I am convinced that this relationship must be exceptional, and that is precisely what our efforts are aimed at,” ambassador Jean-Baptiste Faivre said at a recent media interaction.
With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 scheduled to take place from November 21 to December 18, the envoy stressed that France will stand by Qatar to contribute to the success of hosting this prestigious football tournament.
Citing France’s expertise in providing utmost security in major events such as the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, he said the French police, gendarmerie, and the army will help in ensuring a safe and secured World Cup 2022.
As such, Faivre said that France has a lot to learn from Qatar’s experience in the upcoming competition to ensure the success of its hosting of major sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and the Olympic games in 2024.
In the political sphere, he said the relationship between the two countries remains very close and developing in a spirit of mutual trust.
“A strong impetus has been given by our heads of state. Since my arrival, they have met three times, each time for in-depth talks, in Baghdad in August, in Doha in December, and in May in Paris,” the envoy said, adding that the former minister for Europe and foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has visited Qatar three times in six months between September 2021 and March 2022.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna spoke with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani on June 27 over the phone, and they met in Paris recently on the occasion of the Choose France Summit, according to Faivre.
The envoy said French Minister of Home Affairs Gérald Darmanin visited Qatar in December last year and in May this year for the inauguration of the Milipol Qatar, alongside Qatar’s Prime Minister and Interior Minister HE Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani.
A strategic dialogue was also held in March at the ministerial level, where a roadmap for the relations between the two countries has been designed and also outlines a co-operation that is being strengthened in all sectors, Faivre said.
He highlighted the two countries’ strong commitment to peace, sharing “the will to resolve regional issues through peaceful means and dialogue and not through confrontation.”
“One of my key priorities was to reengage with Qatar on these issues. And that’s what we did a lot. During this year, we have had many contacts on major international issues such as Libya, Syria, and Iran. The aggression of Ukraine by Russia has of course triggered a lot of exchanges with Qatar and the need to ensure respect for international law,” the envoy said, noting that they are working closely on the Chad issue to ensure the success of the Qatari mediation.
“We have done a lot of work together on Afghanistan. We have done an important joint humanitarian operation. I want to thank Qatar again for its important help.
“France is committed to the enforcement of international law everywhere, in Ukraine as in the Middle East. France is firmly committed to the two-state solution so that the Palestinians have a state. France has long been opposed to the continuation of the occupation and colonisation, which are not acceptable neither sustainable.
“These situations, which are contrary to international law, lead to tragedies as we have unfortunately seen with the death of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed on May 11 in Jenin. This shocking attack, as well as the police violence that occurred during the funeral, were condemned by France,” he said.
The envoy cited France’s long tradition of military co-operation with Qatar and remains committed to supporting the country’s defence and fostering regional security.
The French army’s chief of staff met his counterpart, Lieutenant General Salem bin Hamad al-Nabit during a recent visit, despite a very busy agenda with the Sahel and Ukraine.
“He had a very good exchange with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah. It was decided to develop operational co-operation, training, and exchange visits and jointly help Lebanon and the Lebanese army,” Faivre said.
According to the envoy, several Qatari military authorities also visited France in recent weeks, including Commander of the Amiri Land Forces HE Major General Saeed Hussain al-Khayarin and Commander of Qatar Amiri Air Force Major General (Pilot) Jassim Mohamed Ahmed al-Mannai.
Ambassador Faivre said France remains a partner of Qatar for its top-level military equipment, including in particular the Rafale fighter aircraft which provides Qatar with a unique defence capability in the Gulf.
The two countries, which have close co-operation in internal security, are working on current and developing threats such as cyber threats, and in the fight against terrorism or organised crime, among others.
Another key priority in the Qatar-France relations is culture and education, which also continues to expand as the two countries are working on new projects.
On education, Faivre said two new joint degrees were put in place: one between Paris I – Panthéon Sorbonne and Lusail University; and between Bretagne Sud University and Qatar University in cybersecurity.
“We are also establishing long-lasting partnerships with Qatar Museum. Teams of French experts are involved for projects such as the Orientalist Museum, by 2027, and the Art Mill Museum planned for 2028. We have a co-operation between Sports Museums (or 3-2-1 Museum) and the National Sports Museum in Nice. We should sign an agreement soon.
“The World Cup will be a great moment to showcase the variety of French culture and I hope that we will have French artists coming for the event,” he added.