Qatar is not advocating ‘forgive and forget’ for Russia, foreign minister says after controversial comments from colleagues


Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani speaks at a joint press conference with his French counterpart in Doha on March 28, 2022.

Mustafa Abumunes | Afp | Getty Images

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani appeared on Tuesday to correct a controversial statement by his fellow minister about the Russian war in Ukraine.

Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister and head of the state gas company, said he was confident Russian gas would eventually flow back to Europe as mainland Moscow would “forgive and forget” for its invasion of Ukraine .

“We’re all blessed to be able to forget and forgive. And I think things get fixed with time…they learn from that situation and probably have a lot more diversity.” [of energy intake]al-Kaabi said at an energy forum in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

The comment sparked anger and came just as a Russian missile strike killed at least 40 civilians in a residential area of ​​Ukraine’s Dnipro.

Asked by CNBC’s Hadley Gamble if al-Kaabi’s comment was Qatar’s official position, Al Thani said:

“Well, it’s not actually. Firstly, politically, when we talk about the situation and the war, Qatar has a very clear political position on this: we don’t accept the invasion of another country. We don’t accept threats of violence or use of force, we do not accept civilians getting hurt. And we have shown this in our voices within the United Nations.”

He added: “Our message to the Russians, to the Ukrainians has always been … these kinds of disagreements and disagreements should not be resolved on a battlefield, they should be resolved through dialogue.”

Rescue workers search for people trapped under the rubble of a high-rise residential building that was hit by a rocket on January 14, 2023 in Dnipro, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Europe has long been Russia’s largest customer for most energy commodities, especially for the supply of natural gas. EU countries have slashed their imports of Russian energy supplies and imposed sanctions in response to Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Reduced imports have increased energy costs for Europe, leading leaders and oil and gas managers to look for new energy sources and alternative supplies.

Al Thani insisted that it is for Europe to decide its energy future.

“Actually, it’s the European decision,” he said. “Ultimately, from our perspective and our policies, as a State of Qatar, we never politicize the energy. We see that food, medicine, energy, those are items that need to be protected, because they are for the people.” , they are not for the government or for political reasons.”

He added that Europe’s woes are not only a result of the war, but that the conflict has accelerated the continent’s energy challenges.

“It’s been that way for a long time, the policy…wasn’t realistic,” the minister said, pointing to an overzealous energy transition that underestimated the importance of fossil fuels while relying too heavily on renewables.

Qatar has emerged as an important alternative source of natural gas for Europe. At the end of November, QatarEnergy and ConocoPhillips signed agreements to export 2 million tons of liquefied natural gas annually to Germany for at least 15 years, starting in 2026.

Qatar maintains good relations with Russia. The $300 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, owns about 19% of Russian oil giant Rosneft and plans to continue investing in the country.

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