Interview With Ambassador Ahmet Demirok By Al Raya Reporter Samih Kayed

Doha Büyükelçiliği 23.02.2014

HE the Turkish Ambassador to Doha Ahmet Demirok stressed on the strong relations between Qatar and Turkey in various fields, remarking that the Qatari-Turkish Joint Committee will meet this week in Ankara at the ministerial level for two days to discuss the promotion of all aspects of cooperation and relations between the two friendly countries.

He said in an exclusive interview for Al Raya: Our views towards many regional and international political issues are identical, as Qatar and Turkey are working to frame the spaces of peace and security regionally and internationally.

- At the beginning, what is the importance that the Turkish side sees from HH Emir visit to Turkey?

- In fact, the visit of His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir was interested and appreciated, it was also constructive and fruitful. HH works within a high political perspective; it is also confirmed on the nature of privacy in the Turkish-Qatari cooperation relations because there is a convergence of views between the two leaderships and common views about the various regional situations; besides this visit set foundations and new rules to strengthen the bilateral relations.

- In light of this visit, do you expect a soon visit of the Turkish President to Doha?

- In fact, no date has been set yet, but I hope the vision on such a visit to be determined before next August. I'd like to clarify that the visits between the two countries have continued at significant levels as there is coordination and exchange of views and consultations among us on various issues. There are currently five Turkish delegations visiting Doha, representing different sectors in the fields of economy, culture and education, especially that Turkey has commercial and great investment potentials in various fields. The size of the Turkish trade balance with Qatar is 1.2 billion dollars and there is an agreement to set up a Qatari - Turkish power plant project in southern Turkey. In addition to investment, economic agreements flourish between us since Turkey is considered as a major investment market. Also a Turkish cultural exhibition will be held in Doha next April.

- Is Qatari – Turkish cooperation confined only on the economic and investment?

- Of course there are many aspects for Qatari - Turkish cooperation including the cultural, parliamentary, political, economic and others. Qatar is an important country for us, as Turkey is an important country for Qatar. There is an ongoing dialogue between us, especially in the political process in order to contribute to regional security and stability. In this context, His Excellency, Foreign Minister Dr. Khalid Al-Attiyah visited Turkey six times since he took over the Foreign Affairs portfolio within four months, which reflects the fact that there is a common policy relation between the two countries on many political issues on the regional and international levels.

- What's your role as an ambassador for your country in Qatar in this collaborative track between the two countries?

- In fact, since I assumed this post, I began from the first moment promoting the basis of these relationships with various national institutions, both private and public, which has resulted in the intensification of mutual visits of the official and private delegations between the two countries in multiple fields. The Qatari - Turkish Economic Joint Committee is scheduled to meet in Ankara this week, to discuss all aspects of relationship and developments to enhance this cooperation. I'm also working on strengthening the legal basis of our relations in economic, cultural and other fields in light of our special and distinguished relations.

- Is there a common vision towards changes and developments the Arab world is witnessing today?

- Of course, our situations are compatible, for example, towards the Syrian, Egyptian, Tunisian and Palestinian crisis; we seek together to alleviate the suffering of all the peoples of the Arab and Islamic region. There is also a similarity in the vision about the human and technological investment between the two brotherly countries.

- It is noticed that there is a Turkish move through the Turkish Prime Minister's visits to Iran, Iraq and elsewhere, what messages carried by those visits?

- We, in Turkey, are working to open new pages of constructive relations with everyone in the region, and as a Muslim country we believe in freedom and democracy. We are working to alleviate the suffering of the peoples of these countries and promote the policy of good neighborliness through constructive and purposeful dialogue, for the higher interests of our countries and peoples; we are continuing on this path.

- What obstacles did you find in this move that you are talking about?

- In fact, the Syrian crisis hinders these moves. We seek to bring peace to the Middle East by dialogue. Before the Syrian crisis we were moving fast toward solving many problems and crises, but the Syrian crisis disrupted the path of this rapid movement. Bashar Al Assad's positions, who committed most terrible massacres against his people, blocked the progress toward this goal in the region. We hope to solve the Syrian crisis so that we can achieve the desired goals and work to achieve the people’s stability in the region. The Syrian people became refugees because of the regime's policy, there are 700,000 Syrian refugees only in Turkey, in addition to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries and in Europe which became an issue of concern and disruptive to work. When the Syrian crisis is finished, we will continue immediately the policy to work for regional reform and building peace and security.

- It is well known that Iran is with the Syrian regime and you are on the opposite track, so what are the dimensions of the Turkish-Iranian rapprochement?

- Our relations with Iran are good and we are keen on these relations, especially that Iran is an important part of the region and we look forward to see Iran playing an active role to achieve peace and security in the region. Also, there is a general vision that Iran has regional and international role. We hope Iran will play such a role to achieve peace and security and to end the Syrian crisis. The second point which is important to us as well in the convergence in relations with Iran, it forms for us an important outlet for the power and gas supply hence we are interested in promoting the relationship. In this regard related to the relations strengthening between the two countries, Iran's president Rohani will visit Turkey soon.

- What about the relations with the government of southern Iraq?

- We concern, as I mentioned previously, to achieve security and peace for the peoples of the region and to fight against terrorism and eliminate it, we seek to resolve all the outstanding problems to establish the security and peace rules and the embodiment of the human rights. Turkey's Kurds are part of the Turkish society; they have their rights and their duties like other Turks.

- It is rumored recently about the presence of attempts of Israeli - Turkish rapprochement, especially in the field of water... What is the validity of that?

- First, there are no projects concerning water and we are negotiating with the Israeli side on the issue of Marmara martyrs, and the issue of the restoration of relations is conditioned with several points, including an apology for the attack on Marmara which has already been done, in addition to the compensation to the families of the victims of the Israeli aggression. The most important condition is lifting the siege on Gaza and halting the settlement process. We want to achieve peace in the region and ending the state of hostility, tension and the manifestations of terrorism.

- But Israel is working on accelerated steps to Judaization of Jerusalem and the Aqsa?

- Here I would like to say that Turkey will not withdraw its support from the Palestinian cause. It is an Arab and Muslim fundamental issue and Turkey raised its voice always regarding Jerusalem and the Palestinian issue in general, even in tines the voices of others decreased. We are trying to get Palestinian people out from their ordeal as a result of the occupation and we are seeking in all regional and international means to solve the conflict. Jerusalem is the land of peace and from our point of view it cannot be the capital of Israel.

- What about the reality of the tension in the relations between Turkey and Egypt?

- We have good relations with Egypt historically before and after Morsi, and we are with all democratic tracks in the region. But the issue that Dr. Morsi is an elected and legitimate president cannot be ignored, also the controversial issue that he was not given enough time to work on solving the country's problems that he inherited with the beginning of his rule. No one is without mistakes, probably he made mistakes but he did not have enough time to correct the democratic process in his country. There is no democratic institution in Egypt now. We hope to have the security in Egypt for the sake of the Egyptian people, what is happening in Egypt is not a stability point, nor a democratic process and I would like to emphasize here that at the time when Egypt will regain its democratic path and feel politically stable, relations will be back as they were before.

- There is a state of tension in the Turkish street on the background of corruption cases... What's your comment on this matter?

- We have a wise and fair leadership working for the future of Turkey, working for the Turkish people and enhancing their future capabilitis. Therefore Turkey does not spare any effort in the fight against terrorism, corruption, and those working under Western/U.S. agendas beyond the national framework of the country. Under the current leadership, Turkey became a powerful force that cannot be ignored, so we have become a target for other groups working under foreign non-national agendas. The events happened in Turkey are images to this reality, which aim to disturb the security situation in the country. But here I emphasize that all this will not discourage the Turkish leadership who work for Turkey and its people and it will continue promoting the democratic life, freedom and human rights.

- There are reports indicating that Erdoğan will run for the next presidential election, what is the validity of that?

- There is still no statement on that; it is just written by media.

- What is the situation related to Turkey's accession to the European Union, in light of opposition from some countries for this?

- Sooner or later Turkey will become a member of the European Union due to its strategic location and its effective role regionally and internationally. Turkey has a high democratic and reformist level and its economic and political situation is much better than some European countries, therefore they, in the European Union, need us as we have huge potentials in various fields of economy, politics, human rights and reforms and all the elements of a modern, civilized state."


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