Ambassador Ahmet Demirok’s Interviews Regarding Turkey-qatar Relations And Failed Coup Attempt In Turkey
Ambassador Ahmet Demirok’s interviews regarding Turkey-Qatar relations and failed coup attempt in Turkey, have been published in "Al Sharq", "Al Raya", “Al Watan” and "Al Arab" newspapers today.
1. How do you see Qatari-Turkey relationship? What the steps that needs to activate this relations?
Turkish-Qatari relations were already activated and over the last decade gained a strong momentum. Based on their strong historical ties and cultural affinities, I can say that Turkey and Qatar enjoy the best relationship any two countries in the world can possibly have. On the political front, our relations are excellent. Our countries have been joining forces to consolidate their cooperation in every possible field under the wise leadership of H.E. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and H.H. Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. High level visits are further strengthening our common desire to work together.
Last year was the Qatari- Turkish cultural year and witnessed many events and joint activities in both countries. The cultural year was a great opportunity to enjoy the potential in cultural and social fields and to cement our relations at grassroots level. We opened Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Center in Doha last year and the first Turkish school has opened recently. We are also working on the development of trade exchange to reach the level of the big potential and aspirations of the two sides.
2. Are you satisfying for trade and economy relation between the two countries?
We believe the trade and economic relations are not representing the real potential that could be achieved between our two brotherly countries. We are inviting the Qatari Institutions and companies to invest more in the dynamic and growing economy of Turkey. There is also a great potential for Turkish companies to have production facilities in Qatar and exporting to the region from Qatar.
3. How much the trading losses from failed attempted-coup?
In terms of investment, the Qatari Investment in Turkey was not harmed by the failed coup attempt in Turkey. 3 days after the coup attempt on 18th
of July, 2016 it was announced that Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ) has agreed to purchase the remianing %25 of the shares of its Turkish subsidiary Alternatif Bank for $222,5 million. With this agreement the CBQ will take full control of Alternatif Bank. Very recently, on 20th of October 2016, Qatar National Bank who purchased Finansbank, the 5th
largest bank in Turkey, for 2,7 billion Euros, completed the rebranding of the bank to QNB-Finansbank.
4. To what extend that the visit of H.H Emir of Qatar to Turkey will boost the economic relation between two countries?
Negotiations between two countries are still going on for signing cooperation agreements in various fields that affect economic relations such as taxation, customs matters, economic zones, exhibitions, small and medium sized enterprises, health and pharmaceuticals and etc. We are hoping that these agreements will be signed during the visit of H.H Emir of Qatar to Turkey within the context of the second Supreme Strategic Committee meeting. These agreements will help two countries to overcome any existing barriers in front of stronger cooperation between their respective businesses.
5. How do evaluate Qatar standing with Turkey in last events?
We have witnessed such a great solidarity from Qatar. HH the Emir was the first leader to call President Erdoğan and expressed support to our government and Turkish people. Then, HH the Father Emir, HH the Emir, HE the Prime Minister, HE the Foreign Minister and many Qatari Minister visited Turkey and demonstrate Qatar’s support. I also received hundreds of messages and call from Qatari people. It has been proved once again that Qatar is a real friend and brother of Turkey. We will never forget this support coming in difficult times.
6. How do you deal with some rating agencies downgrade Turkey? Is it really a political rating not an economic, as they said?
Turkish economy grows over the average growth rate in European Union and OECD countries in the first two quarters of 2016. Sovereign debt stock of Turkey and its budgetary performance also fared much better than not only those of the EU and OECD countries but also other emerging market economies.
Taking into consideration these parameters we believe that the downgrading of Turkey’s credit rating does not coincide with the realities of the Turkish economy. According to Nomura Strategist Timothy Ash, Moody’s decision to downgrade Turkey’s rating was very subjective and there was not much deterioration in macroeconomic ratios of Turkish economy since it was upgraded to “investment grade” by credit rating agencies that would necessitate a review of the rating.
7. Will this downgrade will affect the flow of foreign direct investment in Turkey?
We believe this downgrade will have an effect on the portfolios of some sovereign wealth funds or pension funds. On the other hand, Bank of America, stated that Turkish equities would be cheaper because of downgrading of credit rating and this would create an opportunity to buy Turkish equities. In terms of FDIs, as there is no big change in the macroeconomic fundamentals of the economy and economy continuing to grow and at a rate much higher than its peers, there is no reason for the FDI flows into the country to decrease.
8. How much is the cost of attempted-coup failed on Turkish economy? And how Turkish economy recovery of this attempt?
It is not easy to calculate the cost of the failed coup attempt on the Turkish economy. This created a short-term shock on the economy but this was overcome within weeks and parameters such as exchange rates, interest rates, CDS premiums were back to or very close to their levels before the attempted coup within weeks.
9. Recently you inaugurate Turkish school and Turkish language courses at Yunus Emre Institute. To what extend this will boost culture relation between Qatar and Turkey?
We attribute great importance to improve our cultural and educational relations with our Qatari brothers, and we work a lot on these fields. In this regard, we have inaugurated Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Center last year and Turkish School this year in Doha. We are happy to see that our Qatari brothers and sisters are more and more interested in Turkish language and culture. We believe that with the Turkish lessons and cultural activities of our institutions, existing good cultural and educational relations between Turkey and Qatar will be developed further.
1. Over the past year, the bilateral relations have witnessed pivotal developments, especially after the failed coup, could your Excellency shed light on the most prominentdevelopments?
We have witnessed such a great solidarity from Qatar. HH the Emir was the first leader to call President Erdoğan and expressed support to our government and Turkish people. Then, HH the Father Emir, HH the Emir, HE the Prime Minister, HE the Foreign Minister and many Qatari Minister visited Turkey and demonstrate Qatar’s support.
In addition to these symbolically crucial support, Qatar also showed its support with concrete steps. For instance, shortly after the coup attempt,
Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ) purchased the remaining %25 of the shares of its Turkish subsidiary Alternatif Bank for $222,5 million. With this, CBQ took full control of Alternatif Bank. Also, Qatar Tourism Authority decided to open an office in Istanbul. These two decisions were very important in those times when people were hesitant to invest or visit to Turkey. This support will never be forgotten.
2.What are the planned mutual visits or official meetingsin the near future?
As you know, recently HH the Emir has paid a working visit to Istanbul and met President Erdoğan on 23 October 2016. In the near future, Our Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu will visit Qatar on 1 November, then some Ministers from both sides have already scheduled to pay reciprocal visits. Also, we are expecting HH the Emir along with many Ministers to visit Turkey before the end of this year on the occasion 2nd meeting of Turkish-Qatar Supreme Strategic Committee.
3. How does Turkey seeQatar as a partner and its roleespeciallyin mediations to achieve peaceful solutions?
We see Qatar as one of the world’s most active mediators in regional and intra-national conflicts across the Middle East and Africa. Mediation is a benchmark of Qatari Foreign Policy and Qatar proved its capabilities in Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen and Palestinian disputes.
Qatar plays a vital and important role, and has its methods in communicating with all groups. We appreciate the role of the Qatari mediation in achieving peaceful solutions to serious conflicts.
4. Close views on issues of Syria and combating terrorism, but so far no solutions! Why?
Turkey and Qatar have stood up for the legitimate demands of the Syrian people since the beginning of the conflict. Both countries have been extending their support to the opposition, be it political or otherwise. We appreciate Qatar’s efforts in preserving the cohesion and integrity of the opposition. The current regional dynamics, threats of terrorism, and other simmering regional challenges, all dictate working in closer cooperation. Turkey and Qatar are members of the international coalition on counter-terrorism, and we have been combatting against DAESH from the very beginning.
We seek for a solution for Syria that would serve the interests of its people, and closely work for stability within democracy in Syria. Therefore, international community should unify and stop the ongoing carnage, and put an end to this horrific conflict immediately.
5.How is Qatar investment in Turkey after the failed coup?Any harm?
The Qatari Investment in Turkey was not harmed by the failed coup attempt in Turkey. As I told you, three days after the coup attempt on 18th of July, 2016 Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ) purchased %25 of the shares of its Turkish subsidiary Alternatif Bank. Furthermore, Very recently, on 20th of October 2016, Qatar National Bank who purchased Finansbank, the 5th largest bank in Turkey, for 2,7 billion Euros, completed the rebranding of the bank to QNB-Finansbank.
6.How many Turkishcompanies working in Qatar, in which projects, and how much are the Turkish investment in Qatar so far?
There are around 45 companies operating in Qatar, most of which are construction companies. Turkish contractors are a part of the joint ventures that are building the golden line and red lines of the Doha metro. A Turkish contractor has signed a deal worth 7.6 billion Qatari riyals (2.1 billion US dollars) with Qatar’s government to build a new expressway between Doha and Al Khor. In addition, a Turkish/Spanish joint venture was awarded the contract for "Al-Bustan Road North Section Design & Build" project by the Public Works Authority of Qatar.
7. How much is the trade volume and the expectations for it in the future?
The trade between our two countries have been increasing in the last couple of years and bilateral trade is around 1,3 billion USD in 2015. In the first half of 2016 trade volume between the two countries was 461 million USD compared to 736 million USD during the same period in 2015. This decline in value is due to the decreasing price of oil and gas.
8.Are there any current negotiationswith Qatar Investment Authority to enhancemutual investment or trade?
Negotiations between QIA and its affiliates are underway on a regular basis by the competent Turkish authorities in the fields of agriculture, real estate, energy etc.
9.What are the potentials for cooperation in energy sector especially LNG?
A MoU was signed between Petroleum Pipeline Company (BOTAS) of Turkey and Qatar Petroleum regarding sale of LNG during the first meeting of the Supreme Strategic Committee between Qatar and Turkey in 2015. This could lead the way for increased cooperation in the field of energy.
10.In which ways has Turkey supported Qatar in diversifying its economy, in fields of health, IT, sports, …etc?
Turkey and Turkish businesses have a keen interest in supporting Qatar in diversifying its economy. A Turkish hospital is soon to be opened in Doha, as a partnership between a Qatari and a Turkish company. Other medical companies are in talks with Qatari Institutions in cooperation in the field of sports medicine and health.