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MIDEAST >Qatar 'grateful' for food supplies from Turkey

Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA

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Turkey and Qatar have established an economic commission to provide necessary food and other needs to the latter, amid the ongoing row with Gulf countries, Qatar’s envoy to Turkey has said, expressing his country’s appreciation for “the Turkish government’s enormous support in these difficult days.” 

“Turkey has opened its market to us. We are grateful for this,” Salem bin Mubarak al-Shafi told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on June 15.

A number of Arab and Gulf countries under the leadership of Saudi Arabia imposed tough sanctions on Qatar last week amid accusations that the tiny Gulf country has been supporting terrorist organizations. 

Saudi Arabia’s decision to close the land border with Qatar has caused shortages of food and some dairy products. 

Turkey has become one of few countries rushing to the help of Qatar, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressing that Ankara would not abandon its regional ally. 

“The stance that President Erdoğan has taken is a very honorable one. In this way, we have learned who our real friend is,” al-Shafi said. 

“This kind of support could only be lent by a country with a vast civilization, culture and history. It’s a very big honor for us to see Turkey standing with us,” he added. 


Joint commission to be established

Al-Shafi stated that the economy ministries of the two countries have set up an economic commission for delivering Qatar’s immediate needs through business leaders from the two parties. 

“Turkey has become very helpful to us to this end. Some big companies of Qatar have come here and purchased mainly dairy products, because we had been procuring these from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia decided to impose a siege on us and it is shameful. Qatar is not a small country and it can get its needs from other markets. But they have broken the social bonds between our countries through this siege,” he said. 

Al-Shafi also noted that the Turkish authorities had told them that the “entire Turkish market” was open to Qatari companies, expressing gratitude for this stance and underlining that Qatar is a “sovereign country that acts within the boundaries of the law.”


‘We are stunned by the move’

The ambassador emphasized that Doha was very surprised by the move from neighboring countries against it, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, claiming that the accusations were “baseless.” 

“We never expected such an act against us, especially during Ramadan,” al-Shafi said.

Recalling that Saudi King Salman visited Qatar just two months ago and had never mentioned these accusations, the ambassador also noted that they have not yet heard the conditions for a return to normalcy in ties from Saudi-led countries. 

“They are always saying they want to resolve this within the Gulf Cooperation Council, but with no action,” he said. 


Turkish base changed equations

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources have suggested that Turkey’s move to ratify an agreement to implement a military cooperation deal with Qatar has “changed the equation in the Gulf.”  

The message given to regional countries is that Turkey will “not leave Qatar alone,” sources said, claiming that the base in the country would “serve the entire region’s security and stability.”

June/16/2017

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