(MENAFN- The Peninsula) By Irfan Bukhari / The Peninsula
Outgoing Ambassador of Belgium to Qatar, Christophe Payot (pictured), has said that Belgium and the European Union are playing their due role for the early resolution of Gulf crisis by stressing on dialogue and fully supporting Kuwaiti mediation.
'We hope this crisis will be resolved soon through dialogue as it was solved in 2014. Belgium fully supports Kuwaiti mediation and we appreciate efforts of the Emir of Kuwait in this regard, he said while talking to The Peninsula.
The outgoing ambassador said that MENA region was already facing a number of challenges which needed a collective response. 'Dialogue is the only way to go to resolve the crisis. Middle East and North Africa is already facing unrest and war in Syria, Libya, Yemen therefore deescalation and dialogue are needed to resolve the Gulf crisis so that we all can collectively address other challenges and defeat global issues of extremism and terrorism, he added. Payot has been posted as vice-ambassador to Washington and leaving Doha this week.
He said that Belgium was optimistic that the tension in the region would defuse soon through dialogue and we are in constant contact with all parties involved and fully supporting mediation role of Kuwait. 'They (Kuwait) know the region and their brothers well therefore they are in a position to get the dispute settled, he added. He said that if the crisis persisted for longer, it would impact economy of the whole region.
He said that the European Union was also playing its role for 'quick resolution of the standoff as depicted by its high official's visit to Kuwait last month. 'The region between the Gulf and Europe is passing through problems therefore we (Gulf and Europe) have to solve those issues with joint efforts, he said, adding that all parties would have to found solution of the crisis 'quite quickly.
Payot, who after serving three and a half year in Doha is set to leave for his next diplomatic assignment this week, said that he had spent a great time in Qatar full of discoveries. 'An important chapter of my life is closing now, he said.
Outgoing Belgian ambassador said that during his stay in office as an ambassador in Doha, bilateral relations made a remarkable progress starting with the economic and trade delegation visit to Qatar back in March 2015. 'The visit gave a boost to bilateral relations and there was remarkable progress in bilateral trade in 2015, 2016.
He said that Qatar's decision of granting permanent residency to some expats was a ‘welcome step. 'We are still waiting for details like the criteria of eligibility but it is a step forward, we welcome it, he added.
The ambassador said that 'Six Construct, a Belgian construction company, had built mega projects in Qatar including The Tornado Tower, Convention Center, Education City, expansion of Khalifa International Stadium, and was also constructing Al Wakrah Stadium. He said many other Belgian companies working in sustainability, water management, research and development sectors of Qatar.
He said that the bilateral cooperation and partnership in sports was tremendous. 'Belgian cycling legend brought cycling to Qatar back in 2002 and last year World Cycling Championship was held here in Doha. KAS Eupen, a Belgian football club, is owned by Aspire Zone Foundation through which Qatar is developing young players for its future team, he added.
When asked whether trade between Belgium and Qatar was affected by the current blockade, he said he had not heard any major complaint from any Belgian company yet as Belgian exports were either coming to Doha directly or they had found alternate routes.
He said that Belgium was the first country from Europe to sign LNG import agreement with Qatar in 2006. The ambassador said that Belgium was exporting heavy machinery, transport material as well as chemical products to Qatar. Lauding Qatar's investment in sports, Payot said: 'Sport brings people together irrespective of their ideology, religion or nationality. Qatar has hosted important sport events and is set to host more like FIG World Artistic Gymnastic Championships in 2018, World Athletics Championships in 2019 and then the most important of all FIFA 2022 World Cup.
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