Interview of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Qatari media.
- What is the purpose of the visit of the President of Ukraine to the State of Qatar?
- First of all, I would like to emphasize that the Emir of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and I have a common vision on the need to intensify Ukrainian-Qatari relations. I especially appreciate the opportunity to pay a visit at such a difficult time, when the whole world is facing a global coronavirus pandemic.
I and the members of the Ukrainian delegation noted the sincere hospitality with which we were greeted in Qatar. I am particularly pleased that my visit is taking place on the eve of the 28th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Qatar. I am very glad that during this time our countries have built a really strong partnership based on the principles of trust, friendship and mutual respect.
Of course, the main purpose of my visit is to negotiate with the leadership of the State of Qatar, in particular with the Emir of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and the Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior of Qatar Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani. I believe that maintaining the high dynamics of political dialogue at the highest level between our countries is an important component of further developing a mutually beneficial partnership. I appreciate the efforts of Qatar, which has literally secured a worthy place among the most developed countries in the world for itself.
In recent years, we have managed to significantly intensify cooperation between the two countries in various fields. However, I know that the potential of our partnership is much greater. Therefore, I am convinced that my visit to Qatar will give additional impetus to the deepening of friendly Ukrainian-Qatari relations.
- Who accompanies the President of Ukraine during this visit? Who are members of the Ukrainian delegation?
- During the visit I am accompanied by a large high-level delegation. This indicates a significant number of important projects and prospects for expanding cooperation in various fields. In particular, our delegation includes the Ministers of Interior, Energy and Agrarian Policy, a number of heads of state institutions, including in the field of infrastructure and military-technical cooperation, who will hold separate talks with their partners here in Doha.
- What can you say about Qatari-Ukrainian relations in general?
- Ukraine considers Qatar as one of the key partners in the Gulf region and the Arab world as a whole. We are now working to increase the volume of economic cooperation and expand cooperation between our countries in all areas of mutual interest.
An example of this is the constant growth of bilateral trade, the introduction of direct flights between our capitals and the introduction of a visa-free regime for citizens of both countries.
- What agreements are planned to be signed during this visit?
- Today we plan to sign a package of bilateral documents on deepening cooperation in the legal and security spheres, in the field of food security, energy, youth and sports, healthcare. We also plan to sign documents on mutual recognition of seafarers' certificates and driver's licenses.
A number of commercial and investment agreements will be signed to expand investment cooperation between the two countries.
For several years, both sides have been actively working on these important documents. This is a difficult and persistent work, for which I am grateful to the experts involved in the relevant ministries and institutions of Ukraine and Qatar.
- What is your assessment of the progress of joint economic and investment projects between the two countries?
- As the President of Ukraine, I consider it necessary not only to attract foreign investment. My entire team, our government is actively working to provide transparent and predictable conditions for investors, so that business feels comfortable working in our country. I would like to emphasize that Ukraine is open to attracting foreign investment, including Qatar's sovereign and investment funds, in such areas as high technology, infrastructure, financial, energy and agricultural sectors.
Trade and economic cooperation is the basis of our relations with Qatar. It is gratifying that bilateral trade has reached high levels of almost $ 150 million as a result of such a difficult, "pandemic" 2020. This is twice as much as, for example, in 2018. And this year the dynamics of trade between our countries has increased. However, I am confident that the potential of our trade and economic cooperation is much greater. And we see the intensification of relations in various fields.
A good example of such opportunities is the concession of the Ukrainian port Olvia by the Qatari company QTerminals. It is nice that such big business players are entering the Ukrainian market. For my part, I would like to assure you once again that my priority is to systematically improve the investment climate and create the most favorable conditions for foreign investors in Ukraine. To this end, we are reforming legislation and implementing ambitious national programs.
In February 2021, I signed a law on so-called investment nannies, which provides for state support for strategic investors with an investment volume of more than 20 million euros. We also have a law on concessions, which encourages public-private partnerships.
The mega-project "Large Construction", which envisages the construction of roads and other infrastructure facilities, is promising for investors.
This summer we are launching a historic land reform that establishes transparent relations in the agricultural sector. Ukraine is known for its rich chornozems around the world. Two thirds of our territory is fertile soil. And this is more than 42 million hectares of agricultural land. Therefore, in the agricultural sector we have many areas for investment: animal husbandry, processing of agricultural products, logistics infrastructure.
- Where do you see new horizons for political, economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries?
- Ukraine is a powerful supplier of metallurgical products. We are also a reliable supplier of agricultural and food products. Our country is ready to act as a guarantor of world food security. Ukrainian exporters are already able to implement the necessary certification procedures, first of all, compliance with halal requirements.
We are interested in expanding air services between Ukraine and Qatar, which, among other things, will help create the right conditions for the development of cooperation in the field of tourism.
I hope that this year, despite COVID-19, we will be able to hold the second meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Ukrainian-Qatari Commission on Economic, Trade and Technical Cooperation.
- What is your assessment of the level of coordination between the two countries on various international issues?
- I was pleased to learn about the results of the 41st summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in particular the agreements reached on political and diplomatic reconciliation between Qatar, on the one hand, and Bahrain, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Preserving the unity and solidarity of the member states of the Council remains an integral guarantee of further strengthening peace, security and stability in the Middle East.
We also note Qatar's active mediation efforts in resolving international conflicts, particularly in the context of promoting peace in Afghanistan.
It is gratifying that our countries maintain close cooperation within international organizations, in particular in the context of discussing the most pressing international issues. We very much hope for further support of Qatar's partners on important initiatives for Ukraine.
I also want to note that Ukraine has a traditionally high level of cooperation with the Middle East and the Islamic world in general, we understand the Arab countries, your culture and history, your contribution to world civilization.
- Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the Middle East. How can Ukraine contribute to this global event?
- The key to a real holiday for the fans will be the professional management and traditional hospitality of Qatar. I would like to add that Ukraine has a huge experience of holding mass events and sports competitions. In particular, in 2012 we hosted the European Football Championship, and in 2019 the final match of the Champions League among club teams took place in Kyiv. Therefore, we will be happy to share our experience with Qatari partners. These can be both purely technical and security issues. Ukrainian companies are also interested in participating in the implementation of various infrastructure projects for the World Cup in Qatar.
- How can the two countries cooperate in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic? How do you see international cooperation in this direction?
- Today, the coronavirus pandemic has become a common reality and a global challenge. This necessitates a concerted effort to address this issue. Qatar has already shown solidarity with its partners. I am grateful for the provision of humanitarian medical care to Ukraine in 2020 to combat the spread of COVID-19. I consider it a manifestation of true friendship.
We are also grateful to our Qatari partners for their assistance in evacuating Ukrainian citizens from all over the world with Qatar Airways aircraft during the most difficult times of the 2020 pandemic.
Ukraine also appreciates Qatar's contribution to global efforts to combat COVID-19. Humanitarian aid provided by Qatar to many countries around the world demonstrates your country's strong commitment to a spirit of partnership and mutual assistance in difficult times.