Paris, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani digressed from the text of the speech that he was delivering yesterday in Paris to a banquet held in his honor and hosted by Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë to address the issue of Iran. The Emir said that stability in Iran is important not just to Qatar, but to the Gulf and the entire Arab world.
The Emir also praised “Iranian democracy” that has “witnessed four Presidents since the Iranian revolution thirty years ago” adding that “during this [same period], the Presidents in some Arab countries have not changed, and so this shows that Iran practices democracy.”
Sheikh Hamad described what is taking place in Iran with regards to the protests against the recent [electoral] results obtained by President Ahmadinejad as “things that take place in every democracy and this is what happened following the French Revolution.”
The Emir of Qatar began his day in the Champs Elysses, laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe. The Emir later met with Gerard Larcher, President of the French Senate. In the evening the Emir was the guest of the French President who held a gala in his honour.
Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë praised Qatar’s success in uniting openness to modernity with the preservation of traditions. Delanoë also praised the significant role played by Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser al-Missned as head of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development. The Mayor also announced that Paris would play host to an international Qatari summit on investment and capital markets in March of next year. During the banquet hosted by the Mayor of Paris, the Emir of Qatar described the city as “a model for all cities and a meeting place for all civilizations”
President Sarkozy spoke of the “shared vision” held by France and Qatar, and praised the “special partnership” between the two countries. The French President also praised the joint diplomatic projects undertaken by Paris and Doha, referring specifically to the 2007 release of the five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor from Libyan prisons. President Sarkozy said that the Emir of Qatar had “done much” to find a solution.
Sarkozy also praised the role Qatar played in the Doha Agreement made in May of last year. This agreement opened the door for the election of the President of Lebanon. The French President also said that the summit between Lebanon, France, Syria, and Qatar “that took place at the Elysee Palace prior to the Mediterranean Summit” had “laid the foundations for establishing diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Syria.”
President Sarkozy praised the role played by Qatar, and particularly that of Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, in pushing for a political solution to the Darfur crisis. Sarkozy said that Qatar “has become an influential player in international relations.”
Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë spoke of the French concern towards Iraq; addressing the Emir of Qatar he said “Today we share your concern with regards to the stability of Iraq and the schism between the Sunnis and Shiites.” The Mayor also spoke of his concern with regards to the images coming out of Iran, and the spreading violence and chaos.