Qatar, Russia to boost ties as charm offensive continues

December 30, 2010
By

Titorenko

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will visit Qatar twice in 2011 and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will make a visit to the Gulf country next year, Russia’s ambassador in Doha has said.

No dates have been fixed for any of the visits, Vladimir Titorenko said.

However, he said that that the high-level visits reflected the new status of Qatar as the third highest ranking Arab country in terms of economic ties with Russia.

Qatar will be purchasing weapons and other equipment, mainly for defence purposes, from Russia, the ambassador said, but without elaborating.

Moscow will also be involved with Qatar Foundation and Education City in the future, with Russian students set to enroll for studies, he said.

Gas and energy agreements top the cooperation list, but Qatar and Russia have also been working on a number of financial joint ventures, including a $2bn deal with VTB bank to handle Qatari investments in Russia, Titorenko told Qatari daily Gulf Times.

According to the envoy, the president of Russian bank VEB is set to visit Qatar next month to discuss the possibility of joint venture funds in other projects.

Other trade developments include the importing of around $200mn worth of copper for the production of electrical wires, as well as $500mn worth of wheat, chicken meat and eggs.

The ambassador who insisted that 2010 was the most fruitful year of co-operation between the two countries since diplomatic relations were established in 1989, said that Qatar residents will soon be able to “enjoy” Russian reindeer meat as a result of an agreement between businesses from both countries.

In the field of technology, a Russian company is being tasked to provide fibre optics to every household in Qatar, as it did in Moscow, and there are various other scientific and research projects in the pipeline, said Titorenko, a career diplomat who was twice ambassador in Iraq (1994-1999 and 2002-2003) and in Algeria (2003-2007) before he was appointed in Doha in 2009.

For the envoy, bilateral ties received a massive boost with the recent exchanges of visits between the two countries.

Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shaikh Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani has visited Russia twice, while the Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy and Industry, Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah have both visited the country.

Russian dignitaries who visited Qatar included the vice president and the minister of energy.

“Such an intensive exchange of high-level visits is unusual,” Titorenko said.

The Russian community in Qatar has also significantly grown over the past year, the envoy said.

“While the number of Russian expatriates residing here last year was only around 800, their number has now increased to 2000,” he said.

The ambassador said that various other agreements have either been signed or are set to be finalised in the near future. The fact that the countries share the position of ‘future hosts of the football World Cup,’ should lead to further cooperation, especially in the construction sector, he said.

Despite the progress in their relations, Titorenko, who speaks Arabic, French and English as well, said he wished that a number of proposals in the fields of culture, education and health had been acted upon by local authorities, the daily said.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-russia-to-boost-ties-as-charm-offensive-continues-1.738410

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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