Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian had a meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani within the framework of a short visit to Qatar on June 18. Minister Nalbandian conveyed to his Qatari counterpart a letter from the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan addressed to Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
The Foreign Minister’s visit to Doha would be seen as a routine one and could go largely unnoticed, if not the diplomatic, political and economic crisis in Qatar. A number of Arab countries cut ties with the country, accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism.
How do you analysts assess the Armenian Foreign Minister’s visit to Doha under these circumstances? Expert of Arab studies Armen Petrosyan describes it as “symbolic step of diplomatic support.”
Speaking to Public Radio of Armenia, the expert said “any crisis opens up new opportunities, and in the given situation it’s necessary to take a risk to have gains.”
“We have to take note of the fact that our two allies – Russia and Iran – stand against the policy towards Qatar,” he noted.
In a simultaneous development, the President of Iran has also sent a message to the Emir of Qatar. “Therefore, we witness a situation, where the initiative of isolating Qatar created an opposite alliance – that of Qatar supporters,” Armen Petrosyan said.
“Obviously, Qatar has a descent array of supporting countries,” he said. According to the expert, the countries that initiated the isolation of Qatar could not have predicted such development of events. “They expected a quick capitulation, but that did not happen,” he said.
How will the situation develop? Will the confrontation tend to aggravate or there will be a political solution? Both scenarios seem likely to Armen Petrosyan. “What’s certain is that the status quo cannot remain in place for too long.”
Political scientist Stepan Grigoryan also says that “Minister Nalbandian’s visit is justified.” “The visit was correct and diplomatically justified, considering the steps Armenia has taken to intensify the political and economic relations with Qatar. This is the first factor,” he told Public Radio of Armenia. (Armenia has recently lifted visa requirements for citizens of Qatar.)
Secondly, the political scientist reminds that Armenia enjoys good relations with Egypt, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, countries that are not the initiators of the boycott, but are participants of it.
“That means Armenia can assume a mediating role. After this meeting the authorities of Qatar may ask Armenia to convey some information to the opposite side. That is to say, Armenia can well assume an important role, considering its good relations with both parties. Doing nothing and being too cautious does not work, pro-active policy is what we need,” Stepan Grigoryan said.