Energy in focus as Qatari Emir visits Prague
The Qatari head of state, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is currently on a state visit to Prague where he is meeting not only with Czech leaders but also with several other European representatives on the backdrop of the European summit in the Czech capital. Aside from the key topic of energy, discussions are also set to revolve around investments into the transport, spa, and weapons industry sectors.
The Emir of Qatar was welcomed with military honours at Prague Castle on Wednesday, in what is his first visit to Czechia. After being welcomed by President Miloš Zeman, the two men, together with their delegations, held a brief discussion.
At the subsequent press conference, the Czech head of state said that that the mutual talks touched both on economic cooperation and foreign policy.
“As far as economic questions are concerned, we signed an agreement on economic cooperation today, as well as a letter of commitment to sign an agreement on the protection of investments after the latter is ratified by the European Commission.
“I would like to highlight the friendly tone in which our negotiations were conducted and I believe that we have laid the groundwork for strategic – that means long-term – cooperation between our two countries.”
For his part, Emir Al Thani said that a Qatari embassy should open in Czechia within a few months and that he looked forward to a future visit of the Czech head of state to his home country. Czechia opened its embassy in Doha earlier this year.
While the Emir described Czech-Qatari relations as very good, he nevertheless lamented that the state of trade and investment between the two countries was not yet at a sufficient level. The leader of Qatar is visiting Prague accompanied by a delegation of around 100 Qatari businessmen, including the CEO of the country’s QIA (Qatar Investment Authority) investment fund. Over the past several years, the Gulf state has repeatedly expressed interest in investing in the Czech health industry, as well as into several other sectors such as the spa and transportation sectors.
In terms of foreign policy, President Zeman said that both countries condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and that the Emir will be attending the European Political Community meeting on Thursday, where the conflict and the ongoing energy crisis in Europe will be the main topic of discussion.
It is Qatar’s energy resources that are likely to be the chief reason why the Emir is being courted not just by Czech but also European leaders in Prague this week. The world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), Qatar also possesses the world’s third-largest oil and gas reserves.
Furthermore, the Gulf state plans to raise its LNG production by a further 64 percent by 2027. Czechia’s main energy company ČEZ is currently in the process of finalising agreements with Qatar Energy, which should lead to the two business entities becoming long term partners, HN.cz reports.