Merkel, Wulff, Habeck: How German politicians court Qatar
Created: 07/25/2022, 15:11
By: Andreas Schmid
German politicians visiting the Gulf: Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck and Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Kasim al-Abdullah Al Thani, Minister of Trade and Industry of Qatar.
© Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa (Montage)
Leading German politicians and their relations with the Qatari Emir: There is always a lot to talk about - because the relationship is getting closer and closer.
Berlin/Doha – higher, faster, further, richer.
Qatar is booming.
Qatar is the fourth richest country in the world in terms of gross domestic product per capita adjusted for purchasing power.
This is due to the natural resources of oil and natural gas, as well as close economic ties with the West.
This also promotes German politics.
German-Qatarian Relations: The Emirate as a "Bearer of Hope"?
from IPPEN.MEDIA speak of a closer relationship between Germany and Qatar.
"It has developed constantly over the past 25 years," says Bettina Gräf from the Institute for the Near and Middle East at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.
You would see that in energy policy, for example.
The Middle East expert Sebastian Sons recently said in the sports committee of the Bundestag: "Qatar is not a partner of choice.
Qatar is a partner of necessity.” Germany is now heavily dependent on the desert state.
However, the West certainly had a choice – it just didn't use it.
Wulff in Qatar: influencing the Fifa award?
"That's why we have this World Cup"
In the past, a number of important politicians made their way to Doha, 4,500 kilometers from Berlin – regardless of their political persuasion.
In his function as Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff spoke about business between Qatar and Volkswagen.
When the CDU politician rose to become Federal President in 2010, he promptly invited the Qatari emir to Berlin.
It shouldn't be the only visit.
In 2010, Wulff intensified its relations with Qatar, the year Qatar was awarded the World Cup.
Former Fifa President Sepp Blatter accuses Wulff of direct influence.
“Mrs. Sarkozy and Wulff tried to influence their electors.
That's why we now have a World Cup in Qatar," Blatter told
Welt am Sonntag
in 2015 .
The Swiss politician Andreas Gross tells
that Wulff contacted Blatter before the World Cup was awarded.
The FIFA boss should vote for Qatar.
Blatter confirmed this to the social democratic politician.
The two Swiss have known each other for years.
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At the locations in Berlin, Hamburg/Bremen, Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart and Vienna, journalists from our central editorial office research and publish for more than 50 news offers.
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According to Gross, the background is economic aspects: "Germany and France were very interested in the World Cup in Qatar because it involved orders worth several billion euros from companies in both countries." Christian Wulff denied political influence on a Merkur.de request .
As Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, he represented Lower Saxony's interests and as Federal President, German ones.
"Sport in Germany is rightly free and independent."
Christian Wullf on one of his trips to Qatar.
In his biography, too, the former Federal President denies having exerted any political influence on the awarding of the World Cup.
© Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance
Merkel in Qatar: "Germany would like to have a stake in projects"
Former Chancellor Angela Merkel jetted to Qatar in 2010.
Backed by a prominent business delegation, the CDU politician praised "impressive projects" in the Gulf.
"Of course, German industry would like to be involved in these projects." And that's how it happened.
After the USA and China, Germany is Qatar's most important trading partner.
Merkel often sought contact with the emirate, approved arms deliveries and supported economic relations, for example with the German-Qatarian economic conference.
On the fringes of the meeting, Emir Al Thani announced that Qatar wanted to invest ten billion euros in Germany over the next five years.
"Of course, Your Highness, I am pleased about the interest that Qatar is showing in Germany," said Merkel at the event.
Angela Merkel and Sheik Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani in 2018 at the German-Qatari Economic Conference.
© Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance
Qatar and Germany: Union, SPD, FDP – politicians present in the Gulf
The visit of Stephan Weil, SPD Prime Minister of the car stronghold of Lower Saxony, also dealt with economic aspects.
In 2019 he had several members of the state parliament from the SPD, CDU and FDP with him, as well as a business delegation.
Because: The Qatari sovereign wealth fund holds, among other things, 17 percent of the voting rights in Volkswagen AG.
The state of Lower Saxony owns 20 percent.
Weil's party colleague Frank-Walter Steinmeier was also in Doha several times.
During his time as Federal President, there was a major golf trip and receptions by the Qatari Emir at Bellevue Palace.
The Qatari ruling family was also a welcome guest under Steinmeier's predecessor, Joachim Gauck.
Qatar's former economics minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), former foreign minister Guido Westerwelle (FDP) and Saxony's former prime minister Stanislaw Tillich (CDU), who promoted business deals with companies from the Free State, also visited Qatar.
Qatari politicians have repeatedly been guests in Germany.
The Emir was allowed to sign the guest book of the Bavarian state government.
Emir Al Thani in 2014 with the then Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer and the Bavarian Economics Minister Ilse Aigner (both CSU).
© IMAGO/Sven Simon
Habeck in Qatar: “Great” deal on liquefied natural gas
The most recent example of German-Qatarian politics is Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck's visit to Doha.
The Greens politician announced an energy partnership with Qatar - probably also due to the preliminary work of German politicians.
"Without the already very intensive German relations with Qatar, Robert Habeck could not have simply traveled to Doha and asked about a long-term gas partnership," says Gräf.
Also present: 22 German companies, from the energy supply group RWE to the steel manufacturer Thyssenkrupp and Deutsche Bank.
A green minister holding hands with Qatari sheikhs.
This has at least caused irritation in the green party base.
Habeck had to perform a balancing act in Qatar: On the one hand, not to alienate the Emir, so as not to jeopardize the "great" liquefied natural gas deal.
On the other hand, don't forget the human rights violations.
On request, the Ministry of Economics refers to Habeck's statements on the humanitarian situation in Qatar.
The Qatari government has positioned itself "clearly" to improve the human rights situation.
Habeck was able to bag the deal, but did not actually improve the situation for guest workers.
Since the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Germany has been significantly more dependent on Qatar than Qatar is on Germany
Bettina Gräf, Middle East expert LMU Munich
The German-Qatarian relations are no coincidence.
The desert state has been a close ally of the Federal Republic for years.
Expert Gräf attests that Qatar and Germany have a “closely interlinked” economic and foreign policy.
"In the two areas of business and politics, one acts neither at the European nor at the German level independently of each other, but in concert."
The Hamburg university professor and expert for the Gulf region Eckard Woertz speaks at
from IPPEN.MEDIA of an "undercooled pragmatic" relationship.
"You need each other, but you don't particularly like each other." At the moment, Germany primarily needs liquid gas.
"Qatar is a beacon of hope in the medium term when it comes to replacing Russian gas exports." According to Gräf, however, there is a risk of the next gas dependency: "Since the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Germany has been significantly more dependent on Qatar than Qatar is on Germany," says Gräf.
This text is part of the Inside Qatar series.
Until the football World Cup in winter, we want to give you regular background reports on the (sports) political situation in Qatar - and look at different topics.
If you have any suggestions, suggested topics or criticism, please contact email@example.com.
Qatar and the West: Two goals in partnership with countries like Germany
Qatar is pursuing economic and geostrategic goals in its partnerships with Western countries.
"One establishes oneself as a partner, mediator and translator between Asia and Europe. Geographically, Qatar has an excellent location for this," says Gräf, citing Qatar's support for the withdrawal from Afghanistan as an example.
Little Qatar is worried about its militarily stronger neighbors Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
At least since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, which led to the Second Gulf War.
"One establishes oneself as a partner, mediator and translator between Asia and Europe. Geographically, Qatar has an excellent location for this."
Woertz therefore also says: "The relationship will become closer.
Germany will have to offer long-term supply contracts in order to arouse the interest of the Qataris.” This means that German politicians will continue to travel to Qatar in the future.
Next on the agenda is a visit to Doha by Federal Sports Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD).