Berlin’s envoy to Qatar says Germany's criticism of World Cup harming business, relations
Germany's ambassador to Doha has spoken out against his country’s recent criticism of Qatar before and during the 2022 World Cup, warning that "serious harm" had resulted from negative comments and coverage.
In a four-page diplomatic cable revealed by the Der Spiegel news website, Claudius Fischbach said that German treatment of Qatar was "wrong" and "needs to change".
He said that Qatar was being subjected to "a bewildering media campaign that misses every anomaly and every measure" and refuses to acknowledge "any significant advancements".
In the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, Qatar was subjected to a widespread campaign of negative media coverage, focusing on issues such as mistreatment of foreign workers and LGBTQ+ rights.
Qatari authorities have said that most of the claims against the Gulf state are untrue or sensationalised, saying that far-reaching reforms to labour laws have recently been enacted and that all fans are welcome at the World Cup regardless of sexual orientation – though homosexuality remains illegal in Qatar.
Germany has been particularly vocal in criticism of the World Cup hosts, with the German football team covering their mouths in a controversial pre-match gesture and German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wearing a pro-LGBTQ+ "One Love" armband during the match between Germany and Japan.
The gestures were slammed by some in the Arab world as "disrespect of a foreign culture".
In his cable, Fischbach said that while Germany had "experienced a significant confidence bonus in Qatar in recent years", the gains had been undone in the past few weeks following critical comments from German officials.
Qatar this year announced that it will deliver liquid gas to Germany but Fischbach warned of a "miserable" mood in the Gulf state regarding business with Germany.
"We don’t need to spend much time discussing how important Qatar is to us as a pro-Western ally. The most crucial keywords are energy supply, effective conflict resolution in challenging circumstances, and dependable investment activity in Germany," he said.
"This broad picture must not be lost in our foreign policy actions toward Qatar."
Fischbach urged the German government to make a statement "recognising the very good implementation of the World Cup so far" and expressing satisfaction with the recent gas supply agreement, as a confidence-building measure.
He added that Qatar’s frustrations with the German position on the World Cup must be "taken seriously" and that the "traditionally good" relationship between the two countries must be affirmed.