President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began a two-day official visit to Abu Dhabi on Monday, the first in nearly a decade, to open a new page in relations between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after years of tensions.
Dialogue and cooperation between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are important for the peace and stability of the whole region, Erdoğan stressed ahead of the trip.
“We do not consider the security and stability of all brotherly countries in the Gulf region separately from ours,” he told a press conference at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport before leaving for Istanbul. his first visit since recovering from COVID-19 after testing positive in early February. .
“We aim to improve the momentum to bring our relations back to the level they deserve. During my visit, we will take steps that will shape the next 50 years of our friendship and brotherhood with the United Arab Emirates,” he said. he declared.
Noting that he last visited the United Arab Emirates in 2013, Erdoğan said the countries ushered in a new era in bilateral relations with the visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), in Ankara last November.
“The complementary nature of the two economies indicates potential far beyond current figures. The purpose of our visit is to quickly realize this potential,” Erdogan said, adding that he believes Ankara and Abu Dhabi “will go far in this area.” direction.”
With a trade volume approaching $8 billion (TL 108.55 billion), the UAE is among Turkey’s top trading partners, he said.
“The UAE is the 10th largest market for the overseas contract sector in Turkey,” he said, noting that the UAE also makes “significant contributions to the dynamic investment environment ” in Turkey.
“Turkish construction companies in the UAE have so far undertaken 141 projects worth $13 billion,” he added.
Ahead of the president’s visit, the Turkish flag and the phrase “hoş geldiniz”, which means “welcome” in Turkish, were projected onto the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the United Arab Emirates.
During the visit, all aspects of bilateral relations will be discussed, including possibilities for strengthening regional and international cooperation and developments. Erdoğan is also expected to visit EXPO 2020 Dubai, where Turkey’s National Day will be celebrated.
Erdoğan and MBZ will attend a signing ceremony of a dozen agreements following individual meetings between the delegations.
The agreements will cover a range of areas, including investment, defence, transport, agriculture, health and media.
Ahead of the visit, a senior foreign policy adviser to the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, proclaimed on Sunday that Erdoğan’s trip would turn a new page in bilateral relations.
The president is traveling with a huge delegation, signaling the importance given to ties with the UAE, including Turkish ministers of foreign affairs, interior, economy, trade, industry and technology, transport, culture and tourism and agriculture.
Erdoğan’s visit comes as the UAE faces a growing threat from Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who in recent weeks have launched a series of drone and missile attacks on the country. Gulf countries and fostered increased defense cooperation with the United States and France.
Diplomatic adviser Anwar Gargash said on Twitter that Erdoğan’s visit to the UAE, “which comes after Al Nahyan’s visit to Turkey, opens a new positive page in bilateral relations between the two countries.”
Gargash said the visit “is in line with the UAE’s focus on strengthening bridges of communication and cooperation aimed at stability and prosperity in the region.”
Stressing that the UAE continues to strengthen communication channels with various countries in order to support the stability and prosperity of the region and the well-being of its people, Gargash said that “the policy of the UAE is positive and rational and is in the interest of security, peace and regional development.”
“President Erdogan’s visit to Abu Dhabi is part of this framework on which we are banking to ensure a prosperous future,” he added.
In an exclusive article written for the Emirati daily Khaleej Times on Saturday, Erdoğan said Turkey was strengthening its relationship with the UAE on the basis of mutual trust and respect.
Erdoğan expressed satisfaction that relations between the two countries are moving towards collaboration, adding that “the growing rapprochement between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates is gaining new momentum following our bilateral visits”.
“The two countries have the potential to collaborate in a wide range of areas around the world, especially in our immediate neighborhood and in Africa,” he noted.
“Turkey and the UAE can together contribute to regional peace, stability and prosperity,” Erdoğan stressed.
Erdoğan’s visit comes after MBZ visited Turkey in November last year for the first time since 2012.
Erdoğan and MBZ oversaw the signing of nearly a dozen cooperation agreements, including in the fields of technology, energy, trade and the environment, as well as agreements allowing direct investments and a cooperation between the stock exchanges and central banks of the two countries. Abu Dhabi also announced a $10 billion fund for investments in Turkey during the visit.
The two countries have seen their relationship affected by regional tensions, including the conflict in Libya, where the United Arab Emirates and Turkey have backed opposing sides in recent years.
Last year, Turkey accused the United Arab Emirates of wreaking havoc in the Middle East through its interventions in Libya and Yemen, while the United Arab Emirates and several other countries criticized Turkey’s military actions.
Relations hit a historic low when Erdoğan said Ankara could suspend diplomatic relations with the Abu Dhabi administration after the UAE-Israel deal.
Turkey has also sided with Qatar in a Gulf dispute, putting it at odds with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, while Turkish support last year has helped the Libyan government. supported by the United Nations in Tripoli to push back the forces supported by the United Arab Emirates which tried to seize the capital.
However, 2021 has seen Turkey seek warmer ties with several regional countries and longtime enemies after many tumultuous years.
Converging interests have led to regional power shifts in the Middle East, mainly led by regional powers Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
The diplomatic maneuver signals a growing realization across the region that U.S. interest is shifting elsewhere and that the time has come for negotiations that were unthinkable just a year ago.
Turkey is also engaged in an effort to mend frayed ties with other regional powers, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
“Turkey believes that the future of the region should be shaped on the basis of economic cooperation and political dialogue,” Fahrettin Altun, chief communications officer, wrote in an article in the Emirati daily Al-Ittihad on Saturday.
Altun said Turkey was delighted to see the UAE shared the same vision and was ready to work with Ankara for a more stable and prosperous region.
“As Turkey and the UAE, we believe that regional economic cooperation, both bilaterally and multilaterally, can be the basis for needed stability and peace in the region,” Altun wrote.
Altun expressed his belief that the two countries are committed to strengthening regional cooperation and creating new investment opportunities that will cultivate constructive economic ties.