‘Ankara, Riyadh poised for greater cooperation’

:: Relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey have witnessed a rapid qualitative and quantitative improvement and are poised for major intensification in near future because the two countries today stand as “main pillars for regional stability,” said Turkish Ambassador Yunus Demirer.

Speaking on the occasion of Turkish national day, the Turkish envoy said that “the depth and diversity of our relations, our joint commitment to stability and well-being of the region, and intertwined interests lead our countries to propel the existing relationship to higher levels. We are two brotherly countries bound by strong historical, social and cultural ties.”

Demirer said that Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home to the two holy mosques, has always had “a revered place in Turkish hearts and minds.” The two countries are close allies and strong economic partners. “Further deepening of our relations in all fields would not only be beneficial to our people, but also for the entire region,” reaffirmed the envoy.

He said that the centerpiece of our political dialogue has always been the frequency of official visits. For instance, there were more than 25 high-level official visits between Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the last two years.

Referring to the growing relations between the Kingdom and Turkey, the diplomat said that relations between countries should not only be confined to politicians or diplomats but these ties should also be strengthened between cultural leaders, academics and most importantly between individuals. In this context, he said that the number of Saudi nationals visiting Turkey has increased rapidly in the last few years and reached more than 500,000 in 2016.

“This number increased by 37 percent during the first seven months of 2017 compared with the same period of 2016,” said the envoy. He said that business, as well as the tourism traffic, between the Kingdom and Turkey have been growing steadily as Turkey offers a wide range of halal tourism products and services.

Asked about the activities of the special councils set up by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, he said that “our communication and exchanges have found a new special channel since 2016 with the establishment of Saudi-Turkish Coordination Council.

“The Saudi-Turkish Coordination Council is the natural manifestation of the strategic partnership our countries have enjoyed all these years,” he added.

“And now with proper political inertia and structural mechanisms in the form of specialized working groups, the existing potential is said to have finally found direction,” said the ambassador, while referring to the first round of annual talks that took place on Feb. 8, 2017, in Ankara and were devoted to evaluating strategies and means to operate this new council.

He said the council would guide our cooperation in various fields such as culture, technology, sports, labor relations and housing development. “We are sure to see a gradual enhancement in the scope and intensity of our endeavors in a short span of time within the framework of the Saudi-Turkish Cooperation Council,” he noted.

Responding to a query about the Turkish position on Syria, Yemen and the Middle East peace process, the envoy said: “Saudi Arabia and Turkey have common views and approaches toward a range of regional issue like the Palestinians’ plight, the Syrian conflict, the situation in Iraq and combatting terrorism.”

“Having said that, it should not come as a surprise that the structural initiatives between the two countries should reflect the very sentiments that join our two countries in solidarity,” he added.

On the economic front, he said that the two countries have forged closer ties. “A careful look at the composition of our trade reveals an improvement in the complementarity index, which means that our imports and exports have evolved in a way to better suit one another’s needs,” said the diplomat. A total of 90 percent of Turkey’s imports from Saudi Arabia are composed of oil and petrochemicals, he noted.

On the other hand, Turkey’s main exports to Saudi Arabia are industrial products. Turkey also follows with great interest and appreciation the unfolding of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, he said. “My government is also pursuing a similar initiative called the Vision 2023, which seeks to boost developmental efforts until the centennial of our republic,” the envoy added. “All along this thorny path of economic and social transformation, Saudi Arabia can be sure to find a reliable partner and a friend in Turkey,” he said.

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