Closed-door meeting shows Turkey’s increased interest in Algeria

Out of all the participants in the opening ceremony of the Islamic Solidarity Games held in Konya in central Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan chose on Tuesday Algerian Prime Minister Aimene Benabderrahmane for a private meeting.

The closed-door meeting clearly shows Turkey’s great interest in Algeria, with Erdogan seeking to boost ties with the North African oil- and gas-rich country.

Although the Turkish side did not reveal the files that were discussed between the two parties, it remains certain that the Libyan conflict and the energy file - in addition to Turkish economic interests in Algeria - were among the most prominent axes that the meeting dealt with.

Benabderrahmane said he had informed Erdogan of the desire of his counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune to open new horizons in relations between the two countries, Turkish media reported.

Stating that the meeting focused on many files especially trade and investment, Benabderrahmane said, "I conveyed to him (the Turkish president) the greetings of his brother Abdelmadjid Tebboune and his will to move forward in order to dedicate new horizons to Algerian-Turkish relations."

The Algerian premier added that his participation in the opening ceremony of the Islamic Solidarity Games "reflects the depth of relations between Algeria and Turkey and the desire to strengthen them."

Bilateral cooperation in various sectors is conditioned on the resolution of conflicting positions and interests in the Libyan crisis.

Algeria, which is looking for a political settlement to the crisis without foreign interference, finds itself clashing with Istanbul’s ambitions in Tripoli and the region in general.

In mid-May, a three-day visit to Turkey by Tebboune paved the way for  Ankara to extend the scope of its influence in North Africa and the Sahel region.

According to analysts, the wide-ranging agreements signed, which cover security and military fields of cooperation, would allow Turkey to use Algeria as a launchpad for activities in the wider African region and to exert a greater measure of influence in neighbouring Libya and Tunisia.

Erdogan had previously described Algeria as one of the gateways to Africa and said he was confident that the presence of Turkish companies would be the “economic locomotives” to help diversify and strengthen the Algerian economy in the military, economic, commercial, cultural and tourism sectors.

In a recent interview with Anadolu Agency, Tebboune said that “Algeria’s strive for developing ties with Turkey is normal given the long history between the two countries.”

In June, Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay said his country's investments in Algeria reached $5 billion.

He added during a visit to Algeria that there were over 1,400 Turkish companies working in Algeria, reiterating Turkey’s desire to sign a free trade agreement or a preferential trading agreement with the North African country.

This article was originally published in the Arab Weekly and republished here with permission.

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