Saudi Arabia, Turkey announce new era of cooperation in bilateral ties
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced in a joint statement on Wednesday that the two countries would introduce a new era of cooperation in bilateral ties, including political, economic, military, security, and cultural relations, state-run news agency AA reported.
Saudi Crown Prince visited Turkey on Wednesday for the first time since the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for talks and a state dinner with President Erdoğan.
The two leaders have been seeking to normalise relations ruined by the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and deep differences over regional policy, including the war in Libya and Erdoğan's support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Many Turks are opposed to the rapprochement and were shocked when Erdoğan visited Saudi Arabia in April and embraced Prince Mohammed, who he had all but accused of giving a direct order for Khashoggi’s killing. Just prior to Erdoğan’s trip, a Turkish court ended the trial of several murder suspects in absentia and transferred the case to Saudi Arabia, sparking condemnation from human rights groups.
Sixty percent of Turks look negatively on the rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, while 29.7 percent see the initiative as positive, according to a nationwide survey conducted last month by Ankara-based research company Metropoll. Özer Sencar, Metropoll’s founder, published the survey’s results on Twitter on Tuesday.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said this week that Erdoğan would “embrace the man who ordered the killing" of Khashoggi. Prince Mohammed denies involvement in the crime.
Erdoğan has been accused by his political opponents of engaging in an immoral climbdown over Khashoggi’s death in return for garnering funds from Saudi Arabia to help Turkey’s maligned economy ahead of elections next year. The Turkish lira has slumped against the dollar and inflation has soared to more than 70 percent, sending many people into poverty and hurting the president’s popularity.
The central bank’s net foreign currency reserves probably dwindled to about $7 billion last week, according to preliminary data, Reuters reported. That was the lowest level in 20 years. The bank has spent well over $100 billion of its reserves since a bout of lira volatility first erupted in 2018.
The lira was trading down 0.2 percent at 17.35 per dollar as of 10:20 a.m. local time on Wednesday. It has lost more than 20 percent of its value this year and fell by 44 percent in 2021.
The two leaders issued a joint statement after a meeting:
-The Turkish President and Saudi Crown Prince agreed to facilitate bilateral trade between the two countries, to explore investment opportunities and transforming them into concrete partnerships in various fields.
-Turkey and Saudi Arabia vowed to improve cooperation in the field of energy, electricity, renewable energy, innovation and clean technologies.
-The parties agreed on the development of production and investment partnerships in the fields of artificial intelligence, digital technologies and smart cities and encouraging the cooperation of private sector actors operating in these fields.
-The parties emphasized their determination to combat climate change and environmental challenges and agreed to increase cooperation in these areas.
-The parties agreed to activate the agreements signed between the two countries in the fields of defence cooperation in a way that would serve the interests of the two countries and contribute to the security and stability of the region.
-The two countries agreed to improve judicial cooperation, sharing of experience among experts in the legal and judicial fields.
-Ankara and Riyadh emphasized the importance of cooperation in tourism.
-The countries underlined the importance of strengthening cooperation in civil aviation and increasing the number of flights between the two countries.
-The two sides emphasized their determination to improve the existing cooperation between the two countries in the field of health and agreed to explore cooperation opportunities in the field of health investments.
-In line with the interests of the two countries and their peoples, the parties decided to deepen the consultation and cooperation on regional issues in order to strengthen the stability and peace of the region.