Turkey, Israel to hold political consultation meeting within month
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkish ambassador to Israel Kemal Ökem hands his diplomatic credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at Rivlin's official residence in Jerusalem. AFP photo
Israel and Turkey are drafting a road map for a cooperation agenda following an agreement to normalize relations and appoint respective ambassadors in the wake of the 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre.
The undersecretaries of the two countries’ foreign ministries will meet within one month for a political consultation meeting, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official has told the Hürriyet Daily News.
High-level visits will be planned in line with the decisions taken at the meeting, with the economy and tourism to have priority at the mutual visits, the official said.
Turkey will participate in a tourism fair in Israel on Feb. 7 and 8, perhaps at the level of the culture and tourism minister level, the official noted. A visit by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to Israel will also be on the agenda when his schedule becomes available.
Officials are aiming to update a free trade agreement between Turkey and Israel by expanding it on issues such as agricultural products.
“This is very important for us because the two countries are complementary to each other. In areas such as information, information, innovation; Israel has made significant progress. But they need to find markets for those products. In this respect, Turkey stands out as a very important partner in the region,” the official said.
Turkey also expects the mutual lifting of visa procedures with Israel.
At the same time, the two countries will step up cooperation on security issues.
The official underlined that both countries require consultations on regional security issues such as Syria, and the sharing of security information will be on the agenda during the political consultation meeting, the official added.
Turkish-Israeli relations came to breaking point after Israeli marines stormed the Mavi Marmara flotilla, which was aiming to break a naval blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip in May 2010, killing 10 Turkish activists on board.
After six years, Israel apologized for the raid, paying out $20 million to the bereaved and injured as a part of the rapprochement deal signed between the two countries on June 28.
Eitan Na’eh was appointed as Israel’s ambassador to Ankara last month, while Kemal Öktem became Turkey’s envoy to Tel Aviv.