Erdoğan hails peace efforts on Korean peninsula
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 2 congratulated South Korean President Moon on the Seoul-Pyongyang agreement to seek peace and prosperity on the peninsula.
“That was a meeting [between the leaders of North and South Korea] that removed the world’s fears and anxieties. We hope this determination will continue. We congratulate you on the success of the talks,” Erdoğan said in Seoul during a state visit.
“This process may pave the way for much better developments if North Korea holds talks with other countries. We, as Turkey, are ready to do our part in this process,” he added.
The leaders of North and South Korea agreed on April 27 for a “complete denuclearization” and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Relations between Turkey and South Korea stretch back to the 1950s, when Turkish forces served under the U.N. Command during the Korean War and 774 Turkish soldiers were killed.
The primary focus of Erdoğan’s trip has been economic cooperation. In Seoul, the two sides agreed to boost relations in numerous areas ranging from trade to defense after an official welcoming ceremony and summit meeting between Erdoğan and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Erdoğan’s two-day trip makes him Turkey’s first leader to pay a state visit to the South since the countries upgraded bilateral relations to the level of a strategic partnership in 2012, a year before signing a free trade agreement.
“The two leaders noted the South Korea-Turkey free trade agreement [FTA] has become an important foundation of mutually beneficial economic cooperation by ensuring balanced growth of trade between the two countries, and agreed to quickly implement an agreement on the service industry and the investment sector within the framework of the South Korea-Turkey FTA,” a joint press release stated following the summit on May 2.
The Turkish president also met National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun and announced that four agreements had been signed between Turkey and South Korea.
“We discussed what we could do in the area of the defense industry and many other areas in the future during our bilateral meeting and delegation meeting,” Erdoğan said.
“It will also be a distinguished pride for us to have Korea included in our Kanal Istanbul project,” he added, referring to the controversial plan to build an artificial canal from the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Environmental and urban campaigners have issued dire warnings about the project, amid fears of environmental degradation and rampant land speculation in a city that is already starved of green space.
“I believe that enhancing bilateral relations and communication between the parliaments will be greatly beneficial,” Erdoğan said, also invited Sye-kyun for a return visit to Turkey.
The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industries hosted business leaders at an event in Seoul on May 2 for the 150-member Turkish delegation to develop contacts.
“The role of companies is becoming more important to cement economic relations between the two nations,” Trade Minister Paik Un-gyu said during his opening remarks, also promising government support in this regard.
The bilateral trade volume between the two countries rose over 17 percent between 2012 and 2017, reaching $6.12 billion based on Seoul’s official data.
Earlier, Erdoğan paid a visit to the Seoul National Cemetery where he placed a wreath and signed the journal at the cemetery.
He is set to see more of Moon beyond the state dinner held on May 2 evening, as they agreed to expand their MIKTA partnership. MIKTA is an informal partnership consisting of Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia.