Turkey determined to enhance ties with Venezuela: Erdoğan
“We resolve to preserve the momentum we have achieved over the past two years and to enhance our relations further,” Erdoğan said at a news conference alongside his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro in the capital
Erdoğan, the first Turkish president to visit Venezuela, said that bilateral trade between Turkey and Venezuela has jumped more than six-fold over the previous year, exceeding $1 billion in the three quarters of 2018.
The president also said Venezuela had handed over two schools affiliated with the FETÖ - the group behind the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey - to a Turkish education body.
Maduro expressed hopes that Erdoğan’s visit would pave the way for a “new phase” in relations between the two countries.
He underlined his confidence that Turkish investors would “act on the interests of both countries,” praising the “beautiful” buildings erected in the South America country by Turkish firms.
“Turkish investors will continue to develop and strengthen trade and the progress in oil production and refineries, petrochemicals for gold production, in diamonds, coltan, iron aluminum and tourism,” said the Venezuelan president.
He stressed that the two countries enjoy “independent” economic relations with a high degree of transparency.
“We do not interfere in the trade of the U.S. or other countries, nobody should interfere with our commercial and economic activities,” he said, stressing that the South American country would continue to legally export its gold resources.
Last month the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s gold sector.
Maduro said the world was now past the time of “old empires of crushing supremacy” and had entered a multi-polar age.
“Turkey will play a critical role in the new multi-polar, multi-centered world,” Maduro said, adding that Caracas also has a “multi-polar agenda.”
Speaking at the business forum in Caracas, “Trade restrictions and sanctions are wrong,” Erdoğan said, warning that such measures would only deepen “instabilities.”
“You cannot punish an entire people to resolve political disagreements,” he added, according to an official translation of his speech to a business forum.
With oil production in a tailspin the socialist president Maduro has invited Turkish businesses to invest in exploiting a vast mining reserve known as the Arco del Orinoco in the south of the country, an area with considerable gold, diamond and coltan reserves.
Maduro said Turkish businesses intend to invest some 4.5 billion euros in Venezuela.
Maduro also conferred the country’s highest distinction, the Order of the Liberator, on Erdoğan, who said it was a symbol of the friendship between Ankara and Caracas.
Ten treaties were signed between the two countries, including on economic relations, defense industry cooperation and academia.