Turkey’s diplomacy priority ‘normalization with regional rivals’
NURAY BABACAN- ANKARA
Turkey’s near-term priority in foreign policy will continue to be normalizing the strained ties with regional rivals, including Armenia, Israel and Gulf countries, the daily Hürriyet has learned from sources.
An overall assessment of Turkey’s foreign policy and its priorities was made at a briefing held at the Turkish Presidency a couple of weeks ago, which has concluded that Turkey’s success in dealing with internal problems also depends on its diplomatic performance.
The creation of a “trouble-free circle” around Turkey and normalizing the diplomatic ties with Armenia and Israel, as well as other regional countries, have been mentioned as necessary.
Turkey and Armenia held their first meeting at the level of special envoys in Moscow and agreed to continue talks for reconciling and establishing diplomatic and economic bonds after three decades. As part of confidence-building measures, they have also agreed to start reciprocal charter flights between Istanbul and Yerevan.
According to the information obtained from the briefing, it has been agreed that further studies should be made to launch flights between different cities, including Kars and Van, the cities hosting important religious and historical sites for Armenians. Especially Van, where a historical Armenian Church on Akdamar Island is located, can turn into a touristic spot for the Armenians, noted the briefing.
Plus, participants of the meeting discussed the need for a restoration campaign of some historical architectural structures near Kars, including bridges and buildings that are of importance to Armenians. In addition, increasing trade and economic activities with Armenia would ease up the Armenian diaspora, which seems to be skeptical about normalizing ties with Turkey.
Ties with Israel
On recently observed engagement between Turkey and Israel, which have lowered the level of diplomatic representation in 2018, participants cited that the release of an Israeli couple who were detained for alleged espionage in Istanbul has facilitated the normalization process. The language towards Israel will be further softened and more exchanges will be carried out following the phone conversations between the two countries’ presidents and foreign ministers. The next stage in ties with Israel will be the reciprocal appointment of ambassadors.
Turkey follows Libya closely
Another key issue discussed at the briefing was the recent developments in Libya, which had to postpone the elections. Considering Libya as a key country for its eastern Mediterranean interests and a door opening to Africa, the government will further deepen its ties with this country. The Turkish government believes that the political side it pursues close ties with would win the elections.
On the normalization with Egypt, it is noted that it will take some more time. The normalization process launched with the United Arab Emirates should expand with Saudi Arabia, participants at the briefing stressed.