Turkey’s normalization with rivals gains momentum: FM
Turkey’s attempts to normalize ties with foes will gain momentum through important visits and meetings with Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the Turkish Foreign Minister has reportedly told ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has been briefing AKP lawmakers about the government’s ongoing efforts to mend ties with the countries Turkey’s relationship was strained in the past years. These include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and Armenia.
“We went a long way with the UAE and Saudis. The transfer of Jamal Khashoggi and the activation of the judicial cooperation were in line with the normalization process [with Saudi Arabia],” Çavuşoğlu reportedly told AKP lawmakers.
He referred to a decision by the Justice Ministry to transfer the Khashoggi case to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi dissident journalist was killed on the premises of the General Consulate of Saudi Arabia by a squad comprising senior Saudi security officials. Ties between Ankara and Riyad were seriously hurt due to the incident.
It’s expected that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will pay a visit to Saudi Arabia upon the invitation of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. There is no yet official confirmation of the visit from either side.
Çavuşoğlu, Akar due in Israel
Another country that Turkey is in talks about normalizing the relations is Israel. “There are important developments in regards to the ties with Israel. We will pay a visit to Israel. Palestine also welcomes the improvement of our ties with Israel,” Çavuşoğlu told AKP MPs.
Palestinians believe the improvement of ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv will be in their interest and contribute to the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, he reportedly added.
Erdoğan had earlier announced that Çavuşoğlu would be accompanied by Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez on his visit to Israel, but it has been revealed that the top diplomat will be visiting the country with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar instead until the end of April.
Turkey and Israel had lowered the level of their mutual diplomatic presence to the level of chargé d’affaires following the killing of scores of Palestinian civilians by the latter’s security forces in early 2018 during a protest against the United States’ decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The first important move toward the accomplishment of the normalization was Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Ankara in March.
Erdoğan is planning to reciprocate Herzog’s visit in line with the results of Çavuşoğlu-Akar trip to Israel.
New dimension with Armenia
Turkey and Armenia, two neighboring countries that have never established diplomatic ties and kept their borders sealed since the early 1990s, are discussing ways to start a normal bilateral relationship.
Following two rounds of meetings between the two countries’ special envoys in January and February, Çavuşoğlu met his Armenian counterpart, Ararat Mizroyan, at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in March.
“We are coordinating the normalization process [with Armenia] with Azerbaijan,” Çavuşoğlu reportedly told the lawmakers. Azerbaijan and Armenia had fought in a 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh that ended with the former’s victory. Baku and Yerevan have recently agreed to launch formal talks for a peace agreement which includes drawing a final borderline between the two neighbors.
Meeting with Egyptian top diplomat at iftar dinner
Last but not least, Çavuşoğlu also shared important information concerning the slow-paced normalization process with Egypt. The two countries held two meetings in 2021 for the normalization of ties, but there were no visible outcomes.
Çavuşoğlu hinted that he would meet Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at an iftar dinner in Istanbul very soon. He did not detail on what occasion Shoukry would be in Turkey. Turkey and Egypt have long been at odds as Ankara was the loudest in opposing the coup d’état that ousted President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The coup was staged by Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who is now serving as the president of Egypt.