Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Eng. Waleed Elkhereiji said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Saudi Arabia extends the countries’ efforts to deepen their century-old historical relationship.
Elkhereiji expressed anticipation for continuous collaboration in the next five years, aiming to build stronger bridges and fulfill the aspirations of both leaderships ahead of the Saudi-Turkish relationship’s centenary in 2029.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Elkhereiji emphasized that one of the pillars of success in the distinguished relationship between Saudi Arabia and Türkiye is the business sector.
He highlighted the two nations’ integration rather than competition, pointing out that both countries strive to cooperate in encouraging direct investment and developing and diversifying bilateral trade.
Regarding the possibility of a Saudi-Turkish role within a unified diplomatic framework to extinguish the flames of war in Ukraine, Elkhereiji clarified that there is a convergence of views and perspectives between Saudi Arabia and Türkiye regarding the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.
This provides an opportunity for the two influential nations to work together in encouraging both parties to end the crisis.
Here is the text of the interview:
The visit of the Turkish President to Saudi Arabia comes amidst crises affecting the region and the world. What are the key issues that will be discussed between Saudi Arabia and Türkiye during this visit?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the Kingdom is an extension of the efforts of both countries to deepen their historical relationship, which will reach its centenary in 2029.
Over the next five years leading up to the Saudi-Turkish relationship's centenary, the two nations aspire to continue building stronger bridges and achieving the goals of their respective leaderships and peoples.
The visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz to Türkiye on June 22, 2022, in response to the invitation of the Turkish President, garnered wide international attention.
The Crown Prince’s visit marked a significant leap in the development of relations between the two countries and resulted in notable successes and partnerships across various sectors.
This was followed by the signing of cooperation agreements, reaffirming the commitment of both leaderships to further enhance bilateral relations based on their historical brotherhood and serving the common interests of both nations and ensuring a better future for the region.
Sixteen agreements were signed between Riyadh and Ankara, with a focus on industries and contracting, as discussions increase about opportunities to enhance trade and economic relations between the two countries within the frameworks of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and Türkiye’s “Century of Türkiye.”
Will the current summit witness the signing of more agreements, and in which specific areas?
One of the pillars of success in the distinguished relationship between Saudi Arabia and Türkiye is the business sector. Both countries excel in complementing each other rather than competing with one another in this sector.
Saudi Arabia has abundant energy products and basic materials for industries that meet Türkiye’s needs, while Turkish products and the contracting sector find a favorable market in the Kingdom to meet its growing demands in the construction sector, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.
During the past year, between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Türkiye and the current visit by the Turkish President, two investment forums were held, one in Istanbul and the other in Riyadh, resulting in several agreements aimed at supporting the business sector, expanding bilateral trade, and increasing trade exchange.
Both Saudi Arabia and Türkiye possess significant economic potential as members of the G20. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 presents promising opportunities for cooperation between the two countries in areas such as investment, trade, tourism, entertainment, development, industry, mining, construction projects, transportation, and infrastructure.
The Kingdom’s attractive business environment has successfully attracted 390 Turkish companies to invest in the Saudi market, with a total capital of nearly SAR 1 billion. These Turkish companies are active in several sectors, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and restaurants.
Both the Saudi and Turkish sides are continuously working on developing and diversifying bilateral trade, facilitating trade exchanges, overcoming any obstacles in this regard, and intensifying communication between the public and private sectors.
This is aimed at exploring investment opportunities and translating them into tangible partnerships in various fields.
The countries are striving to collaborate in encouraging direct investment, as evidenced by the signing of an agreement in this area.
They also organized the Turkish-Saudi Business and Investment Forum in December 2022, with the goal of highlighting promising cooperation opportunities for Turkish companies in the massive projects that the Kingdom will undertake as part of Vision 2030. This was followed by the Saudi-Turkish Business Forum in March in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia and Türkiye, as two important nations in the region and the world, are committed to cooperation in all fields and mutual support for ambitious projects, ideas, and initiatives globally.
Türkiye has generously supported Riyadh’s bid to host Expo 2030 and has also supported the Kingdom’s efforts in tackling climate change.
Türkiye also welcomed the launch of Saudi Arabia’s Green Saudi Arabia and Green Middle East initiatives, as well as the implementation of the circular carbon economy approach introduced by the Kingdom and endorsed by the leaders of the G20.
Furthermore, both Saudi Arabia and Türkiye have renewed their commitment to the principles of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.
On another note, the role of the Saudi-Turkish Coordination Council aims to enhance and develop relations between the two countries in various fields, including politics, economy, trade, energy, agriculture, culture, education, technology, and military and security industries.
The Council held its first meeting in February 2017 in Ankara, and the second meeting is expected to take place in Riyadh this year.
Türkiye continues to grapple with an economic crisis compounded by the costs of the earthquake damage. Saudi Arabia has taken the initiative to provide humanitarian support and aid to the Turkish economy through a $5 billion deposit in March last year. Are there any further financial assistance or loans that Riyadh will offer to Ankara?
The Kingdom topped the list of donors in response to the earthquake that occurred in Türkiye this year.
Saudi Arabia directed generous support, as per the leadership’s directives, by launching a medical and relief aid airlift.
Additionally, popular donation campaigns were organized, and contracts were signed for projects benefiting the earthquake victims, amounting to over $48.8 million.
These efforts are ongoing, and undoubtedly, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will continue to stand by its brothers and sisters in Türkiye, guided by its firm principles.
Saudi efforts will persist in supporting Türkiye and those affected in earthquake-stricken areas in southern Türkiye and northern Syria.
The Ukrainian crisis has witnessed numerous international mediation initiatives aimed at finding a political solution to the deadly conflict between Moscow and Kyiv. One of these initiatives was the Saudi initiative in late February of last year.
Given Türkiye’s geopolitical position in the Black Sea region, will there be a Saudi-Turkish role within a unified diplomatic framework to extinguish the flames of this crisis?
Saudi Arabia and Türkiye agree that resolving the crisis between Russia and Ukraine should be a top priority for the international community. They share the perspective that the crisis should be resolved in accordance with UN resolutions and international norms, in the best interest of international peace.
Both countries recognize that the current global situation is fragile and cannot afford major and complex crises like the one between Russia and Ukraine.
The Kingdom has presented several initiatives for mediation between Russia and Ukraine, while Türkiye has successfully mediated to maintain the grain agreement since the beginning of the crisis.
The alignment of visions and perspectives between Saudi Arabia and Türkiye regarding the Russian-Ukrainian crisis provides an opportunity for them to work together as influential global states in encouraging both parties to end the crisis.
How does Riyadh view the Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement and its impact on the region?
Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest supporters of improving relations in the region and among all countries in it.
The resumption of Saudi-Iranian relations and Syria’s return to the Arab League serve as evidence of the Kingdom’s efforts to bridge perspectives in the Middle East and make the region one of the safest in the world.
Saudi Arabia firmly believes that peace and security are top priorities and that true development in the Middle East cannot be achieved without reinforcing security and fostering exceptional relationships among regional countries.
The Kingdom has issued a supportive statement regarding the improvement of relations between Türkiye and Egypt.
Undoubtedly, Saudi Arabia sees this rapprochement as a new opportunity to create a better atmosphere in the region, as an important part of the push towards a secure Middle East.