Ankara, Riyadh deepen parliamentary relations, explore ways to expand cooperation

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ANKARA: Turkey and Saudi Arabia are preparing to continue the ongoing normalization of their relations with the latest talks between members of inter-parliamentary friendship groups taking place in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The Turkish delegation is planning another visit to Jeddah on Thursday evening to meet officials and businessmen.

This visit is an important step towards the institutionalization of ties between the two countries, which are ready to expand their avenues of cooperation.

The chairman of the Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Group, Halil Ozcan, and his accompanying delegation were welcomed by the head of the Shoura Council, Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-ASheikh.

The council began its new session on October 16 and welcomed the Turkey-Saudi Arabia friendship group as the first foreign delegation.

In the near future, the role of the group will be to further strengthen parliamentary relations and institutionalize state-to-state ties.

“This visit will soon be followed by a delegation of parliamentarians from the Kingdom. We invited them to Turkey to discuss different political projects together in the coming period,” Ozcan told Arab News.

“We also met Turkish businessmen working in the Kingdom, and they said they were beginning to see the positive impact of the normalization of bilateral relations on their own businesses,” he added.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have also expressed interest in joining the BRICS International Forum.

“Tense diplomatic and political relations in recent years have certainly weighed on economic cooperation and commercial engagement between the two countries,” Dr. Robert C. Mogielnicki, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute, told Arab News. in Washington.

“Bilateral trade flows, Saudi investments in Turkey and Saudi tourists visiting Turkey are all areas that have significant room for improvement, provided Riyadh and Ankara are willing to foster and encourage greater economic exchanges.” , he added.

Mogielnicki said Turkish construction companies are eager to participate in various Saudi megaprojects.

“And, of course, Saudi Arabia brings strong credentials in energy cooperation with foreign partners,” he added.

On the day of the visit, the Middle East’s largest broadcaster, Saudi MBC Group, announced that it had signed a five-year partnership with two Turkish production companies – Medyapim and Ay Yapim – to share popular Turkish content. as well as original content in Arabic. dramas produced for the Middle East and North Africa region in the coming years.

In official meetings in June, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said there was an investment opportunity worth $3.3 trillion between the two countries. Keen to increase their bilateral business activities, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are also planning to hold a business forum in Turkey, the details of which were discussed at the last meeting.

In the first nine months of 2022, Turkey’s exports to Saudi Arabia increased by 180% and reached over $420 million.

Dr. Gokhan Cinkara, an expert from Necmettin Erbakan University, believes that strengthening institutional ties provides a necessary basis for the development of regional cooperation projects between the two countries.

“This visit is a good opportunity to test the depth of bilateral relations on several fronts,” he told Arab News.

According to Cinkara, the most important avenue of cooperation between the two countries seems to be the defense industry.

“Turkey’s purchase of necessary defense equipment that meets Saudi Arabia’s domestic needs will be a good start to develop ties and build a common defense front against current and growing security threats in the region,” did he declare.

Following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the Kingdom earlier this year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Ankara in June when the two countries announced they had lifted restrictions on several fronts, including trade, theft and the media.

Cinkara expects Turkey and Saudi Arabia to take steps to curb Iranian influence in the region in the coming period.

“The establishment of a joint intelligence mechanism can be expected to counteract the geostrategic instability that Iran has been producing in the region for a long time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Turkey and Saudi Arabia recently helped mediate a prisoner swap deal between Ukraine and Russia.

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