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From multi-faceted enemies to easing relations, has Turkey’s diplomacy shifted?

From multi-faceted enemies to easing relations, has Turkey's diplomacy shifted?

Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry (right) and visiting Greek Foreign Minister Dendias sign a maritime boundary agreement between the two countries in Cairo, Egypt, August 6, 2020, and will establish an exclusive maritime economic zone. Turkey's Foreign Ministry said the same day that the agreement is "invalid" and that Turkey will not allow any activities in the relevant areas.

Istanbul, May 12 Turkish Foreign Minister Chavush Olu met with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca on The 11th. It was the first visit by a Turkish foreign minister to Saudi Arabia in recent years and the latest move by Turkey to ease diplomatic relations with Middle Eastern countries.

Analysts say Turkey’s diplomatic efforts to improve relations with Middle Eastern countries are aimed at breaking the current isolation in the region and addressing the dire economic situation.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, July 6, 2020.

Ease relations

Tensions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been strained over the past decade, particularly after the killing of Saudi journalist Kasuji at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018.

Recently, however, relations have begun to pick up. In a telephone call last November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi King Salman agreed to further develop bilateral relations and keep channels of dialogue open to resolve the issue. According to media reports, Erdogan and Salman have spoken by phone twice since April. During his visit to Saudi Arabia, Chavushoglu told the media that the two countries continue bilateral dialogue.

Egypt is another important target of Turkey’s diplomatic prations. Relations between the two countries deteriorated after the ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and diplomatic relations were downgraded. The two sides also have conflicts over Libya and the exploitation of oil and gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

Recently, Turkish-Egyptian relations began to thaw. The two countries issued a joint statement on the 6th, said the two diplomatic delegations held two days of “exploratory talks” in Cairo, bilateral relations and the situation in Libya, Syria, Iraq and other regional issues held “candid and in-depth” discussions. The parties will assess the outcome of this round of consultations and agree on the next steps.

Break the isolation

Analysts believe that Turkey has previously had a bad relationship with the Middle East, in the region into a state of diplomatic isolation. The Turkish government’s recent efforts to ease relations with the two countries are aimed at breaking this isolation.

Turkey’s previous expansionary policies have undermined the trust of arab partners, says Serkan Demirtash, a Turkish foreign policy expert. Such isolation has forced the Turkish government to overhaul its foreign policy.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are traditional Arab powers that exert significant influence throughout the Arab world and in many regional affairs. First of all, improving relations with the two countries will help Turkey open up the situation as soon as possible.

Batu Joshkun, an independent Researcher In Turkey, Said A Broad Strategic Shift Was Taking Place In The Middle East And That Turkey’S Easing Of Relations With Egypt And Saudi Arabia Was A Pragmatic Move.

Economic considerations

In addition to breaking diplomatic isolation, Turkey’s quest to ease relations with regional countries is also motivated by the need to get rid of current economic difficulties.

In recent years, Turkey has been affected by a variety of internal and external factors, economic difficulties, financial market turmoil, especially the serious exchange rate crisis in 2018. The Coronavirus outbreak since last year has hit the Turkish economy further, leading to high unemployment and high inflation.

A restaurant in a closed dining area is pictured in Istanbul, Turkey, on May reporter Xu Quick-pictured)

Ismail Numan Terji, vice president of the Turkish Middle East Research Center, said Turkey’s economic impact since 2018 from the Turkish-American divide continues, and that Turkey needs to look at the markets of neighboring countries in addition to traditional trading partners such as China, Russia and the European Union. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are large economies in the region, and Turkey needs to consider improving relations with the two countries for economic gain.

Terji also pointed out that Saudi Arabia in recent years by low oil prices, the crisis in Yemen, the Coronavirus outbreak and other factors, the economic situation is not good, while Egypt’s economy has been poor since 2013, is also currently affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. Therefore, the two countries also have the will to improve relations with Turkey and strengthen economic cooperation.

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