The common goal of Turkey and Israel is to revive bilateral political dialogue based on common interests, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday.
The historic visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog will be a “new turning point” in relations, Erdogan told a joint news conference.
“Our common goal with Israel is to revive the political dialogue between our countries based on common interests, respect for mutual sensitivities,” he said.
Expressing his appreciation for his Israeli counterpart’s visit to Turkey, Erdogan said strengthening the ties with Israel is of great importance for regional stability and peace as well as for the two countries.
The Turkish president also expressed to his Israeli counterpart the importance of reducing the tensions in the region and the significance of preserving the vision of a two-state solution.
“It is in our hands to contribute to the re-establishment of a culture of peace, tranquility, and coexistence in our region,” Erdogan noted.
He went on to say: “It will also be easier for us to deal with the issues on which we disagree as long as we can enhance our bilateral cooperation and regional dialogue through a positive agenda.”
– Energy, economic cooperation
Stressing the importance of potential bilateral cooperation in various fields, particularly in economic and commercial relations, Erdogan said: “Despite the pandemic, our trade volume expanded by 6 and reached $8.5 billion last year. I believe we will increase this figure to $10 billion in 2022 through joint efforts.”
He also underlined that Turkey has the experience and capacity to implement such projects, adding: “I expressed to Mr. President (Herzog) that we are ready to cooperate in projects to be carried out in the fields of energy and energy security. Recent developments in our region have once again demonstrated the importance of energy security.”
“We have serious cooperation opportunities in fields such as tourism, science, advanced technology, agriculture, health, and defense industry,” he added.
– Anti-Semitism ‘crime against humanity’
Erdogan underlined the importance that Turkey gives to the historical status of Jerusalem and the preservation of the religious identity and sanctity of the Masjid al-Aqsa.
The Turkish president also drew attention to ”the importance of improving the social and economic conditions of the Palestinians.”
Reiterating that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity, he added that Turks and Jews have lived together throughout history.
“We will continue to maintain our determined and principled stance in the fight against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism,” he added.
Erdogan also said the leaders exchanged views on current, regional, and international issues, particularly Ukraine and the Eastern Mediterranean, saying the Turkish foreign minister’s visits to Palestine and Israel, as well as the energy minister’s visit to Israel, are of great importance.
– Herzog stresses historical, cultural roots of bilateral ties
Herzog for his part said the aim is to lay foundations for the development of friendly relations between Turkey, Israel, and the peoples of the two countries.
“Israel and Turkey can and should engage in a cooperation that will impact this region we all call home,” Herzog said.
“The Turkish foreign minister will visit Israel next month and will hold talks with the Israeli foreign minister, and this will enable the continuation of the dialogue,” he added.
Noting that the relationship between the peoples of the two countries has very strong historical, religious, and cultural roots, Herzog said a distinguished list of figures, including many Jewish men and women leaders, poets, and merchants, are all part of the Jewish history in the country.
Stressing that members of all religions can and should live together in peace in the region, Herzog said: “I wish that we work together to establish stability, prosperity, peace, and security in the region.”
The Israeli president also said his visit to Turkey is the continuation of dialogue and connection since he took office last July.
Herzog continued his speech by quoting a Turkish poem, On living, by prominent Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet.
“We, two peoples, two countries, choose to embark on a journey of trust and respect that will involve an in-depth dialogue in all areas.”
Both nations are “children of the Prophet Abraham,” he said.
“I believe that all of us, members of all religions, Christians, Jews, and Muslims can and should live side by side in peace with each other in this beautiful region,” he said.
Noting that the recent weeks have shown “how bad the wars are,” Herzog stressed the importance of building bridges between countries and peoples for a stable world order.
Praising Turkey’s efforts for the trilateral meeting with Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers to be held in Antalya on Thursday, he said: “I also greatly appreciate your efforts that led to the summit that will be held in your country tomorrow.”
Following the joint news conference, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted a dinner for the Israeli president.
Herzog’s visit, the first by an Israeli head of state in many years, is seen as a step towards moving from a period of strained ties to improved relations with Turkey.