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Symposium on “Turkish-GCC Relations: Vision and Prospects”

26 Nov 2023

Symposium on “Turkish-GCC Relations: Vision and Prospects”

26 Nov 2023

As part of its activities on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2023, TRENDS Research and Advisory organized a symposium titled “Turkish-GCC Relations: Vision and Prospects” on 26 November 2023, with the participation of experts in Turkish affairs.

The symposium included two sessions discussing the future of relations between Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and mapping out interactions between the two sides in economic, political, cultural, and security fields.

H.E. Tugay Tunçer, Turkish Ambassador to the UAE, delivered the keynote speech at the symposium. He emphasized that the concept of a “new era of partnership” better reflects the current situation between Turkey and the GCC countries. In addition to bilateral relations, there are institutional ties with the GCC that have been ongoing for over two decades. Ambassador Tunçer mentioned that the strategic dialogue mechanism between Turkey and the GCC, established in 2008, has laid the groundwork for deepening relations in all fields. He also highlighted the importance of ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two parties.

The Turkish Ambassador affirmed that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between Turkey and the UAE, which came into effect on 1 September 2023, serves as a model for the region. He concluded by emphasizing the strong mutual will to revitalize relations between Turkey and the GCC countries based on new pillars of regional security, stability, and prosperity.‪‪

In the first session, moderated by Ersoy Erkazanci, Dubai Correspondent at Bloomberg HT, the discussion focused on the future of relations between Turkey and the GCC. Dr. Khalifa Al-Suwaidi, a research fellow at the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, highlighted the ups and downs in Turkish-GCC relations, emphasizing the potential and growing mutual interests, whether economic, security-related, or otherwise. He noted that economic diplomacy could play a significant role not only in enhancing bilateral relations but also in achieving prosperity for the entire region.

In the second session, Dr. Serhat Süha Çubukçoğlu, senior researcher at TRENDS Research and Advisory, aimed to chart the relations between Turkey and the GCC countries. He pointed out that both sides prioritize economic relations and bridge-building efforts amidst turbulent geopolitical conditions and emphasized that geography serves as an enabling factor as it connects three regions: the Arabian Gulf, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Black Sea.

Dr. Çubukçoğlu explained that Turkey has positioned itself as an alternative industrial center for emerging markets in the Middle East, becoming a technologically advanced country and a member of the G20. He added that the GCC countries have distinct capabilities in various sectors, including transportation and logistics, while Turkey possesses significant industrial, defense, and tourism capabilities. There is clear cooperation between the two sides in knowledge transfer, managerial skills, as well as the exchange of raw materials and manufactured goods.

Furthermore, Dr. Çubukçoğlu discussed the economic cooperation between the UAE and Turkey, affirming that it continues to grow with the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The UAE is considered the largest investor in Turkey among the GCC countries, and bilateral trade volume is expected to increase from USD 18 billion to USD 40 billion in the next five years.

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