Turkey is striving to develop its relations with Latin American and Caribbean countries, said the head of the Turkish parliamentary delegation attending a regional meeting on Saturday.
"The Turkish Parliament strives to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between the Latin American countries and Turkey through friendship groups and the structural relations it has established with regional parliaments, including Parlatino," Ali Şahin, a Turkish deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said at the 36th General Assembly of the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (Parlatino).
The Turkish delegation led by Şahin attended the Parlatino meeting in Panama on Feb. 10-12 as an observer.
Parlatino is a regional, permanent organization comprised of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
This was the first time that a Turkish delegation addressed the lawmakers of 23 Latin American and Caribbean countries at the Parlatino General Assembly.
The process, which started with the application of the Turkish Parliament to join Parlatino as an observer state in 2015, was crowned with a cooperation agreement signed in Ankara, the Turkish capital, on Oct. 11, 2021, said Şahin.
"In the new period that started with the signing of this deal, we want to develop the relations between the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the Latin American Parliament in every possible field," he said.
The Turkish Parliament, which is aware of the important role that parliamentary diplomacy plays across the world, is taking an active stance to enhance ties with Latin America, Şahin stated.
He stressed that Turkey is determined to establish an effective cooperation mechanism at the parliamentary level against the common challenges Turkey and Latin American countries face.
"We believe that the Latin America and Caribbean region is a natural and strong partner for Turkey," Şahin said.
Turkey, which was represented by only six diplomatic missions in the region in 2002, currently has 17 embassies in the Latin America and Caribbean region, while Latin American countries are represented in Ankara with 16 diplomatic missions, he said.
Şahin also said that Turkey and Latin America have great potential to develop economic ties.
The trade volume between Turkey and the whole region, which was around $1 billion in 2002, reached $15 billion by the end of 2021, he said.