Turkey aims to further enhance its relations with all Gulf countries in addition to Qatar, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday, before heading to Doha to attend a high-level committee meeting.
Speaking to reporters at the airport, Erdoğan said Turkey aims to maintain and strengthen its solidarity and unity with all Gulf countries.
"We welcome all diplomatic efforts directed toward reopening doors of dialogue and eliminating misunderstandings," Erdoğan said.
Last month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), as Turkey and the UAE seek to repair their relations and increase economic cooperation. The visit by the crown prince, seen as the de facto leader and the force behind the UAE’s foreign policy posture, was his first official trip to Turkey since 2012, and the highest-level visit by an Emirati official since relations hit a low as the countries have battled for regional influence and backed opposing sides in conflicts. The crown prince’s visit to Turkey was viewed as part of a wider effort by the UAE to recalibrate its foreign policy following an unsuccessful attempt to isolate fellow Gulf state Qatar in 2017.
Turkish officials described MBZ's visit as the "beginning of a new era" following years of hostility after Ankara blamed the UAE for financing the 2016 coup plotters in Turkey and undermining Turkish interests in Libya. The UAE media also said that the visit will carry the relations between Turkey and Arab countries into a new period.
Praising strong relations with Qatar, the president said the two countries signed some 69 agreements in the military, political, economic and cultural spheres, in line with the history of friendly relations. He highlighted that both countries are special in the sense that they have been able to preserve their stance in the face of regional obstacles in the past several years.
He said Turkey and Qatar will further enhance ties with more agreements to be signed on Tuesday following the committee meeting with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha.
Erdoğan will also visit the joint military command headquarters in Doha and speak with soldiers and commanders.
Turkey, an ally of Qatar, rushed to support Doha amid the embargo imposed by the UAE and three Arab states in 2017 and has since deepened its military ties with Qatar. The Arab quartet at the time demanded a series of reversals by Qatar, including the expulsion of Turkish troops, but Doha rejected the demands, which it saw as violations of its sovereignty. The dispute was resolved earlier this year with an agreement signed in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Turkey had welcomed the outcome of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting, asserting that "the expression of common will to resolve the Gulf dispute and the announcement of the restoration of diplomatic relations with Qatar at the end of the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council held today in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, is a welcome development."
The president noted that Ankara and Doha have been holding discussions with the Taliban about the operation of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport.
He said that the Taliban has made promises regarding women's rights and education.
"They have made some pledges on the status of women in social life and children's education. We hope that they keep these promises," Erdoğan said. He continued by saying that Ankara also hopes the Taliban takes concrete steps to connect with the world.
While noting that Turkey and Qatar have been discussing Kabul airport, Erdoğan said women's rights and education issues are sensitive and prioritized subjects for Ankara.
The Turkish government has taken a pragmatic approach to the recent events in Afghanistan. Underlining that new realities have emerged in Afghanistan, Ankara said it would move forward accordingly while keeping communication with all relevant actors open.
The president also criticized the Greek Cypriot administration for failing to take action to stop attacks targeting mosques.
"The same way Turkey prioritizes the protection of churches and other places of worship, we expect the Greek Cypriot administration to protect mosques against attacks," Erdoğan said. He continued by saying that those who carry out such acts of sabotage will pay a heavy price.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Ersin Tatar also slammed the recent arson attempt on the Grand Mosque in the Greek-administered city of Larnaca. Tatar condemned the attack and called on the Greek Cypriot administration to prevent such attacks and arrest those responsible.
Earlier in the day, the TRNC's Presidency of Religious Affairs confirmed in a statement that the attack took place on Dec. 2. No casualties have been reported, and police have arrested at least one suspect.