In his second visit since the unjust siege imposed on Qatar in June, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Doha on Tuesday to discuss bilateral relations, regional issues and the latest developments in the region.
The Turkish president will also co-chair with His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani the third session of the Qatar-Turkey Supreme Strategic Committee.
Qatar-Turkey Supreme Strategic Committee was established under the leadership of the Emir and the Turkish President to act as an important mechanism for strengthening bilateral relations between Qatar and Turkey in all fields. Through joint meetings of the committee, the best ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries are explored.
The committee has played a major and catalytic role in the development of economic relations between the two countries since its inception. The committee meetings resulted in more qualitative relations between the two countries, which opened new horizons for co-operation between them at the official level and between businessmen and investors as well as economic, commercial and industrial institutions in both countries.
Qatar is the third and last leg of a tour of President Erdogan which started at the beginning of this week with a visit to the Russian city of Sochi and followed by Kuwait. Turkish president is accompanied by a high-level ministerial delegation comprising Turkish ministers of transportation, agriculture, tourism and justice. It is expected that during the meetings of the Qatar-Turkey Supreme Strategic Committee about 14 agreements and memoranda of understanding between the two countries, including economic, cultural, defence, banking and cyber security as well as food and agricultural security will be signed.
In addition an agreement to protect investments and another related to twinning between Hamad Port and Turkish ports as well as other fields will be signed - taking the number of agreements signed between the two sides to about 40 covering all areas of vital co-operation.
President Erdogan's visit to Qatar comes within the framework of the growing and distinguished relations of co-operation between the two countries in various fields. Turkey has taken the initiative since the outbreak of the Gulf crisis and the imposition of an unjust siege on Qatar and sent the rapid dispatch of foodstuffs and basic needs to Qatar's citizens and residents. Especially since a large proportion of foodstuffs were imported from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates through the only land port with the kingdom.
The Ministries of Economy and Trade of the two countries established a rapid operations room to provide the basic needs of the Qatari market to compensate for the shortage of these materials and their availability in the Qatari market. In less than 48 hours, the two countries were able to provide these needs through an airlift from Turkey to Qatar, where they reached markets, shops and supermarkets, which prevented any shortage of these materials in the Qatari market.
Qatari, Turkish and Iranian officials agreed to launch the Qatar-Turkey route through Iran in a move to boost trade between the two countries. The agreement will be signed soon between the transport ministers of the three countries, Turkish ambassador to Qatar Fikret Ozer said.
The ambassador said in a press statement to Qatari newspaper Arrayah that the motive behind this agreement is to provide the basic needs of the people of Qatar. He stressed that the land route will save a lot in terms of time and price because the sea lines take more time, and the cost of airlines is higher and does not suit all the needs and goods. Fikret Ozer pointed out that the inauguration of the land route will have a clear impact on the price reduction of products, whereas this route will help facilitate the arrival of Turkish goods and products to the State of Qatar.
The Turkish exports to Qatar have increased three times more than usual to reach $32.5mn since the beginning of the unjust siege, where these exports increased during last June to 51.5% on month-on-month (MoM) basis. The food items, fruits, vegetables, animal products and water topped the Turkish export list.
The ambassador said no one has the right to blame Qatar, Turkey or Iran for their efforts to provide the basic needs of the Qataris and the residents of Qatar, because they are daily food needs for more than 2mn people living in Qatar, which makes it a humanitarian issue that should not be discussed.
The relations between Doha and Ankara have reached great levels thanks to the communication that has been achieved between both nations and the joint political will of both leaderships to work together. The Qatari investments in Turkey between 2011 and 2016 was valued at $1.29bn. In addition, there is a high desire for Qatari investors to invest in Turkey as a natural result of the great political relations between both countries, and the positive development that the Turkish economy has achieved in many aspects, as well as the role this economy plays regionally and globally during the past 15 years.
Turkey ranks 13th among the largest economies in the world, and is the fifth largest economy in Europe on purchasing power parity, whereas in the first and second quarters of 2017, the Turkish economy achieved growth rates of 5 and 5.1%, respectively. It is expected that these rates will double in the third quarter, and Turkey will achieve a yearly growth rate of 5.5% in the coming three years. Turkey enjoys a unique foreign investments feature as it has an open gate to Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia and is able to quickly reach to the biggest markets in the world.
In light of the latest updates and the developing relations between both countries, Turkey has become a strategic ally to Qatar, and it goes without saying that the Qatari government and people appreciate Turkey's stance before and after the siege. Both countries have signed a defence agreement in 2014 to establish a Turkish base in Qatar, in aim to strengthen Qatar's defense capabilities and promote the region's security, without hostility against any party.
The agreement was on the working agenda of the Turkish parliament since the signing date, and in last June it was ratified by the parliament and signed by President Erdogan and began to be implemented. The Qatari and Turkish visions agree on principles, foundations and understandings with handling international relations, which is a peaceful way to settle crises and international disputes, including that of the GCC.
The Turkish president held a Gulf tour last July which included Qatar, within the efforts exerted to settle the Gulf crisis using dialogue and diplomatic methods. Since the beginning of the crisis, Turkey has mediated for a solution through intensified diplomatic calls held by the Turkish president with a number of countries, where he confirmed the need to resolve the crisis through dialogue and negotiations.