The Development of UAE-Turkey Relations

  • 28 December 2010

UAE Foreign Minister His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s recent visit to Turkey was an important step in the direction of developing a close Emirati-Turkish relationship. During a press conference with his Turkish counterpart His Highness confirmed that the objective of this visit is to develop trade and economic ties between the two sides and that an agreement has been reached to put more effort into developing cooperation in areas of trade, economy, renewable energy, banking and tourism.

UAE gives significant attention to its relations with Turkey and is keen to support and develop cooperation in all fields as Turkey is one of the major regional powers with political and economic clout in the Middle East. A common cooperation committee was formed in November to further this relationship. The volume of trade between the two sides reached $9 billion in 2008 and the UAE is the third largest export market for Turkey. This clearly shows that a solid foundation of mutual interests already exists between the two sides which form an essential basis of the UAE foreign policy. Authorities in the UAE are always keen to develop relations with different countries based on solid foundations of interests.

The UAE is laying emphasis on its relations with Turkey at a time when the latter has also expressed the desire to develop its ties with the UAE. The evidence of this has been Turkish officials’ visits to the UAE and cooperation on projects that have been agreed upon in addition to the Turkish appreciation of the UAE’s policy and its development model. It is hence worth mentioning the statement issued by Turkish president Abdulla Gul on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the UAE. He said that the UAE’s leadership has made the country an oasis of security and stability which always takes the lead in development programs.

Perhaps what adds a new dimension to the UAE-Turkey ties is the Turkish interest in boosting cooperation with the GCC countries in particular and the Arab countries in general in recent years. A plan has been put in place for a free trade agreement between Turkey and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. Turkey joined the League of Arab States as an observer years ago and, in addition to that, there has been some sort of a tangible Turkish involvement in the Middle East issues. There has also been a clear Turkish support on Arab issues, especially the Palestinian conflict.

Turkey represents a bridge between the East and West. It is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and NATO. It is also seeking membership of the European Union which adds great strategic importance to the country and makes it a key player in the region. All these factors are behind the Emirati move to further develop its relationship with Turkey and give it special attention. This also reveals the vitality of the UAE’s foreign policy in its regional and international context.