Turkey does not seek to establish Middle East Union
Sweden, Stockholm, Jan.14 / Trend U. Sadikhova /
Establishing a visa-free regime with the Arab countries and the expansion of economic partnership is not talking about Turkey's efforts to create an alliance with Middle Eastern neighbors, to counterbalance the EU, Halil Karaveli, Senior Researcher at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, based in Stockholm, believes.
According to Karaveli, the EU remains Ankara's main economic partner.
"European countries are the Turkish market's main importers. Although establishment of regional unions become popular in recent years, I do not think that Turkey will take such a step in the relations with the Arab countries," Karaveli, Swedish analyst of the Turkish origin, Chief Editor of the "Turkey analyst" magazine, said in an interview with Trend correspondent.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, answering to journalists' questions during an official visit to Qatar, has not confirmed Ankara's intentions to turn the Middle East in union similar to the European.
Erdogan held one-on-one talks with the Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Muhammad Al Thani. Later, talks were held between delegations.
"Turkey and Qatar, uniting their efforts can contribute to the solution of many problems in the region," TRT Russian quotes Erdogan, as saying.
Relations between Turkey and Arab countries have impetuously improved over the past two years. This led to the cancellation of the visa regime and the establishment of the intergovernmental commission between Turkey and Arab countries on improving economic and political cooperation.
At present, Turkey's priority in the development of the cooperation with the Middle East countries, according to Karaveli, is to expand economic contacts, which is unlikely to give impetus to fundamental political changes in the region. This, according to him, does not meet the interests of the Turkish diplomacy.
"Turkey is not going to pursue its foreign policy unilaterally, or with specific countries. Ankara, preserving ties with the EU, simultaneously establishes contacts in the Caucasus, the Middle East, and recently in Central Asia," Karaveli said. "This is a natural, given the economic potential and geographic location of Turkey," he added.
At the same time, Turkey, according to the analyst, should act carefully in establishing relations with Iran and involvement in the Iranian nuclear program, as this can cause dissatisfaction of Sunni Arab countries like Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
"It will be difficult for Turkey, who becomes closer with Iran, to establish full relations with the Sunni Arab world. Therefore, Turkey is trying to keep a balance with all partners in the region at this stage," the expert believes.
Regarding Ankara's relations with non-Arab state in the region, Israel, Karaveli doubts that they will be improved soon.
"Relations between Turkey and Israel are very much damaged to be restored in the near future. Definitely in the current Turkish government the Turkish-Israeli relations will not be improved," Karaveli said.
Relations between Turkey and Israel, who closely cooperated in the military-political sphere until recently, worsened after the Israeli military's attack on the "Flotilla of Freedom" humanitarian convoy on May 31 last year, which carried humanitarian aid to Gaza. After the attack, which killed nine Turks, Ankara announced about a review of relations with Tel Aviv and demanded an official apology for the attack and compensation for the families of the dead Turks.
A hope for the restoration of bilateral relations emerged in December last year when Turkey sent two aircrafts to help to Israel in combating large forest fires that killed at least 41 people.
However, later, Turkish officials stated that Ankara will restore relations with Israel only after the country's official apology, but Tel Aviv refused.