Turkey tries to foster close link with Arab world

19:13, June 10, 2010      

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Leaders and businessmen from Turkey and Arab countries started the 5th Turkish-Arab Economic Forum here Thursday in a bid to enhance cooperation in trade and investment.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa attended the two-day forum.

Ministers from Turkey, Syria, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are also present at the meeting with an aim of building stronger links between the two sides.

Addressing more than 400 participants at the meeting, Erdogan expressed the political will of his government to promote Turkey's relations with Arab countries, saying that Turkey and Arab countries share common history, culture and civilization.

"Turkey can not live without the Arab world," he added.

This meeting is held a few days after the Israeli raid of humanitarian ships which killed eight Turkish citizens. The meeting will discuss challenges and opportunities from a regional perspective.

Hariri expressed his thanks to Turkey for supporting struggles in Lebanon and the frequent visits between the two countries in recent years.

He said his country is open to other countries including Turkey for investment.

Moussa said that Arab countries stand with Turkey and will consolidate solidarity with it, adding that they share not only common vision but also common interest. "It is time for us to take sound decisions."

The Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said that free trade agreements between Turkey and Arab countries would not only raise welfare but also contribute to peace.

Simsek said trade between Turkey and Arab countries was up by four-folds between 2002 and 2009, but it still has lots of potentials.

"We should allocate sources for R&D and infrastructure as well as human resources, and this is the key to reach long-term stability," Simsek said.

The Turkish Arab Cooperation Forum was founded under a Framework Agreement signed on Nov. 3, 2007 by Turkish foreign minister and the AL chief.

The Arabic world, extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf with a population of around 350 million people, has a special place in the heart of the Turkish business world, said Rifat Hisarciklioglu, president of the Executive Board of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB).

At a time when the balance of power is being re-shaped, it is the common wish of the Turkish business community to see an Arab world which has solved its regional problems, Hisarciklioglu stressed.

"We want to establish cooperation with the Arab world in all fields by maximum cooperation and integration," Hisarciklioglu said.

As the business world, we favor the establishment of permanent peace and stability in the region, Hisarciklioglu said.

Economic relations between Turkey and Arab countries developed significantly in the past several years, Hisarciklioglu noted, adding "there are things we must do in order to continue this nice trend."

"We must first of all modernize the transportation network among our countries. Secondly, we must establish a strong banking system among our countries. We need to create a joint barter bank. Accordingly, we can reduce the dependency of Turkish and Arab businessmen on foreign banks. We can preserve the financial resources of the region in the region," Hisarciklioglu said.

"We invite Arab companies and investment funds to make more investments in Turkey. Let us work together to turn our region into one of peace, stability and welfare," He added.

Source: Xinhua


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