DOHA: Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc yesterday said that Turkey’s relations with Qatar were based on strong historic and cultural bonds and Turkey considered Qatar a partner in the region, stressing that the security of the GCC benefits Turkey.
In an interview with Al Sharq newspaper, Arinc noted that bilateral cooperation between the two countries covered the political, economic, cultural, defence and tourism sectors. He said dialogue at the highest level was nurturing stronger bilateral relations and cooperation on regional issues.
He thanked the Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani for attending the inauguration of Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the new president of Turkey last evening.
The Emir also attended a dinner banquet hosted by Erdogan in honour of the heads of state and other leaders.
The Turkish deputy premier noted that the Emir had visited Turkey twice earlier this year, in February and July. Erdogan’s last visit to Qatar was as prime minister, in December 2013.
Dwelling further on bilateral relations, Arinc said Turkey viewed its relations with Qatar as strategic. He added that Turkey was looking to bolster ties in the military, economic, investment and agricultural fields. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the level of bilateral trade, which stood at $862m last year. He said the two countries were working on taking bilateral trade past the $1bn mark.
He said the Turkish government was in close contact with Qatar on regional issues such as the Palestinian issue and developments in Syria and Iraq. Bilateral cooperation with Qatar helps bring stability, peace and development a step closer in the region, he added.
On the Syrian crisis, he said that the Syrian people had been subjected to unprecedented violence that had claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people. More than half the Syrian population, he added, was living without basic amenities and more than three million people were seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Syrian refugees in Turkey numbered more than a million and the cost of hosting them had crossed the $3bn mark, he said.