Erdogan aims to boost bilateral ties during Asia trip

Erdogan aims to boost bilateral ties during Asia trip
# 28 July 2015 20:17 (UTC +04:00)

Along with trade meetings, he said that a forum will be also held between local businessmen and those accompanying him from Turkey, with some agreements already waiting to be signed.

"I believe during the talks we will take key steps in Turkey -China cooperation both in infrastructure and superstructure,"Erdogan said at Ankara's Esenboga Airport prior to flying to China, where he will be from July 28-30

The trip is Erdogan's first to the country as president, and follows a previous visit in 2012 as prime minister. Since his first election win of 2003, diplomatic relations -- established between the two countries in 1971 -- have improved significantly, peaking over the last 10 years through high-level bilateral visits.

In 2010, the two countries adopted a “Joint Declaration on the Establishment and Development of the Strategic Relationship of Cooperation,” and bilateral trade -- at $1 billion in 2000 -- is now estimated to have surpassed more then $24 billion.

On Tuesday, Erdogan stated that talks between the two countries will also cover issues related to Turkey's G20 term presidency, which China will inherit Jan. 1.

Asked if a long-range air and anti-missile defense system -- which was put up for tender in 2009 -- will be discussed during the trip, Erdogan admitted to some setbacks but said that further discussions would be held.

Turkey is currently negotiating the building of the system with several countries, however NATO has come out in opposition to a Chinese bid -- the lowest -- of $3.5 billion.

The president underlined that "China was the country that made the best bid," adding that Turkey would welcome any offer that enhances it.

Ismet Yilmaz, former defense minister, has said that Turkey would integrate such a system from Chinainto its national defense system, which would be used outside of the NATO system.

The visit to China follows a diplomatic spat between Beijing and Ankara after around 180 Uighur Turks held at detention centers in Thailand were sent to Turkey, and a subsequent 109 moved to China.

The Uighur -- thought to number around 350 -- had been at the center of a diplomatic tug-of-war, withChina identifying them as from northwestern Xinjiang, while Turkey has welcomed them as its own.

Turkey has also expressed concerns that Muslims in China have been denied the right to fast during the Ramadan period -- a suggestion that China has denied.

Accompanying Erdogan on this week's trip will be Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, Transport Minister Feridun Bilgin, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci and Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.

Erdogan said Tuesday that during the visit they will meet representatives from China's Uighur Turk and Hui Muslim minorities.

Following the China trip, Erdogan is scheduled to fly to Indonesia, where he will meet President Joko Widodo and participate in a Turkey-Indonesia Business Forum.

According to the Foreign Ministry’s website, the two countries aim to secure trade volume this year of $5 billion.

"As the largest economy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is our largest trade partner in the Far East. We are also in close cooperation in international platforms such as G20, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation along with MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and Australia)," Erdogan told reporters.

He said that a Turkey-Indonesia business forum would pave the way for further projects, while further discussion between the two countries would focus on how to coordinate efforts to solve Muslim issues in the Middle East and Asia.

On leaving Indonesia Aug. 1, Erdogan is scheduled to visit Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for a working dinner at Islamabad Airport.