Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan meets with UK counterpart James Cleverly in Ankara, discusses Ukraine war, Black Sea Grain Initiative
The scope of the free trade agreement between Türkiye and the UK will be broadened, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said in a joint press conference with his British counterpart James Cleverly in Ankara on Wednesday.
“We are about the finalize our preparations,” he said, adding the goal is to diversify the bilateral trade volume, which reached nearly $20 billion in 2022. The current trade agreement was signed in December 2020.
He said they also discussed regional and international issues, including the Ukraine war,restoration of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Syria conflict.
Development Road project
Fidan said Türkiye, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are engaged in intense discussions regarding the Türkiye-Iraq Development Road project.
He said recent geopolitical developments such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine conflict and competition between the US and China have made new trade routes increasingly important.
Referring to the agreement for a India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor signed at the G-20 summit in New Delhi last week, Fidan said “there are doubts among experts” regarding its rationality and efficiency.
“It is seen that geostrategic concerns play a significant role,” he added.
“There is another economic corridor that came to the agenda in the G-20 meetings, and support was confirmed. It is the Development Road project that will start from the Gulf of Basra, pass through Iraq, and reach Iraq.
“Türkiye is currently busy with this project. Particularly Iraq, the UAE, Türkiye and Qatar are engaged in intensive discussions on this matter.”
He said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, especially in his meeting with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, agreed that official paperwork on project should be completed and put into practice within the next few months.
“We have conveyed this preliminary discussion to the Iraqi authorities as well,” Fidan said.
Sudan crisis, floods in Libya
On a question regarding President Erdogan’s meeting with the head of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in the Turkish capital, Fidan said they spoke about ongoing peace negotiations and the provision of assistance as humanitarian and economic crises continue during the war.
“Our president reiterated our determination to provide all kinds of support to Sudan. It was emphasized that if there is any service we can offer for peace, we are always ready for it,” the Turkish diplomat said.
Fidan also conveyed his condolences to flood-hit Libya, saying Türkiye has sent assistance and will continue to do as long as there is a need.