Zahra Sadat Firouzi, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, explaining the relations between Turkey and the Zionist regime and the tensions that the two sides have experienced so far in their relations, recalled that Turkey recognized the Zionist regime on March 28, 1949, and said: After the Mavi Marmara ship incident in June 2016, an agreement was reached to normalize bilateral relations between them. Bilateral relations entered a critical period again with the Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians participating in the “Great March of Return” on March 30, 2018. On August 17, 2022, full normalization of relations took place, and the same year, both sides designated their ambassadors.
Stating that the official statistics show that the challenges of the two sides that arise from time to time do not have a negative effect on their trade relations, she said: During the Justice and Development Party period, the volume of trade between Turkey and the Zionist regime has increased exponentially. Also, the increase in Turkish exports to the Zionist regime has attracted attention in recent years, and economic relations between Turkey and the Zionist regime have made significant progress in the past 20 years. The volume of trade, which was 1.41 billion dollars in 2002, increased to 8.91 billion dollars in 2022; thus, the trade balance has entered a path in favor of Turkey.
Recalling that the first face-to-face meeting between Erdogan and Netanyahu took place in September at the United Nations General Assembly, the expert on Turkey affairs continued: In that meeting, Erdogan emphasized cooperation between Turkey and the Zionist regime in many fields and said that the existence of new fields for cooperation is also a fact and everyone knows that the Zionist regime seeks to transfer its resources to Europe. The most logical way to transfer those resources is through Turkey. According to Erdogan, there are also opportunities for cooperation between the two sides in drilling activities.
Firouzi added: According to the information of the private trade system of the Turkish Statistical Institute, the country’s export to the Zionist regime in 2002, when the Justice and Development Party came to power, was 861.4 million dollars. Its import from the Zionist regime was 544.5 million dollars. In 2022, exports increased to 6.74 billion dollars, imports to 2.17 billion dollars, and the trade volume increased from 1.41 billion dollars to 8.91 billion dollars. Based on this, trade volume has increased by 532 percent over the past 20 years.
Saying that between the years 2000 and 2022, the trade balance between the Zionist regime and Turkey has always been in Turkey’s favor, she noted The fact that the volume of trade did not decrease even after the “Marmara” ship crisis in 2010, shows that despite the political challenges, economic relations have remained strong. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute data, the Zionist regime was the tenth destination for exporting Turkish goods in 2022, and Germany, the United States, and Iraq were at the top of Turkey’s exports. The Zionist regime had the 29th rank for imports to Turkey, and most of Turkey’s imports came from Russia, China, and Germany.
The IAWAS secretary continued: The share of the Zionist regime in Turkey’s exports in 2002 was 2.39 percent, which increased to 2.87 percent in 2022. The share of imports has decreased from 1.06 percent to 0.63 percent in the same period.
Firouzi further remarked that the president of Turkey has repeatedly criticized the Zionist regime with harsh words in the past, and at the same time added: Ankara, in its new approach, although it did not mention the name of Hamas in its official statements, strongly criticized the killing of the people of Gaza. Unlike previous years, he invited both sides to reduce tension and is trying not to spoil some newly established relations with the region’s countries. This Turkish approach was evaluated as more balanced than in the past, and many believe that Erdogan has such considerations due to the beginning of the normalization of Turkey’s relations with the countries of the region and Turkey’s economic expectations from some countries.
Saying that Erdogan is trying to take a moderate approach by not getting into tension, she considered continuing this approach in Turkey’s foreign policy together with some benefits for that country. She added: Of course, in this situation, the possibility that Turkey will be playing the role of a mediator in the conflict between the Zionist regime and Hamas is not that much. Currently, there is no such relationship based on trust between the Zionist regime and Turkey, as well as between Erdogan and Netanyahu, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia have established closer relations with Hamas. Therefore, Turkey is not a mediator; rather, it can be a player that moves in support of the Palestinian people and along with them.
According to the expert on Turkey affairs, Erdogan’s job is difficult this time. Because Hamas is the leading player in this conflict, it is tough to act as a mediator and find a political solution in scenarios where the Palestinian government is not the leading player. In fact, although there are political tensions between Ankara and Tel Aviv, it seems that the common economic and security interests have made Turkey maintain its bilateral relations with the Zionist regime despite sometimes harsh positions. Turkey and the Zionist regime will continue to have a complex relationship, “neither friend nor enemy.” While Turkey is one of the staunch critics of the policies of the Zionist regime against Palestinians, it has maintained its diplomatic and economic relations with that regime, and Erdogan attaches importance to ties with the Zionist regime.
Firouzi emphasized that the volume of bilateral trade between Turkey and the Zionist regime is significant, and the companies of both sides cooperate in various sectors. However, occasional political tensions have led to the termination of diplomatic relations between the two sides.