Revitalised relationship continues to grow

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year, when Erdoğan attended the Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019. Also present were Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, and the first lady of Turkey, Emine Erdoğan.Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year, when Erdoğan attended the Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019. Also present were Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, and the first lady of Turkey, Emine Erdoğan.

A relationship that goes as far back as the 16th century, bolstered by similar interpretations of Islam as well a democratic system of governance, are just some of the reasons why Turkey and Malaysia have such strong ties with each other.

This relationship was further revitalised in 2014 with the landmark visit by then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Malaysia in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Turkish Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Merve Safa Kavakci said with that momentous visit, the relationship between both countries was elevated to a strategic partnership, and this gave impetus to further promote our relationship in multiple areas.

This led to a bilateral Free Trade Agreement which came into force in 2015, as well as a strong emphasis on defence collaborations, which continues to be among the biggest areas of cooperation between the two countries.

The latest round of high level visits from Turkey to Malaysia was in December 2019, when President Erdoğan arrived with five ministers. Even though the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down visits in 2020, we are ambitious to restart it once the situation gets better.”

“Turkey’s stance towards important issues such as Palestine, Rohingya and UN reform is quite similar to Malaysia’s. Thus, we are in good cooperation not only bilaterally, but also in multilateral platforms,” added Kavakci.

Among the areas for further cooperation included the defence industry, information technologies, health, food, tourism, agriculture, housing, environment, infrastructure, education and security.

“As the world is going through a global pandemic, we can further our cooperation in the field of public health and vaccination, while focusing also on all other areas as each of them bears importance.

In this regard, Kavakci said, as two friendly and brotherly countries, Turkey and Malaysia can cooperate a lot.

“As our two leaders agreed during their phone conversation in May, both countries are ready to fully utilise each other’s strengths in combating the spread of the coronavirus and facing the challenges post-Covid-19. Furthermore, as listed by the World Health Organisation, the Covid-19 vaccine studies in Turkey will enter the human trial phase soon.”

In the area of defence, Turkey and Malaysia have had a strong relationship since the early 2010s with the supply of armored vehicles, remote controlled weapon systems and shipbuilding projects.

Kavalci said in the last three years, intensive efforts have been put in place to bolster further collaboration, in terms of new deals between firms on both sides or attention to areas such as aerospace and maritime.

During the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition last year, Turkish defence companies concluded 10 deals and Turkey was the biggest participant in the exhibition.

“We believe that the defense aspect of the relationship will continue to be important one to watch within broader ties into years ahead,” she said.

The fight against terrorism in also an area in which both countries share similar opinions.

“I would like to thank again Malaysian authorities for their support in Turkey’s fight against the Fetullahist Terror Organisation (FETO) that was responsible for the coup attempt in 2016, which resulted in martyrdom of 251 people and injury of 2192. Condemning the July 15 treacherous coup attempt, Malaysia did not hesitate to hand over the suspects associated with FETO to the justice of our country, in 2016, 2017 and finally, in 2019,”.

“I would like to underline that Turkey’s cooperation with Malaysia in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations did not stop and it will continue. I also want to reiterate and assure that Turkey will never host any element that might pose a threat to Malaysia, in its territory,” added Kavakci.

Turkish Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Merve Safa Kavakci. PIC BY ANADOLU AGENCY

Turkish Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Merve Safa Kavakci. PIC BY ANADOLU AGENCY

Moving forward, especially with the current global situation with the Covid-19 pandemic, Kavakci said countries must consider how they can be better prepared, especially in building sustainable trade chains.

“With this spirit, we give utmost importance to further develop the economic and trade relations with Malaysia. With the new measures Turkey has taken for facilitation of trade, we now offer more opportunities for foreign importers and investors with the country’s highly developed industry, wide range of industrial and agricultural production and high-quality products.

She said with the importance placed on food security, the supply of food and agricultural products from Turkey to Malaysia has risen following the pandemic.

“Another opportunity we should work on is the halal sector. I consider that it would be beneficial for both countries to increase cooperation in halal, particularly on halal food, halal cosmetics and Islamic finance,”.

Furthermore, she added, Malaysia and Turkey can also cooperate on digitalisation and e-commerce which are two important pillars against fighting the economic side effects of the pandemic.

She said both countries, who have considerable experience in e-commerce, should bring their knowledge and experience together to find ways to cooperate in building joint e-commerce projects.

“The pandemic crisis has accelerated the pace of digital transformation. During this period, virtual trade organisations have become one of the fundamental platforms for businessmen to come together and form business relations. Turkish trade authorities are also organising virtual organisations like trade delegations, fairs etc. We invite your public institutions, industry chambers and other authorities to encourage your valuable business people to come together with their Turkish counterparts in these digital platforms,”.

“Since our economic relations rely heavily on the US dollar for trade and investment transactions, we should also encourage Turkish and Malaysian businessmen to use local currencies in their trade transactions,” added Kavakci.

With Malaysia’s key position in Asean, which has 650 million people, and Turkey’s strategic access to 53 countries including all European countries, Russia, Middle East, Middle Asia and Northern Africa and 1.6 billion people with the potential of 8 trillion dollars of trade volume, Turkey is ready and eager to collaborate with Malaysia in the field of investments.

“We are open to joint investment projects especially in defence industry, high-technology production, automotive, machinery and equipment and halal production with our Malaysian counterparts.

Kavakci said both Turkey and Malaysia were countries in strategic positions in significant regions and both countries were also similar in their interpretation of Islam and democratic system of governance.

“I can say that with the frequency of high level visits in recent years, new mutual investments, increasing trade and growing mutual interest have contributed a lot to this close relationship. Our special ties continue to flourish in an atmosphere of mutual trust and friendship,”.

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