Appealing for international collaboration to cope with the crisis of Syrian refugees and the challenges to peace in the Middle East, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a keynote lecture delivered at the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in February, that his country would like to broaden its political and trade relationships with the region.
The Turkish Head of State arrived in Chile on Sunday, January 31 in the framework of a trip to the region that will extend until February 4, and which will include visits to Peru and Ecuador. He was met yesterday by ECLAC Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena. The Chilean Minister of Foreign Relations, Heraldo Muñoz, also participated in the meeting.
During her presentation, Ms. Bárcena said the message of the Turkish President towards Latin America and the Caribbean shows that country’s willingness to strengthen the understanding with this region.
She recalled that Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations and noted that in the region, Turkey is an Observer of the Organization of American States (OAS), of the Pacific Alliance and of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). In addition, it maintains contacts with the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and with the Caribbean Community (Caricom), and forms part of the bloc called MICTA, along with Mexico, Indonesia, the Korean Republic and Australia.
Regarding their trade relationship, exchanges between Turkey and Latin America have multiplied tenfold, rising to almost $10 billion in 2014 from around $1 billion in 2000, Alicia Bárcena said. The Executive Secretary also highlighted the current growth of the Turkish economy, with an expansion above the world average.
The ECLAC chief also appreciated that next May, Turkey is preparing to host the first World Humanitarian Summit, with the aim of improving response capabilities and global commitment in this area.
During his keynote lecture, the Mr. Erdogan stressed that in the last decade, his country has applied an opening strategy towards Latin America and the Caribbean, where it currently has 13 diplomatic missions compared to the six missions it had in 2009. Moreover, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) had opened offices in Mexico and Colombia to strengthen South-South ties. Within this strategy, he expressed Turkey’s interest in becoming a member State of ECLAC.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country is interested in subscribing free trade agreements (FTA) with Latin American and Caribbean countries with the aim of strengthening trade exchanges. Chile was the first country in the region to sign an agreement of this type with Turkey in 2009.
The Turkish leader also noted that his country currently hosts more than two million refugees that have fled the war in Syria and asked for the international community’s cooperation to confront this humanitarian crisis.
On his part, Chilean Minister of Foreign Relations, Heraldo Muñoz, also appreciated Turkey’s role as a recipient country of Syrian refugees and said that Chile has offered to receive displaced families by this conflict.