Relations between Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Turkey’s institutional relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) commenced with the “Framework Agreement for Economic Cooperation between Turkey and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)” signed on 30 May 2005 in Manama, Bahrain. This framework agreement aims to monitor economic cooperation activities and designate new areas of cooperation. A Joint Committee for Economic Cooperation was decided to be established to this end.

The Memorandum of Understanding establishing a Strategic Dialogue Mechanism between Turkey and the GCC was signed on 2 September 2008 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on the occasion of Turkey-GCC Foreign Ministers Meeting. The aforementioned Strategic Dialogue Mechanism sets the ground for deepening Turkey’s relations with the GCC in political and cultural areas, in addition to the existing economic cooperation.

While this Strategic Dialogue Mechanism places the relations between Turkey and the GCC on an institutional basis, Turkey is the first country with which the GCC has established such a bilateral mechanism.

Another aim of the aforementioned Memorandum of Understanding is to convene High Level Strategic Dialogue Meetings between Turkey and the GCC every year at the level of senior officials and Ministers. Within this framework five High Level Strategic Dialogue Meetings have taken place so far (2008 in Jeddah, 2009 in Istanbul, 2010 in Kuwait City, 2012 in Istanbul and 2016 in Riyadh). While a Joint Communique and the 2011-2012 Joint Action Plan were released at the end of the meeting in Kuwait, another Joint Communique was issued following the meeting in Riyadh.

In line with the 2011-2012 Joint Action Plan issued following the third High Level Strategic Dialogue Meeting, the following 11 sub-committees have been pursuing their work: trade and investment, agriculture and food security, transport and communication, energy, electricity and water, environment, health, culture, education, economy, fiscal and monetary.

The fifth Turkey-GCC High Level Strategic Dialogue Meeting of Foreign Ministers was held under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, in its capacity as the GCC Term President, in Riyadh on 13 October 2016, with the participation of Foreign Minister H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Issues pertaining to deepening cooperation between Turkey and the GCC in economic, trade, cultural and other fields were discussed in the fifth Turkey-GCC High Level Strategic Dialogue Meeting of Foreign Ministers. The Ministers also decided to revive the work of the above-mentioned 11 subcommittees established under this mechanism and to extend the existing Joint Action Plan until the end of 2018.