Joint Statement of the Joint Ministerial Meeting of the GCC-Turkey High Level Strategic Dialogue, 8 July 2009, Istanbul – Turkey

The Joint Ministerial Meeting of the GCC-Turkey High Level Strategic Dialogue was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday, 8 July 2009, at the invitation of H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, who co-chaired the meeting with H.E. Yusuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman, President of the current session of the GCC Ministerial Council, with the participation of their Highness and Excellency Foreign Ministers of the GCC member states, and His Excellency Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al-‘Attiyah, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The meeting was held in an open and friendly atmosphere, in light of the strong brotherly relations between the two sides, and under the terms of the High Level Strategic Dialogue that the two sides launched in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in September 2008. The Two sides welcomed this opportunity to reaffirm their shared desire to enhance those relations, in accordance with the deep bonds that their peoples have, and move them toward deeper and more extensive levels.

The Heads of Delegation were received by H.E. Abdullah Gül, President of the Republic of Turkey on 7 July and by H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey on 8 July. The GCC Foreign Ministers expressed their deep pleasure with those meetings and their appreciation for the great efforts extended by Turkey to make this meeting a success.

The Ministers were inspired by the speeches delivered by the President and the Prime Minister of Turkey which stressed the importance of further developing relations between Turkey and the GCC countries and its positive effects on peace and stability in the region.

The two sides recalled the Memorandum of Understanding that they signed in September 2008 to establish a mechanism to promote cooperation in all spheres of common interest. They reviewed the proposals submitted to them by the GCC-Turkey Senior Officials Meeting held in Istanbul on 9-10 February 2009, and stated the following:

1. The two sides reaffirmed their belief that the common goal of this High Level Strategic Dialogue is to anchor cooperation between them on a solid institutional basis and to cover all areas of common interest as stated in the MoU.

2. In the economic domain, the two sides welcomed the completion of the process of ratification of the Framework Agreement on Economic Cooperation that they signed in May 2005. They agreed to establish the Joint Committee for Economic Cooperation, as foreseen in the Framework Agreement, to oversee cooperation in all economic, commercial and technical fields, including but not limited to transportation infrastructure, investment, food security and tourism. The two sides agreed to advise their relevant national institutions to hold consultations on the prospects of cooperation in the field of energy, including oil, gas, renewable energy and mineral resources. The two sides took note of the proposed joint venture for a railroad that connects the GCC and Turkey and agreed to continue to discuss it in future meetings.

3. The two sides reviewed the progress of the Turkey-GCC FTA negotiations and urged the negotiation teams to intensify their efforts with a view to conclude the FTA as soon as possible within a time-frame to be agreed to by the relevant authorities. The two sides reaffirmed their belief that the agreement would enhance their mutual relations in all areas.

4. In the military and defense domain, the two sides encouraged further cooperation and coordination at the bilateral level between military authorities on issues of common interest.

5. The two sides reiterated their constant positions on the condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, from whatever source and renewed their support for all international and regional efforts to combat this phenomenon. Towards this end, they urged for coordination between security authorities in the fields of countering terrorism, sources of terror financing, money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime, as well as training at the Ankara-based Turkish International Academy Against Drugs and Organized Crime (TADOC).

6. In the cultural, educational and scientific domain, the two sides agreed to establish mechanisms to increase cooperation among institutions of research and higher education, national archives and cultural institutions and to promote and facilitate educational and cultural exchange programs as well as exchanges of young diplomats for language and on-the-job training, as well the establishment of Turkish studies departments and Turkish language centers in GCC member states and Arabic studies departments and Arabic language centers in Turkey.

With regards to regional and international issues, the two sides reiterated that all relations in the region should be based on full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the countries of the region and the principles of non-interference in internal affairs and friendly neighborly relations and stated the following:

7. The two sides expressed concern at the lack of progress towards resolving the dispute over the three islands of Abu Musa, Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb. They reiterated their support for a peaceful settlement of this dispute in accordance with international law, either through direct negotiations between the parties or by referring the matter to the International Court of Justice.

8. The two sides reaffirmed their respect for Iraq’s unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the preservation of its Arab and Islamic identity. They reiterated non-interference in Iraq’s internal affairs and called on all others to do the same. They look forward to restoring security and stability of Iraq, and a speedy completion of national reconciliation, to ensure the success of full political participation of all Iraqis, without exception or discrimination.

9. On the Iraq-Kuwait situation, the two sides reaffirmed the obligation of Iraq to implement all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

10. On the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Palestinian issue and the Middle East peace process, the two sides welcomed the positive declaration by the U.S. Administration towards achieving peace in the Middle East. Both sides reiterated that their resolution should be in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Road Map, the principle of land-for-peace and the Arab Peace Initiative and reaffirmed the principle of two-state solution, one Palestinian and one Israeli living side by side in peace and security. They also emphasized that peace and security will not be achieved in the region without the establishment of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The two sides rejected the Israeli policies on settlements, home demolitions, the segregation wall, forced evictions and land confiscations and called for an immediate halt to these policies, which hamper the peace process.

11. On the Iranian nuclear issue, the two sides reiterated the right of nations parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to acquire nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, emphasizing the need to reach a peaceful resolution of this issue. They expressed their support for international efforts in the fields of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation and in this context reiterated their desire to further enhance dialogue and cooperation on these issues. The two sides reaffirmed their shared objective to pursue efforts for the establishment of a zone free of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in the Middle East, including the Gulf.

12. On Lebanon, the two sides welcomed the steady progress towards the implementation of the Doha Accord, election of the new Parliament, and the efforts undertaken to form a national unity government, as these steps will achieve what the brotherly Lebanese people aspire for in peace, security and stability.

13. The two sides expressed support for Turkey’s accession to the EU, which they noted would have important implications for promoting cross-cultural dialogue and understanding with positive repercussions for the whole region.

14. The two sides expressed support for a comprehensive settlement to establish a new partnership of the two peoples in Cyprus, under the auspices of the good-offices mission of the United Nations Secretary General, on the basis of well-established UN parameters. The two sides underlined the need to bring an end to the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people, in line with the calls of the UN Secretary General in his reports and the relevant OIC resolutions.

15. The two sides also reviewed the situation in the Sinkiang-Uighur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. They expressed their concern over the events that took place in Urumchi on the 5th of July which resulted in civilian casualties and property losses. The two sides found the continuing reports of high tension and unrest alarming and called for restraint and taking of all the necessary measures to protect civilian life.

16. The two sides underscored the need to encourage greater dialogue, understanding and respect between cultures.

17. The two sides reiterated their support for the initiative by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia, for dialogue between the followers of all religions and cultures.

18. The two sides declared their support for the Alliance of Civilizations initiative sponsored by the Republic of Turkey and welcomed the outcome of the Second UN Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, held in Istanbul on 6-7 April 2009.

19. The two sides expressed concern over the surge of acts of piracy at sea, and the threat of such acts of piracy to international maritime navigation. They expressed appreciation for the role played by Turkey, which assumed on 3 May 2009 the command of the multinational Counter Piracy Combined Task Force 151, and all other efforts undertaken by countries of the region.

20. The two sides agreed to convene their next meeting of the High Level Strategic Dialogue at the Ministerial Level in Kuwait in 2010.

Issued in Istanbul, the Republic of Turkey, on Wednesday 8 July 2009, corresponding to 14 Rajab 1430 AH.