ANKARA (MEMO) – In an about-face, Turkey’s presidential advisor and spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has announced that his country welcomes and accepts Saudi Arabia’s trial following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in efforts to repair ties between the two countries.
In an interview with Reuters news agency, Kalin said that the Turkish presidency welcomed the kingdom’s trial last year which imprisoned eight individuals responsible for the assassination of the exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
"They had a court. Trials have been held,” Kalin said. "They made a decision so we respect that decision.”
His remarks are contrary to Turkey’s previous stance against the kingdom and its trial, which it formerly criticized and presented evidence that the assassination was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman himself.
The issue proved to be the cause of a major rift between Ankara and Riyadh last year, with reports emerging in July that the kingdom was forcing businesses not to trade with Turkey and that Saudi authorities had detained Turkish trucks in an unofficial boycott of the country. A Saudi prince directly called for the boycott of Turkish exports.
Kalin also expressed his hope that the boycott would be lifted, saying: "We will seek ways to repair the relationship with a more positive agenda with Saudi Arabia as well.”
Prospects for improving the relationship between Riyadh and Ankara seemed to brighten towards the end of last year with the foreign ministers of both countries holding a "sincere” meeting on bilateral relations and regional issues. Since then, however, there has been little development towards that goal until now.
Kalin’s positive comments also come at a time when Turkey is aiming to repair strained relations with other regional nations such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt. Next week, talks between Turkey and Egypt are set to take place in which they aim to settle tensions caused by Cairo’s military coup in 2013 and their differing foreign policy activities in Libya and Syria.
"Given the realities on the ground I think it’s in the interests of both countries and the region to normalize relations with Egypt,” Kalin said. "Rapprochement with Egypt…will certainly help the security situation in Libya because we fully understand that Egypt has a long border with Libya and that may sometimes pose a security threat for Egypt.”