Turkey has invited Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz to the Antalya Diplomacy Forum that will bring a group of politicians, diplomats, academics and experts together to discuss regional and global matters in June.
Turkey’s invitation to a senior Israeli minister constitutes another important signal for the reconciliation of ties between the two countries whose ties were strained since 2018.
It comes after the exchange of positive verbal messages between the two countries’ politicians although Turkey underlines that Israel should drastically change its attitude towards Palestinians if it wants a permanent normalization in ties with Turkey.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, in an interview recently, underlined this perspective of Turkey when it comes to relations with Israel and said an exchange of ambassadors can be considered only after Israel changes its behavior.
Steinitz was the last Israeli official visiting Turkey in 2017. Recently, he spoke warmly about Israel’s willingness to cooperate with Turkey on transporting natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean to the European markets.
Turkey has long been criticizing the littoral countries Greece, Greek Cyprus, Israel and Egypt for excluding it from a regional initiative aiming to intensify the cooperation in the field of hydrocarbon reserves of the Mediterranean.
The issue will likely be largely discussed at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum which is planned to be held physically between June 18 and 20 with the title of “Innovative Diplomacy: New Era, New Approaches,” hosted by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
Çavuşoğlu calls UAE counterpart
In the meantime, Çavuşoğlu and his United Arab Emirates counterpart spoke on April 22 over the phone, according to diplomatic sources.
During the call, Çavuşoğlu and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan congratulated the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, said the sources on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The phone call comes amid mutual efforts to normalize the ties between the two countries. Ankara and Abu Dhabi were in a long-term rivalry over regional conflicts in Syria and Libya.
Çavuşoğlu, in an interview, recalled Turkey had no problems with the UAE and was ready to normalize ties with the Gulf country. The process was accelerated following the end of the blockage imposed by the Gulf countries against Qatar, Turkey’s leading regional ally.