UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM BOTH PRESIDENTS
By Merve Berker
ANKARA (AA) - Turkiye and Colombia raised their bilateral ties to the level of strategical partnership after signing a joint memorandum, the Turkish president said on Friday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a press conference with his Colombian counterpart, Ivan Duque Marquez, following a meeting in the former's working office at the Dolmabahce Palace in the metropolis Istanbul.
The two leaders touched on issues related to bilateral relations between Ankara and Bogota during the meeting.
"Turkiye and Colombia have raised their bilateral ties to the level of strategic partnership with the joint memorandum," Erdogan told reporters.
“Thanks to the mechanism of the high-level cooperation council, we will handle our relations at the highest level with the meetings that we will hold as presidents every two years,” he added.
- Trade, irregular migration
Erdogan stressed that Colombia is currently Turkiye’s second-largest trading partner in Latin America after Brazil.
“In 2021, our trade volume doubled and exceeded $2 billion,” Erdogan said, adding: “Colombia was also one of the countries where we increased our exports the most last year.”
Noting that Turkiye’s aim is to increase its trade volume with Colombia to $5 billion as soon as possible, he stressed that “intensive” efforts are underway to make it happen.
“Colombia, with its developing economy, offers attractive opportunities for Turkish investments. We support increasing mutual contact and visits between Turkish and Colombian business people.
“Colombia is also central to our presence in Latin America and our policy of opening up to the region,” Erdogan said.
Pointing out that one of the two offices of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in the region and the regional representative office of Anadolu Agency (AA) are located in Bogota, Erdogan said that Turkiye’s Maarif Foundation has also made a significant contribution to the relations between the two countries.
In addition, the Turkish president noted that Turkish Airlines, the nation’s flag carrier, has been operating daily Istanbul-Bogota flights.
About the issue of irregular migration: Erdogan said: “We attach importance to cooperation as the two countries are most affected by irregular migration.
“We will work together to solve this global problem through joint initiatives that we will carry out on international platforms,” he said.
He noted that the two countries will increase cooperation in numerous other fields such as combating drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crimes.
“To date, we have provided 177 Colombian students with the opportunity to study in our country as part of Turkiye Scholarships,” the Turkish president said.
He added that he plans to pay a visit to Colombia, along with a tour of the region, by Aug. 7.
For his part, Marquez also said: "We will immediately start increasing our bilateral trade volume to two, three or four times in the next 10 years. We need to start this from today."
"Turkish companies are already present in Colombia and our doors are open to those who want to come," he stated.
Noting that Colombia aims to increase the trade volume with Turkiye to more than €400 million ($422 million) this year, Marquez said that the agreements signed on Friday will accomplish this goal.
Before the press conference, Erdogan and Marquez signed a Joint Memorandum on Strategic Cooperation and Partnership between Ankara and Bogota.
The two countries have also signed other agreements such as the Agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Health and Medical Sciences, the Protocol on Cooperation between the State Archives of the Presidency of the Turkish Republic and the Directorate of the National Archives of Colombia, and the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Higher Education.