By Manolis Kostides
CONSTANTINOPLE - REPORT: To attract capital worth 50 billion dollars, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan embarked on a tour of Gulf countries. Some economic analysts in the neighboring country suggest that the government is taking these steps due to Turkey's significant need for foreign exchange and to avoid seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund. Opposition parties point out that Erdoğan is approaching these countries out of necessity, while not long ago, he characterized them as hostile. Accompanying him on the tour are 200 entrepreneurs.
The first stop was Saudi Arabia, which announced the signing of numerous agreements with Turkey, including one for the purchase of Turkish unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) Akinci. In a special ceremony, Erdoğan and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed agreements in energy, investments, defense, and media. During the same event, Erdoğan gifted a domestically produced Turkish car, TOGG, to Salman.
Opposing Turkish television networks argue that the agreements Ankara will sign with Gulf countries involve the sale of refineries, major media groups, ports, and even Turkish Airlines. However, the Turkish government has not provided such details. The officially announced agreement with Saudi Arabia includes "two contracts with the Turkish company Baykar" - in which Erdoğan's son-in-law, Selçuk Bayraktar, is a co-owner - which manufactures unmanned aircraft, particularly the TB2 Bayraktar. Saudi Arabia "will acquire drones to enhance the readiness of the kingdom's armed forces and its defense and manufacturing capabilities," said the country's Defense Minister, Khalid bin Salman.
In a tweet, the CEO of Baykar, Haluk Bayraktar, mentioned the "largest defense and aviation export contract in the history of the Turkish Republic," without disclosing the size of the economic agreement. Nonetheless, political analysts report that Turkey's cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the field of armaments aims not only at the economy but also at creating an informal alliance against Iran.
This is Erdoğan's second visit to Saudi Arabia since reestablishing relations between Riyadh and Ankara. The relations between the two countries reached their "nadir" when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Constantinople in 2018.
Erdoğan's visit comes when Turkey is grappling with the depreciation of the Turkish lira - yesterday, the lira depreciated 2% against the euro and the dollar - and inflation, which has affected the economy.
Yesterday evening, the President of Turkey arrived in Qatar, the second stop on his tour, and the United Arab Emirates will follow. In Qatar, he met with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and also gifted a TOGG car. Today, new agreements between the two countries are expected to be announced.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]