Erdogan Confirms Plans for Israeli President Herzog's Visit to Turkey

Israeli officials say talks are underway, as the Turkish president eyes warmer ties

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Turkish President recep Tayyip Erdogan in Albania on Monday.
Turkish President recep Tayyip Erdogan in Albania on Monday.Credit: Florion Goga/Reuters
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed Tuesday that a potential visit by Israel's President Isaac Herzog is being discussed, in yet another sign of Turkish efforts to foster closer relations with Israel.

“We're having conversations with President Herzog. Mr. Herzog could visit Turkey,” Erdogan told reporters during a visit to Albania, according to reports in the Turkish media.

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Israeli sources confirmed preliminary talks are underway, but said no date has been set, and the meeting's feasibility is also unclear. Herzog's spokesman refused to comment.

One source familiar with the details of the talks stressed that closer ties with Turkey will not come at the expense of Israel's strong bonds with its allies who have a tense relationship with Ankara – Cyprus and Greece. Moreover, steps taken with Erdogan are done in coordination with these two countries.

Over the past two years, Erdogan has been working to strengthen Turkish relations with Israel, so to strengthen Turkey's standing in the region, advance economic interests and gain favor in the West. However, Israel has been wary of reciprocating Erdogan's intentions.

On Tuesday, after the U.S. decided to rescind its support for the Israeli-Greek EastMed pipeline for economic and environmental reasons, Erdogan called for Israeli-Turkish coordination on a gas pipeline to Europe.

President Isaac Herzog at his mother's funeral last week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

In July, the Israeli government approved the 6 billion Euro EastMed project which would have created a new gas pipeline from Israel and Cyprus to Europe so to lower the dependency on Russian fuel. The project gained traction after Turkey, the largest gas consumer in the region, decided to not purchase gas from its rival Cyprus and Israel.

Since entering his position, President Herzog has had three phone conversations with Erdogan. The first time, Erdogan called to congratulate Herzog on his being elected. The second time, Herzog called Erdogan as part of the efforts to release an Israeli couple that was arrested in Turkey. Last week, Erdogan called to console Herzog after the passing of his mother, Aura.

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