ANKARA: Bahrain and Turkey have signed a slew of accords to deepen their relations and broaden their cooperation. The memoranda of understanding were signed in the presence of King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who had arrived a few hours earlier in Bahrain on the first leg of his three-country four-day Gulf tour. The cooperation agreements covered the military industry sector, education, and visa fee exemptions. King Hamad in his welcome speech hailed Erdogan’s visit to Bahrain, his “second home” saying that it reflected the “robust fraternal ties” and the “growth of shared interests” between the two countries. “Your tireless efforts and your pioneering initiatives to build the model Turkish state that seeks peace, progress, tolerance and moderation are appreciated and admired given their great significance to us and their compatibility with what we seek and consider as a reason to safeguard the stability of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the clarity and stability of its relationships and positions, as is the case in the sisterly country of Turkey,” King Hamad said on Sunday evening.
The Bahraini monarch bestowed the Shaikh Eis Bin Salman Al Khalifa Medal, Bahrain’s highest distinction, on Erdogan “as an expression of gratitude from the Kingdom of Bahrain and its people, and in recognition of, and pride in, your venerable efforts and noble attitudes in the service and elevation of our Islamic nation and protection of our humanitarian achievements.” In his speech, Erdogan addressed King Hamad as “My dear brother, Abu Salman”, the Arabic tradition of showing respect to a man by calling him after his eldest son’s name. “You stood with us during our most difficult days and you have held a highly significant place in our hearts,” the Turkish leader told King Hamad who in August became the first Arab leader to visit Turkey following the failed coup attempt in July. “I accept the Shaikh Eisa Bin Salman Al Khalifa Medal as an icon of the fraternity between Turkey and Bahrain and it will have a distinctive significance in our shared history,” he said. “The Turkish-Bahraini fraternity will, God willing, sustain and cover all fields. Turkey will continue standing by Bahrain in good and bad times. I believe that we will work together for the stability, security and future of our region.” King Hamad said that Erdogan’s visit reflected deep-rooted relations binding Bahrain and Turkey, stressing the two countries’ determination to expand cooperation. “The meeting with President Erdogan represents a good opportunity to consult and exchange ideas concerning steadily-growing relations on all levels”, he said, and hailed the “constructive and fruitful talks which focused on current regional and international developments, particularly with the backdrop of the events unfolding in the region.”
King Hamad underlined the crucial role of the two countries in consolidating security and stability in the region, hailing the talks that reflected a strong desire to bolster fraternal relations and explore the adequate ways to overcome problems and end crises which are ravaging the region. He underscored “the crucial importance of strengthening bilateral relations, mustering all efforts and expanding cooperation between all countries, particularly Turkey, a pivotal state which plays an influential role in the region.” Erdogan is also visiting Saudi Arabia on February 13-14 and Qatar on February 14-15.