Israeli President Isaac Herzon is scheduled to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital Ankara today to repair the two countries’ fractured relations.
The meeting, held at the Turkish President’s official residence in Ankara, is expected to be a turning point in relations to open a new chapter for relations between the countries.
In a statement before his departure from Tel Aviv, Herzog said that the two leaders would try to restart Turkey-Israel relations and stressed that relations between Israel and Turkey are important not only for the two countries but also for the entire region.
Herzog hopes that his visit can start a process of deep and serious dialogue with Turkey so that in the future positive progress can be seen with relations between the two countries.
Herzog’s trip marks the highest-level visit by an Israeli official since Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s last visit in 2008.
Herzog landed in Ankara on Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to attend soon a series of meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including a state dinner that will welcome the Israeli President with his wife, Michel Herzog.
Herzog will also be scheduled to fly to Istanbul to meet with leaders of the Jewish community on Wednesday evening before returning to Israel on Thursday afternoon.
Battered by an economic crisis at home, Turkey seems to have taken steps to improve relations with regional rivals.
Earlier this week, Israel welcomed a group of 100 businessmen from Turkey at a banquet that is expected to boost trade ties.
Erdogan said the meeting would mark a “new era” for the two countries. The two were expected to work together to carry Israeli natural gas to Europe, reviving an idea first discussed more than 20 years ago.
Relations between the two countries have been tense for various reasons, in particular after the deaths of 10 civilians in the Israeli attack on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara. The ship carrying the aid was trying to break through the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which Israel besieged in 2010.
After years of frosty relations, a reconciliation agreement was reached in 2016. However, it was broken in 2018 following the Great March of Return protests. During several months of mass action, more than 200 Palestinians were killed by Israeli army fire.
Despite appearing to reduce its criticism of Israel ahead of Herzog’s visit, Turkey will not waive its commitment to supporting Palestinian statehood, said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last month.