Steinitz to meet Turkish counterpart today in first ministerial meeting since 2010

Israel’s Energy Minister is expected to meet his Turkish counterpart today in the first ministerial-level meeting between the two countries since diplomatic ties were recently restored following a six-year hiatus.

Israel’s Embassy in Ankara said that Yuval Steinitz will meet his Turkish counterpart Berat Albayrak at the World Energy Congress in Istanbul today. Steinitz is to deliver the opening remarks for an Atlantic Council panel titled “A New Landscape in the Eastern Mediterranean”. He will then apparently address the media.

The statement said that Steinitz and Albayrak will discuss energy cooperation between Israel and Turkey. It described the meeting as “the first visit at ministerial level in the past six years, and it is the result of the rapprochement agreed upon by the two countries”.

The Israeli business daily Globes says that Turkey’s President Erdogan told journalists several weeks ago that the Steinitz-Albayrak meeting “has been postponed several times,” but that “I believe that it will take place, and only after it will we know what steps will be taken going forward”.

In June, Israel and Turkey agreed a reconciliation deal to restore diplomatic relations. In 2010, the previously warm relationship between Israel and Turkey deteriorated after the deaths of ten Turkish citizens on the Gaza-bound protest ship, the Mavi Marmara. Israel has agreed to pay compensation to the families and will allow Turkish aid and infrastructure projects in the Gaza Strip. In return, Turkey will not allow itself to be used as a base for terror groups such as Hamas and bilateral relations with Israel will be extended.

Haaretz says this morning that the two countries have made progress in appointing respective ambassadors. Turkish media apparently reports that Kemal Okem will become the country’s envoy in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, the Israel Foreign Ministry’s appointment committee is apparently set to meet on October 27 to select an ambassador to Ankara.

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