Israeli president Isaac Herzog is set to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital, Ankara, today as the countries seek to mend fractured ties.
The meeting will take place at the official residence of Turkish President in Ankara. Herzog’s will be welcomed by a presidential guard as the two nations are expected to announce that their countries are turning over a new leaf.
“The relationship with Turkey has had its ups and downs in recent years — we will not agree on everything, but we will try to restart relations,” Herzog said in a statement ahead of his departure from Tel Aviv.
“Relations between Israel and Turkey are important to Israel, important to Turkey and important to the entire region,” he said.
“Hopefully following my visit, a process of in-depth and serious dialogue with Turkey will begin at various levels, and we will eventually see progress with positive relations and results,” he said.
Herzog’s trip marks the highest-level visit by an Israeli official since former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the trip in 2008.
The president landed in Ankara on Wednesday afternoon and will hold a series of meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will also host Herzog and his wife, Michal Herzog, for a state dinner.
Herzog is also scheduled to fly to Istanbul for meetings with Jewish community leaders on Wednesday night before returning to Israel on Thursday afternoon.
Turkey — battered by an economic crisis at home — has been seen taking steps to improve relations regional rivals.
Earlier this week, Israel hosted a group of 100 businesspeople from Turkey in a bid to bolster trade ties.
Erdogan has said the visit, announced first in January, will herald a “new era” and that the two countries could work together to carry Israeli natural gas to Europe.
The ties between the two countries have been tense, in particular after the death of 10 civilians in an Israeli raid on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, part of a flotilla trying to breach an Israeli blockade on besieged Gaza by carrying aid into the territory in 2010.
After years of frozen ties, a 2016 reconciliation agreement saw the return of ambassadors, but it collapsed in 2018 in the wake of the Great March of Return protests.