Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a joint press conference with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Tuesday.
President Erdoğan announced that the foreign minister and intelligence chief are collaborating with Qatar to secure the release of hostages currently held by Hamas. He also expressed Türkiye's firm opposition to the Israeli attacks in Gaza, condemning them as a form of collective punishment and war crimes.
Erdoğan used the following expressions in his speech:
"After my visit in 2020, I feel great happiness to be once again in friendly and brotherly Algeria. I extend my thanks once again to my dear brother for the warm reception extended to me and my delegation. We continue to reap the positive results of the contacts and consultations that have taken place in our relations over the past three years.
As you know, during my visit to Algeria, we decided to establish the High-Level Cooperation Council with President Tebboune. We held the first meeting of our Council in Ankara last year. Today, together with my esteemed brother, we chaired the second meeting of our High-Level Cooperation Council. We had productive discussions and exchanged ideas on steps to deepen our relations. We will closely follow the implementation of projects in this framework. We have renamed our Council as the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council by adding the term 'strategic,' which is a sign of the level our relations have reached and the strategic vision they are nourished by.
Türkiye and Algeria have century-old bonds of friendship and brotherhood. We expect our trade volume, which reached a record $5.3 billion last year, to reach $6 billion by the end of this year. With increased efforts, we hope to achieve the target of $10 billion in trade volume that we have set with my brother Tebboune in the near future.
I believe that the preferential trade agreement negotiations, which will begin with the joint declaration of intent signed by our Ministers of Trade today, will assist us. We closely follow Algeria's efforts to evaluate its economic potential under the leadership of my brother Tebboune. Around 1400 Turkish companies support this process. We take pride in our companies being the largest investors and employers in non-hydrocarbon sectors in Algeria.
We will strive to increase these investments even further. We are pleased with Algeria's investments in our country. The signing of the mutual encouragement and protection of investments agreement as soon as possible will support this process. We take special pride in the significant role of our construction companies in Algeria's infrastructure investments. Ziraat Bank has obtained the necessary permissions to open a branch in Algeria, congratulations. This development will greatly contribute to our economic and commercial cooperation. We desire to diversify and enhance our relations in the fields of energy and renewable energy through new partnerships.
The natural gas contract signed between BOTAŞ and SONATRAK is a good example of this. We also see great potential in the defense industry. In our discussions today, we thoroughly evaluated what we can do in this field. We have expedited our efforts to complete the processes for opening Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Center in Algeria and Algerian Cultural Center in Türkiye.
We categorically reject the Israeli attacks that have turned into collective punishment and constitute war crimes. Our primary goal is to achieve a lasting ceasefire in Gaza and ensure uninterrupted humanitarian aid to the region. Targeting places that should be protected in every aspect, such as hospitals, places of worship, schools, forcing people to flee, is heartlessness and barbarism.
The establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem within the 1967 borders is now inevitable. In this direction, we will continue to do our best. Without resolving the Palestinian issue through a just political solution, it is not possible to establish permanent peace and stability in our region.
Both our Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Head of the National Intelligence Organization are continuing the process in collaboration with Qatar. Our hope is to achieve results in the exchange of hostages as soon as possible. We are in constant communication, and we expect positive outcomes from these efforts."