Although relations between Turkey and Kuwait were established in 1969, they have only really begun to warm up in recent years. Both countries are increasingly recognising the importance of the other and are acting quickly to brush aside disagreements that may otherwise act as a hindrance to a stable relationship.
Relations between Turkey and Kuwait were established in 1969 after the accreditation of the Turkish Embassy in Beirut to Kuwait. However, until recently, their relationship had not really shown signs of significant growth. Advancements in the relationship between both states were revealed in 2005 when Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, made his first visit to Kuwait in order to improve cooperation. In the same year, Kuwait’s new Consul General, Sheikh Fahd Al-Sabah, arrived in Turkey seeking to “play an active role in boosting Kuwaiti-Turkish relations at various levels”.
Due to shared senses of vulnerability to the repercussions of warring countries in the Middle East, both Turkey and Kuwait have shown similar interests in terms of geopolitical developments in the region, with both states exposing similar views on things such as the civil war in Syria by supporting the end of the war and desiring a regime change.
In 2005, Kuwait also accepted NATO’s invitation as the first member state of the Gulf Cooperation Council to join the Istanbul cooperation initiative, which proves as being an important step for future improvements in the political relations between the two states. During Erdoğan’s visit to Kuwait in 2005, he signed an agreement to improve bilateral political and commercial ties. He also invited local investors from Kuwait to Turkey and explained the government initiatives implemented to make Turkey a more attractive investment destination.
Turkey and Kuwait have also been working together to expand their relationship’s mutual benefits, which lie in areas such as finance, banking and energy. In 2009, the Turkish-Kuwaiti Business Council first met, and since then has had regular meetings as a platform to advance economic cooperation between the two states. Furthermore, in 2010, the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement was signed to establish terms and conditions for private investments between both countries.
These advancements have had positive repercussions in the statics of trade between both states, with the economic relationship between Turkey and Kuwait having shown significant growth. The trade volume between Turkey and Kuwait was USD 165 million in 2002, by 2012 it had risen to USD 568 million and by 2013 direct foreign investment from Kuwait in Turkey had drastically shot up to USD 1.1 billion. Turkish Finance Minister, Mehmet Şimşek, has recently said, “our Kuwaiti brothers should see Turkey as a centre of investment”.
However, although success had been made in economic and political relations, Turkey and Kuwait disagree quite significantly on the future of Iraq’s political system, especially in terms of the centralisation and distribution of political power among Iraqi groups. Both countries also have differing views on the 2013 military coup in Egypt, with Ankara criticising the forced removal of Mohammed Morsi and Kuwait celebrating the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood leader by giving $2 billion in aid to Egypt after the stunt.
Nonetheless, relations between Turkey and Kuwait have certainly developed over recent year, with both countries seeming eager to further expand and avoid harming their relationship. Both countries have becoming increasingly important to one another, so in order to maintain stable relations, disagreements concerning other states are largely being brushed aside and seen as having nothing to do with the bilateral relations between Turkey and Kuwait.