By Askin Kiyagan
Turkey's ambassador to Austria said Ankara and Vienna turned "a new page" in relations with the meeting of the countries’ foreign ministers in Istanbul this January.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Austrian counterpart Karin Kneissl met on Jan. 25 after months of tensions between the two countries.
"We now prefer to talk directly with each other rather than talking to others," Ambassador Mehmet Ferden Carikci told Anadolu Agency in an interview. "Never in history have we rejected a friendly hand offered to us."
Ties between the two countries soured in 2016 due to Austrian restrictions on Turkish politicians who wanted to campaign in the country ahead of a key referendum in Turkey. The campaign targeted Turkish nationals living in Austria.
Ankara has also sharply criticized Vienna for what it considers illiberal integration policies as well as its populistic rhetoric and failure to take a strong stance against growing racism and Islamophobia.
On January’s meeting, Carikci said a very important economic decision was made: "The Joint Economy Commission mechanism between the two countries will be revived."
"It’s been seven years since this was last held, in 2011 in Vienna. There’s ongoing work in this area which will benefit both sides," Carikci said.
Despite recent political bumps, Carikci said economic ties have continued to develop, bringing the bilateral trade volume to some €2.6 billion ($3.2 billion).
"Austria is one of the largest foreign investors in Turkey," he said, "Austrian investors are well acquainted with the Turkish market, and investments continued after the July 2016 failed coup attempt."
Carikci said last year Turkey saw €306 million (nearly $376 million) in investment from Austria. "And a new deal for €400 million ($492 million) was signed.”
"This shows that Austrian investors know the Turkish market, and trust it," he added.
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