Venezuela and Turkey strengthen relations despite US sanctions

The two countries have signed three cooperation agreements in the educational and cultural fields

AFP PHOTO / PRESIDENCIA DE VENEZUELA / JHONANDER GAMARRA  -   Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) greeting Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu with a clash of elbows after a meeting at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas August 18, 2020

The Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Félix Plasencia, has visited his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Turkey in order to further strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. This came after signing a series of cooperation agreements related to education and culture in a gesture of "strengthening bilateral ties".

These agreements relate to the development of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), the Simon Bolivar Institute for Peace and Solidarity of Venezuela and the Strategic Research Centre of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, Turkey has supported the construction of a hospital in Venezuela for the exclusive treatment of COVID-19, as well as a school pact. 

AP/ARIANA CUBILLOS - In this Dec. 3, 2018 file photo, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a thumbs-up as he embraces Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro

In a statement to the media, Cavusoglu showed his support for the government, saying that they have "strong relations with the Venezuelan administration. We are friends with all the Venezuelan people. We support the talks between the government and the opposition", he stressed.

Cavusoglu emphasised the importance of Venezuela's regional and local elections to be held at the end of November and affirmed that the European Union's decision to send international observers to ensure that they are carried out is a "positive" disposition. He also assured that "Turkey's participation in this process would be an honour".

PHOTO/REUTERS - A man walks past a closed gas station of state oil company PDVSA in San Cristobal, Venezuela, May 17, 2019.

The Turkish minister said that they would send their own "delegation of observers and we will contribute to the transparency of the elections". Subsequently, Cavusoglu invited Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to visit the country.

During his visit to Turkey, Plasencia promised to continue strengthening ties between the two states, reiterating that there is "an effort to strengthen relations between our countries to increase cooperation and solidarity", stressing that "the government of Nicolás Maduro is deepening investment and trade". 

PHOTO/AFP - In this file photo taken on May 25, 2020, the Iranian-flagged oil tanker Fortune is docked at the El Palito refinery after its arrival in Puerto Cabello, in the northern state of Carabobo, Venezuela.

After taking up his post as foreign minister last August, Plasencia's trip to Turkey is a vestige of the close relationship that the two states have been forging for years. Last year it was the turn of Cavusoglu, who visited Venezuela to deliver aid to combat COVID. 

The fact that Turkey and Venezuela maintain close relations is a reflection of the deep enmity between the US and Venezuela. It is not surprising to say that Washington is fiercely opposed to the social communist government of Nicolás Maduro and supports the opposition. Moreover, the US continues to sanction Venezuela, including its oil industry, actions that have recently been criticised by Cavusoglu.

PHOTO/REUTERS - Members of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) hold a Venezuelan flag, banners and portraits of late President Hugo Chavez as they rally in support of President Nicolas Maduro's government in Istanbul, Turkey Jan. 26, 2019

The Venezuelan delegate will continue his trip to Belgrade, where he will participate in a meeting to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Although the US is Turkey's NATO ally, Turkey has not hesitated to continue building relations with Venezuela, which continues to receive Iranian fuel. In this regard, both Iran and Venezuela remain subject to US sanctions, which has led to strong ties between the two countries. 

According to the State Department spokesman, these shipments by Iran are intended to help Maduro's government, and he has stated that the United States "will continue to use the full economic and diplomatic power of the United States to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy".

Latin america coordinator: José Antonio Sierra