In recognition of Turkey’s growing diplomatic and economic clout in global affairs, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei paid a four-day visit to Turkey accompanied by a high-level delegation in an effort to further improve bilateral ties, especially in economic relations.
In Turkey at the invitation of President Abdullah Gül, Bolkiah met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in İstanbul on Saturday. The venue of the meeting was the historic Dolmabahçe Palace on the Bosporus as the prime minister has an office there. Erdoğan’s meeting with Bolkiah lasted around an hour and 10 minutes and was closed to the press.
Prime Minister Erdoğan told the press that they discussed bilateral relations and regional issues, including the year-long Syrian crisis, and exchanged views. The issue of how to boost economic relations constituted the core of the meeting, he noted. Erdoğan stated that current trade volume is about $8 million. He said the Brunei Sultan increased his economic investment in Turkey in recent years and would invest much more in years to come. Erdoğan said he hopes the relations will further flourish with more visits between the countries.
As the prime minister left for a visit to China on Saturday after the meeting, Turkey’s Minister for European Union Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış accompanied the Brunei Sultan on his tour of İstanbul. Bağış told the press on Sunday that Turkey and Brunei are entering a period in which commercial, cultural and political relations will increase. Speaking to reporters while leaving Bolkiah’s hotel, Bağış pointed out that the Sultan had come to Turkey for the first time. According to him, the longevity of the visit proves its significance for bilateral relations, which need to be further developed in all aspects. Sultan Bolkiah will hold official talks in Ankara after visiting İstanbul, Bağış added.
Seizing the opportunity in his four-day visit, the Brunei Sultan took a trip in İstanbul to see the historical part of the city. During the trip, Bolkiah was accompanied by Bağış. Bolkiah went to Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The imam of the Blue Mosque welcomed the guest sultan and his crew and gave information about the historic mosque. During his walk to the Hagia Sophia museum, Bolkiah allowed journalists to take photos of him and his companion, Bağış.
A small island with a population of roughly 400,000, Brunei is a prosperous country as it enjoys a huge income from oil. Bolkiah is one of the richest politicians in the world in terms of personal income. Brunei citizens enjoy free services in education and medicine as well as being free of income tax.