Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been critical of his country’s past ties with Arab states. In a broad sense, he criticized previous Turkish governments for turning their backs on the country’s Muslim neighbors and casting Turkey’s weight in favor of the Jewish state. Based on that premise, Erdogan restructured Turkey’s foreign policy, despite concerns from inside and outside the country of a potential shift from West to East. Instead, Erdogan argued that he was just normalizing the situation and keeping the country’s relationships balanced.
With that vision, the Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum was established to further enhance the relationship between Turkey and Arab League countries on political, security, economic, cultural and social development issues. The first forum was held in Istanbul in October 2008, bringing together foreign ministers of the region. Subsequent meetings were held in December 2009 in Damascus, Syria, in June 2010 in Istanbul, Turkey, in November 2011 in Rabat, Morocco, and last year in Istanbul.