By Ayhan Simsek BERLINTurkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak and his German counterpart Peter Altmaier have vowed to improve relations between their countries after months-long tensions. Speaking at a joint news conference in Berlin on Monday, Albayrak voiced hope for a new era in relations after Chancellor Angela Merkel formed a new coalition government last month. “For Turkey, Germany is a very important, indispensable partner,” he said. “As the new government took office in Germany, Turkey aims to foster a new era in relations, which would be more realistic, more rational, and benefiting both countries.”Albayrak expressed hope that Turkey and Germany would further enhance their cooperation in economy, trade and energy sectors. Altmaier, a close ally of Merkel, underlined the importance of closer cooperation between both countries at a time of growing uncertainty in the Middle East. “Minister Albayrak and I agreed to deepen our cooperation,” he said and highlighted great opportunities for both countries in areas of environmental policy, climate protection, and renewable energy. Altmaier announced the Turkey-Germany Energy Forum, a major gathering of energy companies from both countries, will convene in the coming months. Political relations between Ankara and Berlin suffered several setbacks in recent years, but both sides took steps in the recent month towards normalization of ties. EU heavyweight Germany is Turkey’s main economic and trade partner. In 2017, the bilateral trade volume reached €37.6 billion ($46.5 billion). Around 7,150 German companies are currently active in Turkey.