H.E. Mr. Nihat Zeybekci, Minister of Economy of the Republic of Turkey:
October 29 marks the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1923 and it is a symbol of the beginning of a new era in our country’s history. Today, we are celebrating the 91st anniversary of our Republic with great joy and pride.
The Republic is the fruit of the existential struggle of the Turkish nation, made under the leadership of great commander Atatürk.
The goal of the Republic of Turkey is laid forth as “attaining the level of contemporary civilization” by the founders, an objective which we at present, still strongly adhere to. This vision necessitates a strong economy for a full success, and closer cooperation with all of our trade and economic partners.
Presently, Turkey is the 17th biggest economy in the world and has set targets to achieve at the centenary of the Republic.
I am confident that by the time we celebrate the 100th anniversary of our Republic, Turkey will become one of the leading economies of the world. In that year, we aim reaching at 2 trillion dollars of GDP, 25.000 dollars of GDP per capita, 500 billion dollars of export sales of goods, 150 billion dollars of export sale of services, an unemployment rate below 5% and a single digit inflation rate.
As working harder on the economy front, Turkey develops its economic relations with the neighboring countries. Among those, Romania has a special place, as relations are grounded on a common history and culture.
Obviously, the relationship between Romania and Turkey has its roots deep in history and geography as our people lived together over the centuries in the same region. This very much facilitates and supports the strong partnership, which we aim to build with Romania upon our common experience.
In fact, after 1989, we witnessed an ever-ascending trend over the years.
Turkey constantly supported Romania‘s candidature for NATO and Romania participated for the first time as a NATO member at the Istanbul Summit in June 2004. In its turn, Romania supports Turkey’s aspirations for European integration.
In this context, every effort is being made to expand and reflect the excellent political relations between Turkey and Romania to economic and commercial areas.
We must emphasize the quality of the high level dialogue between Turkey and Romania. Almost every year since 1991, there have been exchanges of visits at either Presidential or Prime Ministerial level. There are countless Ministerial level visits. I visited Romania last month and met with Prime Minister H.E. Victor Ponta and other Minister colleagues as well as representatives of the business world. This visit was very fruitful and I had the chance to communicate various topics of cooperation at the highest levels. I noted that both countries enjoy a very privileged status of bilateral relations.
In fact, our relations were crowned with the Strategic Partnership Declaration, which was signed in Ankara on 12 December 2011 by Presidents of our countries. Later, the Strategic Partnership Action Plan was signed in Ankara on 14 March 2013 in order to materialize the objectives set forth in the Declaration. The “Strategic Partnership” established between the two countries and the respective Action Plan are effective tools for the enhancement of economic cooperation, leading to successful businesses developed by investors and businessmen of the two countries.
In addition, the Turkish-Romanian Joint Economic Commission (JEC) is another platform where, specifically, economic and trade relations are discussed and stake holders are brought together.
The dedicated ongoing work carried out by the Governments, investors and businessmen of both countries is reflected in the statistics.
As the Governments in both countries are laying the foundations and preparing the ground for improving business environment, Romanian and Turkish businessmen, who have been actively working together since 1989 have become the most important asset in further developing Turkish-Romanian economic relations. Indeed, they have come a long way.
The trade volume between the two countries, which was only 873 million dollars in 2001, reached to 6.2 billion dollars in 2013, showing a remarkable development in the last decade. As a trading partner, Turkey ranks number one for Romania after the EU. The two governments agreed on 10 billion dollars of trade volume target for the coming years, given the existing potential in both countries.
Furthermore, the Turkish investments in Romania in recent years soared considerably. There are currently more than 10 thousand Turkish companies operating in Romania having a capital of about 5 billion dollars. There is a wide spectrum of Turkish companies from small and medium-sized enterprises to large scale businesses operating in Romania in many different areas like retail trade, manufacture and service sectors, reflecting the confidence shown in the Romanian economy. Finance, transportation, white goods, wood industries, food production, agriculture, construction, media and health industries are among the wide range of sectors where Turkish companies have been operating.
These figures however, still do not reflect the actual potentials of our two countries. We should continue to work for increasing these investment figures to a level that two friendly economies have.
There is a Turkish saying that: “The newest is always acceptable, except friendship”, just as the Romanian proverb which reads: “A faithful friend is hard to find, remember man and keep in mind”.
This understanding in these proverbs reflects the spirit of friendship and cooperation between our countries and puts the responsibility of further improvement of bilateral relations upon our shoulders.
Keeping these in mind, I would like to re-emphasize my conviction for the bright future of Turkish-Romanian bilateral relations in all fields. I have no doubt that we will achieve the desired level of economic and trade cooperation between our countries before the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.