It is a distinct pleasure to celebrate the 92nd anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey as the Turkish Ambassador to an ally and strategic partner of ours. I thank Nine O’clock for the opportunity to share our joy with our Romanian friends and expat community through this special supplement.
Following the war of National Liberation after the First World War, modern Turkey was founded on October 29, 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, one of the greatest leaders of the last century. We still cherish his memory and continue to walk along the path he laid towards a prosperous and democratic country. As we approach to the centenary of the Republic, we are proud to have a country of more than 75 million that could merge tradition with modernity, with a vibrant democracy and strong economy, with young and dynamic population, as well as successful entrepreneurs, some of which live here in Romania.
Our drive to more democracy and prosperity has faced challenges. However, despite occasional setbacks, our nation managed to move forward. We are once again witnessing the rise of instability factors, notably terrorism of different kinds, both in our neighborhood and inside the country, testing our abilities, cohesion, and the strength of ties with our allies. Yet, as was proven time and again, thanks to the perseverance of our nation, the great legacy that we inherited, and our robust ties with our allies, we will leave these challenges behind us and will emerge even stronger. Taking this opportunity, I express my sincere gratitude to the Romanian leaders and friends, as well as members of the diplomatic corps for their strong messages of condolence and solidarity following the heinous terrorist attack in Ankara this month claiming more than hundred innocent lives.
It has been a year since I assumed my duties as Ambassador of Turkey. It is a true privilege to be able to serve in this beautiful capital. Turkey and Romania enjoy a multi-dimensional relationship. From strong political and military dialogue to security relations, from economic and commercial ties to intense contacts in tourism, from cultural field to people-to-people contacts, we experience a constant progress in various fields every passing year.
We are allies and strategic partners. We work very closely on a broad geography spanning the Balkans, Black Sea, Caucasus, and the Middle East as well as on critical issues, including energy security, joint defense initiatives, regional security, fight against terrorism, and organized crime. Relations in political, military, and security fields continue to flourish based on strong mutual trust. The number of high level visits and joint military exercises and exchanges only in the last year makes Romania one of our most important partners in these fields. In a difficult geography, these intense politico-military contacts will continue to flourish as a force for peace. As strong partners within NATO, we also value the trilateral dialogue mechanism among Turkey, Romania, and Poland.
During the past one year, while we hosted in Turkey His Excellencies Romanian Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Energy, Minister of Environment, and Minister of Defence, Romania hosted His Excellencies the Turkish President, Foreign Minister, Interior Minister, Economy Minister, Labor Minister and President of the Constitutional Court.
Economic ties continue to be an important pillar of bilateral relations. As two growing economies, the bilateral trade surpassed 6 billion dollars last year, making Turkey the largest trading partner of Romania after the EU. In the overall ranking, Turkey is Romania’s fifth largest trading partner and fourth largest export market. More than 10 thousand Turkish companies operate here with an overall investment of about 6 billion Dollars, including the investments coming from third countries. They operate in a wide range of sectors, including finance, banking, white good manufacturing, industry, glass production, wood production, construction, real estate, food processing, health, and media. Our active business community is a strong force in bolstering our relations. As our economies continue to grow, Turkish investments in Romania will grow as well.
People to people contacts and cultural exchanges continue to flourish as well. Our long shared history provided us many strengths that serve as a strong dynamic in our current relations. That 6 daily flights between İstanbul and Bucharest can hardly meet the demand is just one concrete example of the intensity of the contacts. Tourism is a booming field in bilateral relations as we host half a million Romanians in Turkey. Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centers in Bucharest and Constanta as well as Romanian Cultural Institute Dimitrie Cantemir in Istanbul promote Turkish and Romanian cultures and languages in both countries. As a historic development, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency TIKA opened an office in Bucharest this year and already started assuming projects in various fields, including sports, education, and local administration. In this supplement, you will find messages from both institutions.
I should particularly highlight the valuable contributions of the Turkish – Tatar minority in Romania, serving as a strong cultural and social bridge between our nations. We are proud of their contribution to Romania and the Romanian society. I would also like to reiterate our appreciation for the positive approach of the Romanian authorities towards them. We are also happy to witness that the members of the Turkish community, who came here after the revolution, are also well integrated into the Romanian society.
Given the foregoing, I am confident that these exemplary relations will continue to flourish to the benefit of our friendly nations and will serve as a valuable asset for peace and prosperity in our common geography. I thank the Nine O’clock family, all Romanian friends, and my colleagues, who join us today to share our joy and pride.