It is a distinct pleasure to celebrate the 93rd anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey as the Turkish Ambassador in an important ally and strategic partner country. I thank Nine O’clock for the opportunity to share our joy with our Romanian friends and expat community through this special supplement.
On October 29, 1923, the Turkish Grand National Assembly proclaimed the Republic of Turkey and named Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who led the Turkish War of Independence to victory, as our first President. Since then, Turkey has undergone comprehensive and far-reaching political, economic and social reforms, which have unequivocally anchored Turkey among the democratic nations of the world.
On July 15 this year, we have witnessed a blatant attack to Turkey’s democratic institutions. The coup attempt by the clandestine FETÖ network against the legitimate Government and the constitutional order was the bloodiest one in the history of the Republic. Upon receiving the news of the attempted coup, Turkish people of all ages and creed took to the streets standing in front of tanks for their rights and freedoms. I would like to thank our Romanian friends who showed their support and solidarity after the botched coup attempt. As allies and strategic partners we have the capacity to stand together against any threat to our democracies.
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 not only old friends and neighbours but also close NATO allies and strategic partners sharing the same ideals and values. Increasing threats emanating from our region require common and swift responses, and we need to extend the axis of cooperation.
We work very closely on a broad geography spanning the Balkans, Black Sea, Caucasus, and the Middle East as well as on critical issues such as energy security, joint defence initiatives, regional security, fight against terrorism, and organized crime. Relations in political, military, and security fields continue to flourish based on strong mutual trust. In a difficult geography, these intense politico-military contacts will continue to flourish as a force for peace. Recent challenges in the Black Sea region and the Western Balkans require our joint vigilant endeavours. We also strive to strengthen NATO’s eastern and southern flanks. We continue to see the trilateral mechanism with Poland as a valuable strategic forum to strengthen our solidarity.
The number of high level visits, joint military exercises, economic, touristic and cultural exchanges only in the last year make Romania one of our most important partners in these fields. Reciprocal visits of the two Presidents in 2015 and 2016 reiterated the strong bilateral cooperation between our nations.
Our economic relations continue to flourish as our bilateral trade volume nears 6 billion Dollars. Turkey is the largest trading partner of Romania after the EU. In the overall ranking, Turkey is Romania’s fifth largest trading partner and sixth largest export market. More than 10 thousand Turkish companies operate here with an overall investment of about 6 billion Dollars, including indirect ones. 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. We already witness new investment decisions by major companies in various sectors.
People to people contacts and cultural exchanges continue to maintain an important basis of our friendly relations. Tourism is a booming field in bilateral relations as we host half a million Romanians in Turkey. In addition to daily flights from Istanbul to Bucharest and 4 weekly flights to Constanta, Turkish Airlines started direct flights to Cluj, its third destination in Romania. Together with the flights of TAROM and the Turkish private airline companies Pegasus and Atlas, there are more than 50 weekly flights between Romanian cities and Istanbul.
Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centers in Bucharest and Constanta as well as the Romanian Cultural Institute Dimitrie Cantemir in Istanbul promote Turkish and Romanian cultures and languages in both countries. Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency TIKA already completed more than 30 projects in its first two years of operation alone. TIKA projects in Romania cover a variety of areas, from culture to education, health, and local government. In this supplement, you will find messages from both institutions.
I should particularly highlight the valuable contributions of the Turkish – Tatar community as well as members of the Turkish expat community, who came here after the revolution in Romania. They serve 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.
As we pass through turbulent times globally and regionally, we need reliable partners and allies such as Romania in the face of multitude of challenges. I would like to thank our Romanian friends, once again, for their show of solidarity and support to Turkey in the last few months. I also thank the Nine O’clock family, for this opportunity.