It is a distinct pleasure to celebrate the 94th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in Bucharest with our Romanian friends. October 29, 1923 marks the birth of modern Turkey and the culmination of a four-year long struggle for independence. From then onwards, the people of the young Republic joined forces to realize the vision of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to establish a modern, democratic and secular state. Thanks to their resolute efforts a profound transformation was achieved in every facet of life through reforms that firmly anchored Turkey in the modern world. Today, as we celebrate this day with pride and joy, we remember once again with deep gratitude the architects of modern Turkey. We remain true to their ideal to build a democratic, secular, and prosperous country.
In line with this ideal, Turkey pursues a proactive foreign policy focused on promoting peace, stability, and security in its region and beyond. We try to strengthen interdependence by expanding links between governments, economies, and societies. We strive to build stronger partnerships in fighting against common challenges and threats, like terrorism and irregular migration. Indeed, as we are passing through turbulent times in our wider region, the need for closer cooperation is more pressing than ever. The Turkish-Romanian relations stand out positively in this respect.
As strategic partners and allies within NATO, Turkey and Romania enjoy close relations based on common values, mutual interests, and a shared vision for the future. This sound foundation, coupled with mutual trust and strong political will, created the dynamics of an ever-expanding cooperation covering a wide range of fields. From the Turkish companies operating in different corners of Romania to regular contacts between our militaries, from reciprocal visits of various institutions to cultural events and social exchanges, this cooperation is visible at all levels.
The Turkish-Romanian cooperation goes much beyond bilateral level. We work together in a broad geography spanning the Balkans, Black Sea, the Caucasus and Afghanistan. We also maintain close coordination and cooperation at international fora including the UN, NATO, OSCE, and BSEC. As Black Sea neighbours we have a shared interest to keep our common region stable and secure, and as allies we put joint efforts in this direction. We value the trilateral cooperation framework with Poland that serves as a useful consultation mechanism in coordinating policies. We also appreciate Romania’s support to Turkey’s EU vocation.
The most dynamic part of bilateral cooperation has been the economic and trade relations. Indeed, since the early 1990s our entrepreneurs have actively sought to use and develop the existing potential for cooperation, pushing for higher levels of economic integration. Today we are happy to see the concrete results of these joint efforts: Currently, Turkey is the 5th largest trading partner of Romania and the biggest one outside the EU. Our annual bilateral trade volume is close to 5 billion USD. We believe we have a strong basis to build on to reach the mutually set target of 10 billion USD trade volume.
On the investment front, Romania continues to be a major destination for Turkish businesses. Currently more than 14.000 Turkish companies are registered in Romania in a wide range of sectors, including banking, machinery, home appliances, construction, glass and wood production, textiles, transportation, tourism, agriculture, food processing, health, and media. The total investments of Turkish companies in Romania, both direct and indirect, exceed 6 billion USD. We expect the contribution of the Turkish companies to the Romanian economy to grow stronger with the completion of the ongoing and planned investment projects.
Besides the economic field, Turkey’s presence has also become visible in social and cultural areas through the work of Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). Since 2015, as part of our Embassy, TIKA has been successfully implementing projects, covering such fields as culture, education, health, and local government. In partnership with relevant Romanian institutions, TIKA has also assumed commendable work to preserve the common cultural heritage objects.
Cultural relations and social exchanges constitute another important layer of our relations cementing the already existing friendly ties. The shared history and geography have created cultural and social affinities between our peoples. Today, we have more than 2.000 common words, including geographical names, common dishes in our cuisines, and many shared traditions. This interaction continues today in all its intensity. Turkey remains one of the top tourist destinations for Romanians, with close to half a million Romanian tourists visiting Turkey every year. The number of regular weekly flights between Istanbul and Romanian cities surpassed 50. Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centers in Bucharest and Constanta as well as the Romanian Cultural Institute „Dimitrie Cantemir” in Istanbul continue to promote our cultures and languages on an institutional basis.
Obviously, the strongest human bond between our two countries is the Turkish-Tatar community and the growing Turkish expat community. As an integral part of the Romanian society, they have been contributing both to Romania’s development and to the strengthening of Turkish-Romanian relations. In this context, I would like to commend once again the exemplary policy of the Romanian authorities towards the Turkish-Tatar minority.
Resting on such solid, diverse, and dynamic background, Turkish-Romanian relations will continue to develop to the benefit of our peoples. In the midst of rising challenges, our countries will continue to be factors of stability and security in their wider regions.
In this special supplement for the Turkish National Day, you will find messages from the representatives of the larger Embassy family as well as articles on different aspects of the rich Turkish culture that I hope you will enjoy. I thank Nine O’Clock for this opportunity.
Long live the Turkish-Romanian partnership!