Our long-established friendship with strong roots deep entrenched in a landscape of complex international relations stands out as one pillar of unwavering solidarity. Turkish-Romanian friendship dates centuries back in history. However, proclamation of Turkish Republic on 29 October 1923 marks the beginning of a modern era in our bilateral relations.
We have so far enjoyed the best practices of good neighbourhood and solidarity built up on the ground laid by our forefathers. Great Leader Atatürk signified the prominent place of Romania in Turkish Foreign Policy with his consistent and careful attention. This good relationship in the difficult years of 1920’s and 1930’s culminated in the visit of King Carol II to Turkey in June 1938. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, although seriously ill by that time, denied his doctor’s advice and met with the King of Romania.
Noting Atatürk’s personal gestures to Romania as topic of a separate article, his modern Turkish Republic sealed the everlasting amity between our two countries. Turkish-Romanian joint conscience for solidarity against aggressors of the time injected a new impetus towards a collective journey for regional security and stability. Brought into life by the distinctive diplomacy of our forefathers, the Balkan Entente exemplified a most valuable regional initiative in an era of extreme belligerence all over the world.
Our attachment to good neighbourhood and solidarity as a shield against external instability ever since perpetuates to guide us. Irrespective of conjunctural challenges and difficulties, close relationship between Turkey and Romania serves as a factor of balance and stability in our region. Friendship and interaction between our peoples continued to grow; peaceful co-existence in the same geography, with a common history, shared wishes and joint hopes lay the basis.
In our current era of growing uncertainties and volatilities, Turkey’s ability to adapt to multiple and simultaneous challenges steers our foreign policy. Humanitarian ideals, equity, principles of a rules-based international order and effective multilateralism set the core of this policy. Contemporary Turkish diplomacy blends political positions with economic collaboration, and aligns cultural exchanges with humanitarian interaction. Such amalgamation of mutually complementary notions brings in a large global network of almost 250 diplomatic and consular missions all around the world.
This wide outreach helps Turkey develop an all-encompassing set of connections with the world. It further strengthens her ties with the governments and peoples in her immediate vicinity, and also neighbouring regions. It also helps her develop close ties to far away regions. Doing this, Turkey adopts a multi-layered paradigm. An amalgamation of soft-power elements with multilateralism provide the adequate basis of our diplomacy.
Turkey is a staunch ally of NATO, defending the Southern borders of the Alliance for seven decades. Turkey’s position among the top five contributors to NATO’s operations, reflects the significance she attributes to the transatlantic link. Turkey sees the transatlantic link crucial not only for a holistic security approach, but also for democratic development and prosperity. Promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law is an indispensable component of this integrated paradigm. Consistently, she is a founding member of the Council of Europe, and a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) since its very inception.
Integration with Europe is Turkey’s goal in line with her historic vocation. Marking the interdependence between Turkey and the EU in political and geostrategic terms, and the changing security environment around Europe and the Union’s aspiration to gain capability for more effective roles in the face of global contemporary challenges, renders Turkey’s inclusion mutually beneficial, all the more congruent.
Our engagement with multilateralism covers a 360 degree angle with presence representing a broad geographic range. Our inclusion in the MIKTA informal platform, as well as our status as Sectoral Dialogue Partner in the ASEAN are two examples of our global outreach.
Mediation is one component of contemporary international relations where Turkey stands out. We co-chair groups of friends of mediation at the UN, OSCE and the OIC. The most recent edition of the İstanbul Mediation Conference series was held last month.
Regional formats are modern manifestations of our historic commitment to regional solidarity. Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) are two regional initiatives which Turkey pioneered. We stand cohesively with Romania in these platforms to promote multilateral diplomacy in our vicinity.
Her unique geostrategic location puts Turkey at the core of contemporary asymmetric challenges. Among all, irregular migration is under spotlight of global community. Turkey hosts the largest number of externally displaced people in the world. Out of an approximate 4 million EDPs whom Turkey accommodates on her own territory, 3,6 million Syrians constitute ninty percent. So far, the total amount we have spent for our Syrian guests has exceeded USD 40 billions. The first ever World Humanitarian Summit was held in Istanbul in 2016 stand on top of our efforts to increase awareness at the global level to this phenomenon.
Notwithstanding, pandemics has reminded us the fragility of humanity, and, the interdependence that the members of the world nations family rely upon. Passing through an unprecedented chapter in history, we gladly witness the generous and embracing hand of our nations reaching out to each other. In this regard, Turkey responded promptly to the call by her allies and partners for medical assistance. Turkish medical equipment landed in several capitals in Europe in urgent humanitarian responsibility.
Turkish Foreign Policy entails particular attention to her bilateral relations with the countries in immediate vicinity. Romania’s exceptional significance is a culmination of our centuries-old neighbourhood, alliance under the NATO umbrella, and partnerships in regional and international platforms.
Turkey-Romania relations traject durability further beyond their borders. Being located on a most fragile and turbulent geography, bilateral cooperation and solidarity have consistently prevailed. We finally attained the level of Strategic Partnership in 2011. Next year, we will celebrate its decennial anniversary. We wish to cherish it with a mutually agreed framework to further expand and deepen.
High frequency of mutual visits at every level set a key component of our close relations. Unfortunately, Covid-19 pandemics have obliged us with the rest of the world to diminish physical meetings and temporarily prefer online contacts instead.
Nevertheless, this unprecedented situation provided yet another venue to display our traditional solidarity. Turkish medical equipment reached Romania in several parties in military aircrafts. Although measures against Covid-19 restricted import of medical equipment out of Turkey, our authorities enabled the transfer through special and exceptional export permissions issued exclusively upon Romania’s request. We gladly demonstrated a best practice for good neighborhood in a strenous time.
Addressing a complex set of regional and international issues, Turkish-Romanian collaboration is in well congruence with our presence in transatlantic institutions. Security in the Black Sea area is a common priority. Trilateral consultation mechanism with Poland is a solid platform in this regard. It covers a north-south line stretching from Baltics to Black Sea enhancing the transatlantic link. Minister Çavuşoğlu met with Minister Aurescu and Minister Czaputowicz last April in the most recent Trilateral Ministerial meeting in the video-conference format.
Economic and trade relations set a distinct pillar in our cooperation. Turkish entrepreneurs who came to Romania after 1989 were duly provided with an encouraging environment by Romania. Today, over 15.000 Turkish companies are registered with a total investment of an approximate USD 7 billion. As of the end of 2019, our bilateral trade volume reached the level of USD 6,84 billion, consolidating Turkey’s position as one of the largest trading partners of Romania and among the biggest outside the EU. As for 2020, we already hit a mutual volume of USD 3,51 billion as of July, despite the difficult conditions pandemics imposes. We look forward to bringing back our business communities physically together again under The Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) once the pandemic conditions improve.
Turkish-Tatar community in Romania set another strong bond between our two countries. Utilizing the best inclusive practices through the Dobrogea Model for co-existence of minorities, Turkish-Tatar minority demonstrates a brilliant example of integration to Romania.
Turkey and Romania are two pillars of stability and security between the South East Europe and the Black Sea basin. Historic bonds between our peoples and centuries-old co-existence in our region with strong humane ties and solidarity will continue to exemplify what kind of values a good neighborly relation must draw upon. Our Strategic Partnership, cooperation in the security domain and economic interaction will set its future profound base.
I pay tribute to the founding father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. His legacy for lasting solidarity between Turkey and Romania guides us. Long live the Turkish Republic!