Today we proudly celebrate the 98th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Drawing upon the nation’s deep-rooted statehood experience, the Republic of Turkey ushered a new era in Turkish history, and represented a novel example for the world in an enthusiastic age of contemporary transformation in statehood and polity.
The successful model of transformation embodied in the Turkish experience was indeed the culmination of a long-continuing process of modernization efforts. The Turkish revolution in 1923 inherited and unified separate layers of innovation at all segments of state and society, and elevated it to the level of modern nation state in all its components.
Atatürk’s modern Turkish Republic pursued a constructive and progressive foreign policy in an age of extremes, where irredentism and aggression were on the rise all over Europe. The motto set in Turkish foreign policy of the time “Peace at Home, Peace in the World” continues to guide Turkish diplomacy today.
Turkish foreign policy-makers in early years of the young Republic expended great efforts to render cooperation and interaction sustainable in our vicinity. This understanding proved efficient in regional diplomacy and generated the Balkan Entente of 1934, where Turkey and Romania, hand-in-hand, paved the way to the birth of a solidarity pact in South East Europe.
The constructive diplomacy of the Turkish Republic placed the young state among the major actors of Europe in the post-war period. Turkey stood out among the founding states of significant European multilateral institutions including the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Turkey continues to actively contribute to the efforts to address multiple challenges that affect Europe and beyond.
Crises have never been so subversive and widespread as they are today. While rivalries between major powers accelerate, multilateralism and universal values are in decline. With the international political and social landscape lacking a sustainable global governance mechanism, rising inequalities and fragilities in our vicinity are the major questions that need to be addressed.
Before this background, Turkish diplomacy has adapted itself through the “Enterprising and Humanitarian Foreign Policy”.
Prioritizing humanitarian needs in diplomacy is well reflected in our developmental and aid programmes. We are currently the largest humanitarian donor in the world and the most generous country on the basis of per capita humanitarian spending. Turkey hosted the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in İstanbul in 2016.
In the same vein, Turkey is the top refugee hosting country in the world. It hosts more than four million externally displaced people, approximately 3.7 million of whom are Syrians under temporary protection. Turkey has spent more than 40 billion USD to provide aid and services to the Syrians. Within this context, Turkey supports their voluntary and dignified return to Syria. Our efforts have paved the way for hundreds of thousands of Syrians to return to their homes.
Turkey hosts multilateral events as an instrument to follow up the efficiency of its own foreign policy, as well as global diplomacy. These platforms provide the international community with the regular opportunities to oversee the course of our globe through a variety of different perspectives.
Within this context, the Antalya Diplomacy Forum is designed as an innovative platform to exchange views on global and regional issues and provide solutions to key foreign policy issues. The ADF has already started to contribute to the global agenda and the world of policy debate. Minister Bogdan Aurescu was among the prominent guests of this year’s gathering where he contributed as a panellist in the session “A New Era in Transatlantic Relations”.
Turkey’s efficient presence in the G20 since its inception exemplifies our active diplomacy. In line with our commitment for interaction with actors from all regions we capitalize on the G20 to promote the humanitarian-development nexus and equitable distribution of global wealth.
Conflict resolution and mediation is one area where Turkey contributes tangibly. Turkey co-chairs the Friends of Mediation Groups at the UN, OSCE and the OIC. “Istanbul Mediation Conference” series that we host annually make conceptual contributions to the field.
Despite conjunctural developments and ups-downs, Turkey continues to pursue full membership to the European Union as a priority goal. We consider the transatlantic link vital for security and prosperity in Europe. As a leading and active member of NATO, we contribute fundamentally to the principle of “the indivisibility of security”. As such, Turkey is among the top five contributors to NATO operations and top eight contributors to the Alliance’s budget.
Bearing the responsibility for multi-directional projection towards a variety of vicinities, Turkey incorporates the principle of regional ownership for solutions to regional problems. We are among the founding members of several regional organizations and initiatives, including the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the South East European Cooperation Process. We enjoy close and intense cooperation with Romania in those processes.
Romania occupies a traditionally prominent place in Turkish foreign policy map as a good neighbour and ally. Dating back to the proclamation of modern Romania, the Turkish Embassy in Bucharest proudly represents the solidarity and everlasting interaction between our Governments and Nations. In 2018, we celebrated the 140th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, as well as the 140th birthday of our Embassy.
Turkey and Romania traditionally act as two key actors with constructive and stable policies in South East Europe and the Black Sea basin. The special relationship between Turkey and Romania continued during the inter-war period and survived under the restrictions imposed by the Cold War.
Our relations displayed a rapid growth in the 1990’s. Conventional solidarity ushered a brand-new era in South East Europe, which was characterized by a sound model of cooperation in a multitude of fields and dimensions.
The close ties between Turkey and Romania generate a common vision for the future. Our joint presence under NATO umbrella produces accurate and insightful outcome. I am proud to refer to how Turkey was insistent and effective in NATO to facilitate Romania’s accession process. Turkey’s solid support went as far as adopting legislation in its Parliament in 1998 to emphasise the significance of NATO’s open-door policy so that Romania could join in the upcoming round.
Our common transatlantic vision was crowned by the Strategic Partnership Declaration signed in 2011. This year we celebrate 10th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership. Among a series of continuing activities at various levels, the major prominent event to mark this occasion was the Joint Conference co-opened by Ministers Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Bogdan Aurescu in April 2021, when Minister Çavuşoğlu visited Bucharest for the most recent Trilateral Foreign Ministerial Meeting of Turkey, Romania and Poland.
Turkish-Romanian collaboration under the transatlantic link generated a successful consultation platform. The Turkey-Romania-Poland Trilateral Mechanism will celebrate its 10th Anniversary in 2022; with 7 Ministerial Meetings held so far and its extension to the level of National Security Advisors. It is a sound evidence of how our joint presence under NATO brings in a multi-dimensional umbrella of security for our vicinity. The working session with Georgia and Ukraine in the margins of this year’s Trilateral Ministerial Meeting demonstrated the regional and multilateral character of our platform, marking its prominence for a wider region. Therefore, it is appropriate to underline the demonstrated fact that Turkish-Romanian relations bear substantial significance for our peoples and offer additional venues for the friendly nations in our joint vicinity.
Furthermore, the visit of Turkish Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar to Romania on 8-9 March set another timely opportunity to mark our strategic partnership and discuss further collaboration opportunities in the field of security and defence.
Today, our sound cooperation in NATO has reached new heights. NATO’s VJTF Command, assumed by Turkish Armed Forces this year, has provided us a very good opportunity to display a vivid example of strong cooperation and interoperability. The Steadfast Defender 21 multi-national exercise, organized as part of the VJTF in May-June 2021 in Cincu was led by the Turkish Armed Forces, as a symbol of our mutual trust and joint contributions to collective security and stability.
The exceptional level of our relations offers fruitful benefits in many areas. Among them, our economic collaboration and interaction is the first to come to mind. We have increased our mutual trade volume despite the pandemic conditions. Reaching the mutual trade volume of USD 7 billion-level this year, Romania has attained the position of being our largest trading partner in Central and Eastern Europe.
Energy is an equally significant area where Turkey and Romania have a clear perspective to cooperate and contribute to regional development. The natural gas resources we have explored in our exclusive economic zone in the Black Sea will contribute to our efforts to enhance self-reliance in the energy field. It also bears the potential to enhance Europe’s natural gas supply security. We are ready to cooperate with Romania and other neighbours in the region.
Our fellow citizens and kinsmen constitute an important pillar of our close friendship. The large Turkish business community in Romania represents a well-settled group of investors, traders and professionals who are proud to call Romania their second home. The Turkish community in Romania is a living example of our strategic partnership. Romania’s Turkish-Tatar community sets the other strong pillar of the humanitarian bond between our two countries. With their centuries-old presence in this country and the appreciable practices implemented by Romania through the Dobrogea model, the Turkish-Tatar minority displays a brilliant example of integration as proud and patriotic citizens of Romania.
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership, we continue to develop our collaboration to new heights on the basis of traditional affiliation between our peoples.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s vision for peace, stability and good neighbourly relations continue to lead our way. The modern dynamics of our sound collaboration will continue to stand as a pillar of stability and development for our entire region.