Speech Delivered By H.e. Ambassador Dr. Tuncay Babali On The Occasion Of The 90th Anniversary Of The Proclamation Of The Republic Of Turkey
General Thomas J. Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces,
Honorable Members of the Parliament of Canada
Esteemed members of the diplomatic community,
Dear guests, Mesdames et Messieurs, Bon soir,
It is a genuine honour and pleasure for me and my wife Emine to host you at our residence on the proud occasion of the 90th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey.
I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to you all for taking time and sharing our joy here with us today.
Proclamation of the Republic marks a very special historic occasion in the modern journey of the Turkish nation, from a crumbling empire once called one of the mightiest for many centuries but dubbed as the “Sick Man of Europe” in late 19th and early 20th centuries to a republic with a strong and clear vision that Turkey would become a modern and secular country where rule of law, gender equality, market economy and justice prevail as set out by our founding father Great Atatürk.
Nous nous souvenons aussi le fondateur de la République turque, Atatürk, ses compagnons d'armes, les martyrs et les anciens combattants à rendre hommage et de reconnaissance.
Thanks to this vision that we were able to build and prosper a country with a strong tradition of statehood coalescing predominantly Muslim society with modern universal values such as democracy and human rights that has become a beacon of hope and inspiration for our region and beyond. The social, economic and political problems facing the overwhelming majority of the regions surrounding us and especially in the Middle East make this experience all the more meaningful and relevant today.
This successful model is a natural consequence of our nation’s character, history, culture and self-confidence, passion for creating an independent, secure, freer, more democratic, stronger and brighter future together notwithstanding tumultuous periods during its journey and a very turbulent geopolitical location with grave risks.
Turkey today is a fully functioning democracy with a vibrant political culture, the fastest growing economy in OECD, the 17th largest economy in the world and a member of NATO, G-20, WTO, Council of Europe, OSCE and pursuing full membership in the European Union. It has a young, educated and energetic population with impressive entrepreneurial skills. With its unique natural beauties, history and culture of hospitality Turkey is the 8th most wanted tourism destinations across the globe.
The Turkish Government has set ambitious goals to be achieved by the centennial of the Republic in 2023 such as becoming among the top ten economies of the world, completing major infrastructure projects – such as the world’s largest airport in Istanbul and like the one just opened today by the Turkish and Somali Presidents, Turkish, Japanese and Romanian PMs called “Marmaray” under Bosphorus railroad tunnel which for the first time in human history will allow a train to reach from Beijing to London uninterruptedly.
I must humbly say that with a continued political and economic stability and growth, despite the economic meltdown, we were able to triple our GDP and per capita income in the last decade or so. We, as nation and state, are convinced that those goals will be achieved.
Following a foreign policy guided by the principle of “Peace at Home, Peace in the World” Turkey is an important partner and mediator in the peaceful resolutions of conflicts from the Balkans to the Middle East and to Asia.
Turkey stresses on the importance of upholding the universal principles and effectiveness of the international organizations for universal peace among them first and foremost the UN and uses it as a venue to develop initiatives to bridge the differences and create a synergy such as Alliance of Civilizations between Turkey and Spain and Trilateral Solidarity for Peace among Turkey, Sweden and Brazil or recent initiative called MIKTA with Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea and Australia.
Turkey according to the UN Global Humanitarian Assistance Report is the fourth largest humanitarian assistance provider in 2012 following the US, EU and UK. It is going to host the first ever UN Humanitarian Assistance Summit in 2016 in Istanbul. Turkey is among the biggest donor countries at global scale with Turkish NGO’s and government institutions operating from Europe to Asia, from Africa to Caribbean. Turkey’s humanitarian and development aids exceeded 2 billion Dollars last year alone.
Our principled and multifaceted foreign policy sometimes requires us to carry a heavy burden. For example, the number of Syrians in Turkey fleeing violence in their country has reached six hundred thousand. The cost for the shelter, food, care and education of them has exceeded 2 billion Dollars. Having covered most of the costs from our national budget, we are determined not to shy away from doing what we are doing.
Maintenant, je voudrais parler des récents développements concernant les relations turco - canadiens.
Let me also say few words on how we are doing on our bilateral relations with Canada:
We have witnessed a breakthrough in the completion of the necessary legal framework in recent years to boost our cooperation to live up to its great potential, for example:
- The Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation has fully entered into force in the financial year of 2012.
- Senate Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee conducted a ten months study and made very pertinent suggestions to the Government of Canada as a road map in our relations. I commend the esteemed members of the Committee for their wonderful study and strategic vision.
- Final rounds (three) of exploratory talks for the Free Trade Agreement between Turkey and Canada were completed and official negotiations are planned to commence in 2014. We hope that the successful conclusion of CETA with EU will facilitate this process.
- As many of you know, Turkish Airlines and Air Canada has been operating in the Istanbul-Toronto route (8 flights in total per week as of now).
Upon the recent talks between two countries’ relevant authorities and Air Carriers, it has been concluded that Turkish Airlines will start to operate between Istanbul and Montreal as of March 2014. This new development will have a positive impact in our economic, trade, tourism, education and business relations with Canada.
- In addition to the Turkish Consulate General in Toronto, the work to open a new consulate in Montreal in 2014 and in Vancouver soon is underway. This will help us bring Turkey and Canada even closer.
Since I was designated as Turkish Ambassador to Canada 11 months ago, five high level visits were conducted on both ways.
- In September 2012, after fourteen years of break, H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkish Foreign Minister visited Canada and inaugurated “Fallen Diplomats Memorial” with his colleague Honorable John Baird, Canadian Foreign Minister and discussed issues of common concern.
-In January 2013, the then Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney travelled to Turkey to visit the camps built for Syrians who fled from the violence.
- In May, Honourable Ted Menzies, Temporary Alternate Governor for Canada visited Istanbul on the occasion of the 22nd EBRD Annual Meeting and met with Turkish officials.
- In August, Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade visited Turkey. During his visit, he and his counterpart, H.E. Zafer Çağlayan announced the establishment of a “Joint Economic and Trade Commission” to be co-chaired at the ministerial level.
Our Trade Minister H.E. Çağlayan responding to invitation from Min. Fast will visit Canada with large delegation in the spring next year to further boost our bilateral trade which has been tripled in the last three years to $3 billion. Deputy PM H.E. Babacan responsible for economy is also expected to visit next year.
- In September, Honourable John Baird conducted a very successful visit to Turkey. Having been received by our President during the visit, Minister Baird also discussed with his Turkish counterpart regional and global issues. The Ministers also agreed to sign a Strategic Action Plan to define certain objectives in our relations.
-We are working on Right Honorable Governor General’s first ever visit to my country hopefully for the next year.
This new level of engagement and understanding in Turkish-Canadian relations shows the great potential in bilateral relations and underlines the strong political will on both sides. I have no doubt that in strong collaboration with our Canadian colleagues, these targets will materialize.
I would like to finish my speech by thanking each and every one of you for joining us today on this very special day.
Thank you. Merci.
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