Turkish Canadian Relations, 20.3.2019

Turkish Canadian Relations

The establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Canada goes back to 1943. In June 1943, Turkey conveyed to Canada its desire to open an Embassy in Ottawa, Canada responded favorably, and the first Turkish Ambassador to Canada, Mr. Mehmet Ali Şevki Ilhan presented his credentials on March 6, 1944. His counterpart, Major General Victor W. Odlum, presented his credentials to the President of the Republic of Turkey on November 26, 1947, becoming the first Canadian Ambassador to Turkey. Following the opening of the Embassies, diplomatic relations between Turkey and Canada developed harmoniously.

Turkey has an Embassy in Ottawa. The Consulate General in Toronto, the province Ontario’s capital was opened on December 29, 2010, and The Consulate General in Vancouver was opened in September 15, 2015 and the Consulate General in Montreal was opened on August 23, 2017. There are also Honorary Consulate Generals in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Edmonton and Alberta. Canada has an Embassy in Ankara and a Consulate General in Istanbul.

During the Cold War years, political relations between Turkey and Canada evolved mainly around military and security cooperation within NATO. The two allies have also been working side by side in pursuit of a more peaceful and stable world, cooperating within the UN and the OSCE frameworks. In this vein, they have taken part in various international peacekeeping operations. Canada has also participated in the UNFICYP (UN Force in Cyprus) with sizeable troops until 1993.

Since the establishment of the G-20 on September 25, 1999, the two countries found a common forum where they could discuss issues of global economy and finance.

There are Turkish-Canadian Inter-parliamentary Friendship Groups in both countries. The Canadian side of the Friendship Group was formed in June 1996. The Turkish side to the Turkish-Canadian Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group was established on January 5, 2012.

Air Transport Agreement between Canada and Turkey was initialed on March 13, 2009 and Turkish Airlines started its direct flights between Toronto and Istanbul on July 11, 2009. As of 2015, Turkish Airlines has 6 direct flights between Toronto and Istanbul, 3 direct flights between Montreal and Istanbul in a week.

Canada remains the only country that recognizes the events of 1915 as “genocide’’ at the governmental level. This creates difficulties in Turkish-Canadian relations and hinders the process of normalization between Turkey and Armenia as well. Therefore, a neutral approach to be adopted by the Canadian government towards the events of 1915 would be crucial for the development of bilateral relations.

On the other hand, Canada is one of the countries where the terrorist attacks of the Armenian terrorist groups had heavy casualties. Colonel Atilla Altıkat, Turkish Military Attaché to Ottawa, was assassinated at an armed attack on August 27, 1982 in his car, when he stopped at a red-light while going to work from home. The Armenian terrorist group, Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) claimed responsibility for the attack. The perpetrators of the attack are still at large.

On April 8, 1982, Mr. Kani Güngör, Trade Attaché of the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa, was seriously injured as a result of an armed attack at the parking lot of his house. He was permanently paralyzed for the rest of his life.

Furthermore, the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa has been stormed by heavy-armed Armenian terrorists from the Armenian Revolutionary Army on March 12, 1985. Mr. Claude Brunelle, a 31-year-old student from the University of Ottawa, who worked for a private security firm hired to protect the Embassy, was assassinated by the terrorists during the attack. He called in the emergency code to his supervisor and left the bullet-proof enclosure to confront the terrorists. He fired four shots at the terrorists and took two shots in the chest, which killed him instantly.

Terrorists first blew up the Embassy gate, and then took 13 people including Ambassador Coşkun Kırca, his wife Bilge Kırca, their daughter Gülcan Kırca, the people working at the Embassy and their children, in total 13 people, for hostage for 4 hours. The Ambassador Coşkun Kırca was able to escape by jumping out of the second floor window of the building. However, his right arm, right leg and hip bone were fractured and he had to stay injured where he fell for 4 hours, without medical care.

The Turkish Community in Canada

It is estimated that the number of Turkish origin people in Canada has reached 60,000. A large number of these Turkish citizens are university graduates and have been integrated in the Canadian community. The first wave of migration to Canada from Turkey occurred between 1956-1975. Majority of the members of the Turkish Community in Canada are concentrated in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Edmonton. There are several associations and federations established by the Turkish Community in Canada.

Recent High Level Visits

- Canada-Turkey Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group’s visit to Turkey, 12-18 February 2010.

- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Minister of Finance Mehmet Şimşek’s visit to Canada to participate in the G20 Summit in Toronto, 26-27 June 2010.

- Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Mehmet Ali Şahin’s visit to Ottawa to attend G20 Speakers of Parliament Meeting, 2-5 September 2010.

- Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz’s visit to Turkey, 12-14 September 2010.

- Minister of Economy Zafer Çağlayan’s visit to Toronto to attend Canada-Turkey Business Council Meeting, 22 October 2010.

- International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan’s visit to Turkey, 6-8 December 2010.

- Speaker of the Senate Noel Kinsella’s visit to Turkey 19-25 January 2011.

- Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird’s visit to Turkey to attend Libya Contact Group Meeting, 15 July 2011.

- Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs Deepak Obhrai’s visit to Turkey to attend the Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan, 2 November 2011.

- Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs Deepak Obhrai’s visit to Turkey, 22-23 Mart 2012

- Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird’s visit to Turkey to attend the Friends of the Syrian People Meeting in Istanbul, 1 April 2012.

- Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu’s visit to Canada, September 2012.

- Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney’s visit to Turkey, January 2013.

- Members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Senate of Canada visit Turkey - March 2013.

- Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies’s visit to Turkey, May 2013.

- International Trade Minister Ed Fast’s visit to Turkey, August 2013.

- Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird’s visit to Turkey, September 2013.

- Turkish Parliamentary Delegation’s visit to Canada, December 2013.

- Speaker of the House of Commons Andrew Scheer’s visit to Turkey, March 2014.

- 11th President of the Republic of Turkey Abdullah Gül’s visit to Canada to attend Halifax Security Forum, November 2014.

- Speaker of Turkish Grand National Assembly Cemil Çiçek’s visit to Canada, February 2015.

- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Turkey to attend G20 Summit in Antalya, November 2015.

- Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion’s visit to Turkey to attend the 6th High Level Partnership Forum on Somalia held in Istanbul, 22-24 February 2016.

- Deputy Minister of Economy Fatih Metin’s visit to Canada to attend the 13th Turkey-Canada Annual Joint Business Conference in Ottawa, 23- 24 May 2016.

- Minister of International Development and Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau’s visit to Turkey to attend World Humanity Summit in Antalya, 23-24 May 2016.

- Chair of Turkey-Canada Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group Yusuf Başer’s visit to Canada (Toronto), 7-10 July 2016.

- Vice-Chair of Foreign Relations Committee Kani Torun and Turkish Parliamentarians visit to Canada (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto), 7-11 August 2016.

- NATO-PA Committee members Şirin Ünal, Faik Öztrak and Şafak Pavey’s visit to Canada to attend NATO-PA Technic Committee Meeting (Ottawa), 25-26 September 2016.

- Customs and Trade Minister Bülent Tüfenkçi’s visit to Canada to attend a meeting with Turkish-Canadian investors and business owners in Toronto, 18 October 2016.

- Chair of NATO-PA Committee Jean Rioux and Canadian Parliamentarians visit to Turkey to attend NATO-PA General Assembly Meeting in Istanbul, 14-16 November 2016.

- Minister of EU Affairs Ömer Çelik’s visit to Canada to attend Halifax Security Forum, 18-20 November 2016.

- NATO-PA Committee members Metin Bulut, Faik Öztrak, Oktay Vural and Ziya Pir’s visit to Canada to attend Science and Technology Committee and Transatlantic Economic Relations Subcommittee Meetings (Ottava, Yellowknife, Resolute), 10-16 September 2017.

- Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces Hulusi Akar and Minister of EU Affairs Ömer Çelik’s visit to Canada to attend Halifax Security Forum, 16-19 November 2017.

- Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s visit to Canada to attend the Security and Stability in the Korean Peninsula Meeting in Vancouver, 14-16 January 2018.

- Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism Ahmet Haluk Dursun’s visit to Newfoundland and Labrador, 17-21 October 2018.

- MPs Öznur Çalık, İlknur İnceöz and Ceyda Bölünmez Çankırı’s visit to attend IPCI/ICDP meeting, Ottawa, 21-23 October 2018.

- Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar’s visit to Canada attend Halifax Security Forum, November 2018.

- Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Mithat Cansız’s visit to attend PDAC, Toronto , 3-6 March 2019.

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