The Turkish people celebrated the 97th Anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of Turkey. This was the day when the New Turkish State took its rightful place among the international community of equal and sovereign nations.

Since its foundation, Turkey has remained an inspiration and island of stability in the wider region. The republic’s role as a responsible and active member of the UN and other international organizations significantly contributes to the regional and international peace and security. Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has witnessed remarkable achievements in domestic growth and investments in the past two decades.

Consequently, Turkey, a G20 Member, is the 13th largest economy in the world and the fifth largest European economy in terms of PPP and recorded more than $2 trillion cumulative FDI inflows since 2002.

With the launch of new infrastructure megaprojects, the government is committed to transform Turkey into a $1 trillion economy by the centennial anniversary of the republic in 2023.

On the 97th National Day, let me briefly share my views with the readers the untapped potential offered by a stronger Turkish-Chinese partnership.

Although many aspects of our bilateral cooperation have unfortunately stalled due to the global COVID-19 crisis, Turkey and China have once again displayed their true friendship at a time of great distress by sending much-needed medical supplies to each other.

Turkey was among the first countries to send medical aid to Wuhan at the onset of the outbreak. When the disease began to spread in Turkey, China, too, provided valuable access to important products in accordance with our needs.

This cooperation had solid background. While our historical relations go back to few millenia, the year 2021 will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries.

We are willing to use this important milestone to further improve our bonds. As our countries effectively implement epidemic control and prevention measures, we are determined to move forward on all fronts of our cooperation agenda.

The high-level consensus between President Erdogan and President Xi to strengthen ties has significant repercussions in various fields. First, we are working hard with our Chinese partners to achieve a more balanced, win-win economic relationship that will lead to a lower trade deficit for Turkey vis-a-vis China and encourage more Chinese investment in Turkey.

Moreover, our countries share similar views on the need of maintaining a rules-based global trade system that will ensure fairer terms for developing economies.

Second, we are deepening our cultural and tourism cooperation, as demonstrated by the final preparations for the opening of the Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Center in Beijing and the increasing number of Chinese tourists visiting Turkey. With the resumption of more direct flights and new destinations, our mid-term target is to host 1 million Chinese tourists.

It is also worth mentioning that, despite the pandemic, Turkey is doing its utmost to revive international travel by implementing safe travel practices. Moreover, Istanbul Airport, one of the world’s biggest, has recently received the “Chinese Friendly Airport” certificate, a first worldwide, to accommodate the needs of our Chinese guests.

Third, we are aiming to reap the benefits of the natural harmony between Turkey’s Middle Corridor and Chinese Belt & Road Initiative. As the Western and Eastern gateways of the ancient Silk Road, Turkey and China share the aspiration to reunite the Eurasian landmass with ambitious connectivity projects. We will keep contributing to international stability and prosperity through this important aspect of our multilateral cooperation.

Last, Turkey is well aware of the rapid global transformation marked by the rise of the Asian continent. That is one of the reasons why last year we launched the multidimensional “Asia Anew” initiative, recognizing the opportunities offered by this phenomenon. We therefore consider China a close, reliable friend and a vital partner in furthering economic integration across Asia.

Throughout its 97-year journey, the Republic of Turkey has pursued amicable relations with the wider world based on our founding leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s dictum “Peace at Home, Peace in the World”. This principle continues to guide our humanitarian, enterprising foreign policy, which is strengthened by our growing means and capabilities.

It also forms the basis of our commitment to working closely with China in order to provide valuable contributions on the most pressing issues of our world. We look forward to the semi-centennial anniversary of our diplomatic ties in 2021 with the aim of widening and deepening our strategic cooperation in every respect.

Author: H.E. Mr. Abdulkadir Emin Onen, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the People’s Republic of China. 
Editor’s Note: The article reflects the author’s opinion only, and not necessarily the views of the editorial opinion of Belt & Road News.