It is a true privilege to serve in Bucharest and represent the Republic of Turkey and Turkish nation. Turkey and Romania enjoy a multi-dimensional and multifaceted relationship. There is intense activity in almost all fields, including economy, military, culture, security, tourism, and people to people contacts.
Turks and Romanians had a long shared history, which serves as an asset for today’s bilateral relations and strong factor that makes the friendship between our nations stronger.
We are not only old friends and neighbors but also allies within NATO. We are also strategic partners sharing the same ideals and values. We work very closely on a broad geography spanning the Balkans, Black Sea, Caucasus, and the Middle East as well as on critical issues, including energy security, joint defense initiatives, regional security, and fight against terrorism and organized crime. We have shared visions and objectives on various events, including the recent developments in both Black Sea region and the Middle East. Our soldiers are working hand in hand in Afghanistan. Our close cooperation is a force for good in our region and beyond.
Thanks to the excellent level of bilateral relations, Turkey and Romania have upgraded their relations to the level of Strategic Partnership with a document signed in 2011. Two years later, we have finalized an Action Plan, which serves as a road map for this strategic partnership.
My colleagues and I visit Henri Coanda Airport a couple of times a week to meet and greet Turkish officials of various ranks and expertise. There is not a week that I do not host a couple of Turkish and Romanian delegations at the Residence. Not only the quantity but also the quality and content of the meetings are satisfactory.
Economic and commercial aspects of our relations are also satisfactory. Over 10,000 Turkish companies operate here with an overall investment of about 6 billion Dollars in a wide range of sectors, including finance, banking, white good manufacturing, industry, glass production, wood production, construction, estate, food processing, health, and media. Our active business community is a strong force in bolstering our relations. Our trade volume surpassed 6 billion Dollars last year, making Turkey the largest trading partner of Romania after the EU. In the overall ranking, Turkey is Romania’s fifth largest trading partner and fourth largest export market. We have set the target to increase the bilateral trade volume to 10 billion dollars. We work hard to further increase bilateral economic ties to the mutual benefit of our nations.
Cultural links and people-to-people contacts make this relationship even more special. There is a centuries-old shared history between our nations. Every year hundreds of thousands of Romanians visit Turkey to enjoy the Turkish hospitality, making Turkey one of the top tourist destinations for Romanians. Turkish and Tatar minority in Romania serves as a robust cultural and social bridge between our nations. We proudly follow their achievements and contribution to this beautiful country. We deeply appreciate the exemplary policies of Romanian state towards these minorities. We are also proud to witness that the Turkish business community, after more than a decade, is also well integrated in the Romanian society.
Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centers in Bucharest and Constanta as well as Romanian Cultural Institute Dimitrie Cantemir in Istanbul also do a great job in promoting Turkish and Romanian cultures and languages in both countries. Taking this opportunity, I invite everyone to visit and enjoy one of Yunus Emre Center’s various events in Romania. Finally the recently opened branch of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) will help further increase our bilateral relations with concrete development and cooperation projects.
We have everything to further develop our relations to the benefit of our nations and the region. We have the political will, private sector involvement, human dimension, and a strong cultural element. And we are ready to make utmost use of all of these to bolster our partnership. It is an honor for me to serve for this cause and the historical friendship between our nations as the Ambassador of Turkey.