Büyükelçi Reha Keskintepe'nin Brisbane ziyareti vesilesiyle yaptığı konuşma

Reha Keskintepe 25.02.2013
The Honourable Dean of the Consular Corps,
The Honourable Members of the Consular Corps,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed a distinct pleasure for me to address you tonight, during my first visit to Queensland and its capital Brisbane.

At the outset I would like to congratulate Mr. Allahmanlı for assuming the Deanship of the Honourary Consular Corps in Brisbane.

In my speech this evening I will touch upon the principles of Turkish policy, and our vision for 2023, the centenary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey, both in the context of foreign policy objectives and economic goals. I will be also happy to answer any questions you may pose.

The world is undergoing tumultuous changes, presenting challenges to countries such as Turkey that are affected by this tectonic transformation. While there is a serious economic crisis currently affecting large parts of the international community, the regions surrounding Turkey are undergoing the equally significant process of political transition. Though challenging, we believe that these transformations are natural and inevitable processes.

I have in mind the Arab Spring, which started in Tunisia and rapidly spread to other countries in the Middle East, and with Syria reached Turkey’s southern borders. Before the Arab Spring, Turkey had to tackle the many challenges posed by the War and transformation in Iraq, which is yet to run its full course. On top of all this, the Middle East is not short of other long term conflicts, like the Arab-Israeli conflict. Those who fail to understand the flow of history and do not position themselves in the world accordingly will be overtaken by the rapid pace of events and will end up paying a heavy price. This is especially valid in our region.

I will mention 4 principles; First, while paying utmost attention to defend our national interests, Turkey will also pursue a values based foreign policy. We have already expressed our readiness to assume the responsibilities of a global actor. In pursuit of our global objectives, Turkey will endeavor to listen to the consciousness and common sense of humanity, and become a firm defender of universal values. While embracing these universal principles, we will enmesh them with local values, and advocate, in particular, human rights and such norms as democracy, good governance, transparency and the rule of law.

Second, as Turkey positions itself in this great historic transformation process, we will depend on our ability to meet the many challenges. In order to augment our diplomatic capabilities to reach out to all parts of the world, in the last 2 years, we opened more than 30 new Embassies in Africa, Latin America and East Asia. By the end of this year we will have 230 Embassies and Consulates, making Turkey the 6th in the world in terms of representation.

We also have become actively involved in areas such as international development assistance, peacemaking and mediation. In this context, we have assumed responsibilities in several regional and international organisations and hosted events such as an international conference on Africa, UN Summit on Least Developed Countries and a UN conference on mediation, besides others.

Third, we determine our vision, set our objectives, and execute our foreign policy in line with our national interests. In particular, our policies toward neighbours are devised with careful consideration of our own evaluation of the situation. As has been the case so far, we will continue to coordinate our policies with those of our Western partners, but will not let such partnership negatively affect our relations with neighbours.

Fourth, we will pursue a vision-oriented foreign policy. Today, the world is going through a major global economic crisis while our region is experiencing a troublesome political transformation. Therefore, we have stepped in to play an active role in these transformation processes, putting at work our crisis management services and our multi-dimensional diplomacy. At the regional level, our vision is a regional order that is built on a representative political system reflecting the legitimate demands of the people where regional states are fully integrated with each other around the core values of democracy and economic interdependence. At the global level, we will aspire to build in a participatory manner a new international order that is inclusive of the international community at large. This global order will have 3 dimensions; a political order based on dialogue and multilateralism, an economic order based on justice and equality and a cultural order based on tolerance, inclusiveness and multiculturalism.

So, based on these principles what is our vision for 2023? As one would expect, the main vision is to achieve the goals which are set in conformity with these principles.

The first one is that, Turkey wants to integrate with our neighbours. Turkey declared a policy of ‘zero problems’ with our neighbours in 2003, and has consistently taken advantage of every opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations, removed any historical or current disputes leading to an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding, and increased cooperation at every level. As a result, Turkey deployed every effort to persuade the Syrian regime to listen to the will of its people and make the necessary transformation peacefully. When this proved to be futile, Turkey has sided with the people of Syria, opened its doors to the refugees whose numbers have reached more than 180.000 at border camps and another 70 thousand inland, and has already spent more than half a billion US Dollars to sustain this effort.

When it comes to Greece, many people thought and perhaps still think that Greece and Turkey are historic enemies. On the contrary, today Turkey and Greece are best friends. The two countries have regular high-level strategic Council meetings co-chaired by the two Prime Ministers with the participation of many cabinet ministers.

With our neighbours to the East, Russia has turned out to be our main trading partner and with Georgia we not only implement visa exemption, but we even do not use passports when travelling.

So, we want to enjoy the same best relations and full integration with all our neighbours, come 2023.

The second goal in line with our vision for 2023 is of course parallel to the first goal, which is to have a belt of stability, security and prosperity in the surrounding regions, including the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Let me return to the Arab Spring. We see an Arab world which will be alltogether transformed. The region has mobilized. Turkey will be on the side of change, and not on the side of status quo. Turkey wants a Middle East without tensions, without crisis, we want democracy to prevail, we seek economic integration, freedom of choice in every area of life. We want to have one integrated region based on political dialogue, based on a common understanding of security, multicultural and multi-religious, pluralistic societies. Hence, we hope that these objectives, this strategic belt of stability, prosperity and security will take hold of our region in the next 10 years.

The third strategic vision is integration with the EU. In spite of all the difficulties and roadblocks we face, Turkey wants to become a member of the EU. The EU will have overcome its present economic difficulties and Turkey will be in a unique position to make its contributions to the EU. An EU with Turkey as a member will be geographically and strategically more relevant, economically more competitive, and culturally more inclusive. In a multi-polar world it will become a global power. So, Turkey’s membership to the EU will be a win-win situation.

The fourth goal is in fact what I have mentioned before, i.e. Turkey as a global power, Turkey as a major contributor to the global order in a cultural, economic and political sense. Turkey, as a country enjoying expanded relations all over the world, with all international organisations. Today Turkey is member of NATO, we hope we will be a member of the EU, Turkey is a member of Organisation of Islamic Countries, the OIC, Turkey has established the Turkish-speaking States Council, Turkey is a UN member, a G-20 country, co-founder of the Alliance of Civilisations. We are also observer country of the ASEAN and a dialogue partner of the Shangai Cooperation Organisation. We are a strategic dialogue partner of the African Union.

Our role will be much diversified in the next decade. In short, our goal for 2023 is a democratic country with a strong economic structure. A regional, European and global power. We are confident that our dynamism, our young, hard working and forward looking people will achieve these goals.

How does all this translate into our vision for 2023 in terms of economic development? In the second part of my speech I will address this question briefly.

With a population of approximately 75 million, and the Turkish diaspora of 4 million in Europe is not included in this figure, with its dynamic and open-market economy, competitive industry and the customs Union with the EU for more than 15 years, Turkey is a country with a huge and growing market.

I have referred to our young, dynamic and well-trained population. It is worth mentioning that 61 percent of the population is under the age of 34. This translates to 45 million people. At present more than 26 million people are employed. This is one of the main strengths of the Turkish economy.

Turkey is rightly recognized as an emerging economy with global reach.

Turkey’s Gross Domestic Product is approaching one trillion US dollars. This makes Turkey the world’s 15th and Europe’s 6th largest economy. Thus Turkey is a member of the G-20 and we will chair the G-20 in 2015, right after Australia. Our leaders are looking forward to attending the meetings in Brisbane and I’m sure they will enjoy their stay here with its excellent infrastructure and conference facilities.

In 2023, it is our goal to place Turkey in the top 10 economies in the world.

This is to be achieved by:
- Increasing today’s Gross Domestic Product to 2 trillion dollars.
- Increasing annual exports to 500 billion dollars, within a total trade volume of 1 trillion dollars.
- Raising per capita income of approximately 11.700 dollars to exceed 25.000 dollars.
- Increasing today’s tourism capacity of 30 million visitors to 50 million, making Turkey the 5th largest tourist destination in the world.
- Reducing unemployment rate of 9,8 percent to 5 percent.
- Building a 20.000 Mega Watt installed capacity for wind energy and a 600 Mega Watt installed capacity for geothermal energy.
- To have at least 3 operating nuclear power plants as compared to none today.
- Building 11.000 kilometers of new railways, at the same time expanding high-speed train network.
- Building 15.000 km of divided highways.
- Building one of the world’s largest sea ports and airports.
- Creating at least 10 famous brands recognized worldwide. Turkish Airlines which is ‘globally yours’ is yet to fly to Australia, and I hope they will start flights not in 2023, but early next year.
- Making İstanbul one of the major finance capitals of the world. It is already one of the most historical and touristic destinations in the world.
- Increasing the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment to Turkey. During the last 8 years, the total inflow of FDI has well exceeded 100 billion US dollars. Turkey is listed among the top OECD countries that have gained most out of its privatisation programme.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Turkey has achieved remarkable economic and political development in the new millennium. A sound macroeconomic strategy combined with prudent fiscal policies and major structural reforms have, over a period of 10 years, facilitated Turkey’s successful integration into the global economic system. Give another 10 years and Turkey will take its rightful place among the top 10 economies in the world. Turkey’s past performance is testimony to its future achievements. We believe that in 2023, when we celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey, all Turks will be proud of the Republic’s achievements and they will be looking forward to the next 100 years.

Thank you for your attention.

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