Revival of friendship with Turkey

Structural reforms in Turkey have paved the way for comprehensive changes in a number of areas

By Suchitra Steven Samuel

Published: Tue 31 Dec 2013, 3:42 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:26 PM

General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the

General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, with Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul (left) and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara

Turkey is the 16th biggest economy in the world and the sixth biggest in Europe. With its progressive economic climate, Turkey is one of the stars amongst the global economies. S Vural Altay, Turkish Ambassador to the UAE, shares his thoughts with Khaleej Times. Excerpts:

S Vural Altay, Turkish Ambassador to the UAE. — KT photo by Shoaib Anwer

S Vural Altay, Turkish Ambassador to the UAE. — KT photo by Shoaib Anwer

Message to the Turkish community...

We have a 10,000-strong highly qualified Turkish community in the UAE. We are proud of their achievements and contributions to the local economy. I would like to thank each one of them for this. This year is extra special as it is the 90th anniversary of Turkey being declared a Republic. My best wishes goes to all of our citizens living and working in the UAE.

Targets for the next 10 years…

We have different targets for different sectors. The main one is to become one of the 10 biggest economies in the world. Now we are the 16th biggest in the world and sixth biggest in Europe. By 2023, trade exports are expected to reach $500 billion. Total trade is expected to touch a total of more than one trillion dollars. Also, we are targeting 50 million tourists to Turkey.

On bilateral relations...

Bilateral ties can be described as perfect. Turkey and the UAE are strategic partners with a long-term perspective. We are working on different projects to strengthen ties between the two countries as well as between the nationalities where both sides benefit.

In 2012, the President of the Republic of Turkey Abdullah Gul visited the UAE, a high-level visit after nearly 18 years. In the same year General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces made his first official visit to Turkey. This year the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Sharjah. Now we have many high-level visitors visiting both countries and we hope that this trend will continue in the days, months and years to come.

In fact, the UAE and Turkey are like two brothers bound together by close cultural, social, religious and historical ties. For centuries we have lived side by side, shared a common destiny and made extensive contribution to world civilisation. There has been a big leap in bilateral relations in the last decade. This in a way should be seen as a revival of Turkish friendship. We have lifted so many barriers that have separated us. We would like this relationship to continue in the years or decades to come.

Milestones achieved in the recent past…

Turkey has become a regional power and an important global player. The country is considered as one of the few emerging markets in the world. When we look back, we see the Turkish economy has been growing steadily during the last decade. Our average growth is more than 5 per cent in the last 10 years.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the average growth rate Turkey will achieve in the next five years will be around 5.2 per cent.

Major challenges ahead…

Some of the challenges are political instability, conflicts and wars that we unfortunately have in the region and security is one of the big hurdles in front of us. The global economy has not been performing quite well in the last few years. The crisis in Europe is also a challenge because Turkey does 50 per cent of trade with Europe. This has negatively affected us. Hope that it will be over soon and we will have a favourable environment to do more business.

Areas of contribution by Turkish citizens…

We are very strong in different areas, especially in the construction sector. In the hospitality sector, we have high-level managers in leading hotels and a qualified workforce namely white collared people and we hope that this number will grow.

Global currency fluctuations on trade…

Each and every emerging market has been negatively affected by currency fluctuations. Turkey is no exception. We have been able to manage this negative trend. Our national currency, the Turkish Lira, lost some value due to these developments at the global level though it recovered at a later stage. Despite the difficulties, the Turkish economy is performing very well in the last year. Trade is increasing. For the first eight months of this year, there is an increase in trade with the UAE compared to last year despite the market conditions.

Important goals as ambassador...

We value the UAE as a strategic partner. We set up a joint committee and hope to have a first meeting at the level of prime ministers as soon as possible. We are working so that Turkish citizens are able to enter the UAE without any visa requirements. Turkey has a very open-minded attitude in this context. Last year, we received more than 34 million tourists. Quite recently, we have liberalised our visa regime, for example, citizens of several countries can get their electronic visas through the Internet. Additionally, I would like to see more Turkish tourists visit the UAE in the years to come.

Turkey’s position in Europe

  • Biggest light commercial vehicle manufacturer and the second biggest bus manufacturer
  • First clothing manufacturer
  • First fertiliser manufacturer
  • Third biggest iron and steel manufacturer
  • Fourth biggest automotive and automotive parts manufacturer
  • Fourth largest telecom market
  • Sixth biggest refrigerator manufacturer

Turkey’s position in the world

  • Second biggest flat glass producer
  • Second biggest jewellery exporter
  • Third biggest manufacturer of gold and jewellery
  • Third biggest TV exporter
  • Fourth biggest ceramic tile and natural stone manufacturer
  • Fifth biggest shipbuilder (in terms of number) and third biggest mega yacht producer
  • Fifth biggest fresh fruit producer
  • Sixth biggest cement producer
  • Sixth biggest clothing exporter
  • Eight biggest iron and steel producer
  • Fifteenth biggest automobile manufacturer
  • First boron mineral producer

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