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Peace at home, peace in the world

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Article by H.E. Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu Published in El Mercurio (Chile), 30 October 2017

[This is an English translation of the original Spanish text]

As we celebrate the 94th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, we gratefully remember that Chile became the first country in Latin America to recognize the nascent Turkish Republic. Chile and Turkey then signed the Treaty of Friendship in 1926 and we have been able to carry this long lasting friendship to a solid partnership throughout the years. Turkey and Chile may be located at two distant corners of the world but they are united by shared values. Multilateralism in foreign policy, liberal economy and attention to improving global governance are among some of the main principles to which both countries adhere. As happy as we are about the state of our bilateral relations, we are convinced that now is the time to build on these unique foundations and take our partnership to new heights. I am fully convinced that this promising partnership will open up new horizons to the extent that we tap the full potential of our political as well as economic and commercial ties.

The atmosphere of Turkey’s bilateral relations with Chile is excellent and the level of cooperation between the two countries is advancing steadily. We have had the honour to receive in Turkey two former Presidents of Chile, H.E. Ricardo Lagos in 2004 and H.E. Sebastian Pinera in 2012. The President of the Republic of Turkey H.E Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Chile at the beginning of 2016.

Last year, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of Turkish-Chilean relations. On this occasion, my counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Heraldo Muñoz visited Turkey in January 2016 and delivered a speech at the Eighth Ambassadors’ Conference, which was entitled “Crisis Management: Humanitarian Solutions”. Humanitarian diplomacy is an indispensable aspect of Turkish foreign policy, duly reflected by that Conference theme as well.

Turkey has been a leading actor in humanitarian diplomacy. Turkey hosted the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in May 2016, which helped better address today's complex humanitarian challenges. It was also another indication of Turkey’s determination to pursue a leading role in the humanitarian field. One of the key achievements of the WHS was the recognition that the old debates on humanitarian and development divide should be transcended through a New Way of Working. In this context, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the WHS, Turkey hosted a high level event and a New Way of Working Workshop in İstanbul on 18-19 May 2017, which aimed at further unifying and strengthening collective efforts to assist the people in need.

Deeply motivated to play an active role in shaping the regional and global political environment, Turkey strives to strengthen its partnership with the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. Our partnership will be conducive to multi-dimensional cooperation as well as our global efforts for a fairer world and inclusive and sustainable development.

As Minister Muñoz said at the Conference in Ankara in 2016, “Our world is increasingly complex”. Terrorism, hybrid threats, cyberattacks, pandemics, humanitarian crises, discrimination, hate crimes, radicalism, animosities against people from different faith and cultures, climate change, poverty and famine… All those risks and vulnerabilities pose serious threats to global peace, harmony and prosperity. More important than everything, they threaten our human wellbeing. How we will address these global challenges? I see no other way than better cooperation for the wellbeing of our “global family”.

In this regard, the question of Syrian refugees is demanding greater attention. Turkey has been pursuing an open door policy for Syrians who had to flee their country in the past seven years due to the ongoing violence. More than 3.2 million Syrians are now in Turkey. We have spent almost 30 billion US Dollars, whereas the total contribution we received from the international community is far from meeting expectations. Simultaneously, Turkey continues to be the biggest refugee hosting country according to the UN Refugee Agency figures.

In this regard, I would like to underline my appreciation that Chile extended her helping hand to the Syrians in need. Very recently, President H.E. Michelle Bachelet met with Syrian refugees arriving in Chile. The humanitarian support and determined stance by Chile is valuable, bearing in mind the lack of help from regions much closer.

Despite being in distant geographies, Latin America and the Caribbean region plays an important role in Turkey’s multifaceted and multidimensional foreign policy. Actually, the real distance between people occur in minds, not between people who are far from each other. Yet, we want to build closer relations with our friends in the Latin America and the Caribbean. After 2009, we strengthened our presence in Latin America and today we have 13 embassies and 1 consulate general in the region, while the Latin American and Caribbean countries have 12 Embassies in Ankara. Our enterprising foreign policy encourages us to further enlarge our diplomatic presence in the Latin American and Caribbean region with a view to deepen our ties. Thus, we aim to increase the number of diplomatic representations in the years ahead.

Today, Chile is one of the key partners in our outreach policy to Latin America and the Caribbean. Chile is one of the nations in this region with which we enjoy the strongest relations. Chile is Turkey’s 4th largest trading partner in the Latin America region and currently is the only Latin American country with which we have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in force. Moreover, I am pleased that we have made significant headway in the field of defence industry cooperation.

Turkey’s trade with the Latin America and Caribbean region exceeded 8 billion dollars in 2016, which stood at only 1 billion Dollars in 2000’s. Turkish Airlines now flies directly to 6 destinations in the Latin America and the Caribbean. Our ‘sociocultural bridge’ between the two continents is our young people. We granted hundreds of scholarships to undergraduate and postgraduate students from the continent, and we continue to provide scholarships to the young Chilean students. The new generations are very lucky, they travel a lot while they study and learn other cultures. These scholarships and exchange programmes are very important tools for cultural communication and I certainly believe that we should invest more in educating our youth for a prosperous and peaceful future.

Turkey strongly believes in multilateralism. This is why we do our best to develop our institutional ties with the Latin America and the Caribbean region. Turkey established institutional ties with almost all of the regional organizations, including Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Organization of American States (OAS), Association of Caribbean States (ACS), Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Pacific Alliance, Central American Integration System (SICA), Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and most recently became a member of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

South-south cooperation and development cooperation is among the key pillars of our approach towards the region. We attach utmost importance to build sustainable relations and cooperation with our development partners. Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) has opened two regional program coordination offices, in Mexico City and Bogota. Turkey has purveyed 8.4 million Dollars of development assistance projects in the region.

All in all, Chile plays a pivotal role in our approach to Latin America. We see Chile as an important and reliable partner in the region, in all walks of life, in politics, economy and culture. The common values of the two countries are not only limited to the political sphere. The worldviews of the Turkish and Chilean people, our philosophy, our simple but comprehensive way of embracing different cultures seem to be common in many ways. As Pablo Neruda, who was a friend of the legendary Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet, once said: “Love is not about property, diamonds and gifts. It is about sharing your very self with the world around you.” The vast geographical distance between our two countries should not be an impediment to further enhance our strong relations and diversify our cooperation. Turkey’s sincere wish is to develop and push forward the already excellent level of relations between the two countries for the benefit of the peoples of both countries, in particular in the benefit of our young generations who are our hope for the future.

On the occasion of the 94th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, I would like to reiterate my wishes to the friendly people of Chile and underline our commitment to friendship and cooperation.