Peace at home, peace in the world

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Statement by H.E. Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu at the Meeting of Turkey-CARICOM Consultation and Cooperation Mechanism, 18 July 2014, İstanbul

Chairman of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations, Her Excellency Carolyn Rodriguez-Birkett,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque,
Esteemed Ministers,
Distinguished Representatives of CARICOM countries to the UN,
Dear guests,

It is a privilege to welcome you in İstanbul on the occasion of the First Meeting of the Turkey-CARICOM Consultation and Cooperation Mechanism. Thank you for coming such a long way for this meeting. As you would recall, in 2008 we hosted the Turkey-CARICOM High Level Officials meeting in İstanbul which yielded tangible results. Now it is time to take stock of our efforts and to draw a strategic action plan for the future. I am convinced that this meeting will not only help cement the fundamentals of our relations but also enrich and diversify them.

The Caribbean occupies an important place in our global outreach strategy. The Caribbean is not only the new frontier of the Turkish Foreign Policy. We consider you as our distant neighbors that represent the voice of the global conscience.

Despite being in different hemispheres, Turkey and the Caribbean share many common and complementary aspects and challenges including economy, natural disasters, climate change. While Turkey is an important center in the Afro-Eurasia region, the Caribbean, which spans around 3.000 kilometers from the north to the south, is the heart of the Western Hemisphere connecting north and south America.

Since the meeting in 2008, Turkey has displayed a clear commitment to engage with CARICOM and the individual member states on a sustainable basis. Our contributions to the Caribbean Development Fund reached 8 million dollars and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has carried out numerous bilateral development projects with member countries. In May, a technical TIKA delegation visited some Caribbean states with a view to establishing a long-term working relationship with their counterparts and identify concrete cooperation projects for the short and medium terms. We are studying the possible venue of the regional TİKA office that we will open in the region, which will overview the projects that we are going to implement in the near future. As I mentioned to most of you at the margins of the CARICOM Summit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and during my trip to New York in March, we have earmarked 2 million dollars that we have donated to the Caribbean Development Fund (CDF) this year, to support development projects listed with the CDF.

We are working on making these voluntary contributions on a regular basis.

As an emerging economy and a global donor country, in 2012 Turkey’s official development aid doubled to amount to 2.5 billion Dollars. The same year, Turkey provided 1 billion Dollars of humanitarian aid and became the fourth largest global contributor in that category (% 0,13 of its GDP).

Humanitarian diplomacy is a key dimension of Turkish foreign policy. Turkey’s humanitarian aid is expanding to respond to various crises throughout the world. Recently, Turkey was admitted as a member of the OCHA Donor Support Group, which includes the largest humanitarian contributors to the UN system. Moreover, Turkey will host the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. We look forward to working with the CARICOM countries in the preparatory process, including during the regional consultations for Latin America in Guatemala in April 2015, and the Summit itself.

Development cooperation represents only one pillar of our relations. Trade and investments should constitute another important aspect. Today Turkey is the world’s 16th and Europe’s 6th largest economy, and according to OECD, is projected to become the second largest economy in Europe after Germany by 2050. Turkey attained an average growth rate of around 6 % in the last decade. As a sign of increasing confidence in the fundamentals of the Turkish economy, the amount of total foreign direct investment has surpassed 120 billion Dollars in the same period and made Turkey the 13th Foreign Direct Investment receiving country in the world.

In line with its increasing economic power, the contributions of Turkey to the UN regular budget has tripled during the 2013-2015 period. Consequently, Turkey’s rank among the top contributors to the UN budget rose from 25th to 16th. Turkey is now a full member of the "Geneva Group", bringing together countries which contribute more than one percent to the regular budget of the United Nations.

Our foreign trade volume also increased considerably to hit a new record high of 400 billion Dollars in 2013. As part of our free market and free trade oriented approach, we are willing to start free trade negotiations with CARICOM in the near future. To this end, we stand ready to work on a calendar with you. In this context, I am pleased to inform you that the private sector driven Foreign Economic Relations Board DEİK has recently established an exclusive Trade Council for the Caribbean.

Turkey is fully aware of the benefits of reaching out to new geographies. Within this understanding we have opened 22 new Embassies in Africa in the last decade. We doubled the number of our Embassies in Latin America since 2009. The number of our Embassies in the region will reach 14 with the opening of our Embassies in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago. Turkey, with 223 missions abroad, ranks 8th in the world in terms of the number of diplomatic and consular missions. We will continue pursuing this policy in the foreseeable future especially in Latin America and the Caribbean.

We have a proven record of increased trade and high level contacts following the opening of Embassies. Therefore, I would like to reiterate my invitation to all of you to open an Embassy in Ankara. As an incentive, we will assume the rent of a joint Chancery and contribute 2.500 Dollars for the rent of each residence for a period of five years. As Latin America and the Caribbean becomes the new frontier of Turkish foreign policy, I believe that the opening of such a joint Chancery would bring us ever closer. Currently 119 countries have Embassies in Ankara. Furthermore, such a joint Chancery will provide you a gateway to the surrounding regions such as Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia, Europe and the Mediterranean basin. Just to remind, there are 54 countries within a three-hour flight range from Istanbul. As you see, Turkish Airlines is now having access to all regions in the world. And Istanbul is at the center of this region to provide all to have access to many adjacent areas.

Distinguished guests,

Combating climate change and natural disasters appear as new areas where Turkey and CARICOM could cooperate. As a country being situated in a region prone to the impact of global warming as well as in a zone vulnerable to seismic activities, Turkey stands ready to provide its assistance to and share its experiences with the small island states with a view to addressing these challenges. In this regard, the HOPEFOR initiative, jointly sponsored by Turkey, the Dominican Republic and Qatar is a case where we can work together in the field of disaster management and response in the Caribbean region.

We are at a critical juncture in the climate change negotiations. We are supposed to agree on a legal document at the end of next year in Paris at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21), which will outline the framework for the new climate change regime to be implemented from 2020 onwards. This legal framework should adequately address the needs and vulnerabilities of the small island developing states. The new regime should be fair, equitable, flexible and applicable to all parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and ensure that developing countries are provided with necessary means of implementation.

Let me also touch upon a few issues of common concern relating to the UN agenda. As the next G20 Presidency, Turkey in 2015 will be closely following the post-Millennium Development Goals agenda and we support G-20’s engagement. We are well aware of the legitimate concerns that some of you shared with us during our recent encounters, regarding the risk of being categorized as middle-income developing states. Rest assured that we will voice your concerns and defend your interests in every international fora that we participate, including during our G-20 Presidency. It is within this understanding that we support Trinidad and Tobago’s candidacy to host the Arms Trade Treaty Secretariat in Port of Spain.

We are also well aware that this year will be important for the small island developing states (SIDS). The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States to be held in September in Samoa will provide us with an excellent opportunity to take stock of the implementation of policies designed for the SIDS. As an expression of our solidarity, we have made financial contributions for the organization of the Interregional Preparatory Meeting in Barbados and the Conference in Samoa, as well as the Trust Fund of the Conference.

Taking all the points I have mentioned briefly above, and many other I omit for the sake of brevity, I believe that Turkey provides significant added value to global peace and security, including the Caribbean region, through the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), in an era of critical and rapid change. This is the main reason that we are running as a candidate for the Security Council for the term 2015-2016. If the members of the UN place their trust in us once again, we will, as we demonstrated during our previous term, follow an active stance in order to bring durable and comprehensive solutions to the issues on the Council’s agenda, in consultation with all parties concerned and especially with Caribbean States.

Distinguished Ministers and Permanent Representatives,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Turkey is and will remain as a reliable partner of CARICOM, amplifying your voice in different regions and countries of the globe, including international organizations. We will continue to work closely in the UN and carry on our cooperation and consultation on issues of mutual interest.

Before concluding my remarks, I would like to express my sincere conviction and resolve that Turkey-CARICOM cooperation will increase considerably in the near future, on the basis of continuity, sustainability, mutual respect, friendship and benefit.

I would like to thank you again for giving me the pleasure to reciprocate the warm hospitality that was extended to me and to my delegation during the CARICOM Summit in March. I hope that you will enjoy the rest of your stay in İstanbul, during which you will have the opportunity to visit this historical city where Asia meets with Europe, and the Mediterranean with the Black Sea. I look forward to meeting you again soon.