Today, the Turkish nation is celebrating its National Day that marks the 85th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey on 29 October 1923, following a war of independence under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who also became its first President.
This day is remembered as the birth of modern Turkey out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire; an empire that had come to be seen as the sick man of Europe at the turn of the century following a long period of might and glory. In the 85 years that followed, the vision brought forward by Atatürk has revamped the entire fabric of the Turkish nation transforming the country into a modern and progressive one. Today Turkey stands proud to be a secular democracy, an active member of the European and Euro-Atlantic community pursuing full membership in the European Union and a growing market economy supported by a dynamic private sector and a young population.
As a treasure house of history, a melting pot of civilizations and a bridge between East and West, Turkey has always had special ties with both Europe and Asia. In this regard, we pay particular attention to enhance our political, economic and cultural relations with Japan.
Today, we are happy to celebrate our National Day together with the Japanese people with whom we enjoy a deep-rooted and long lasting friendship. Despite the vast distance that separates our countries, both our peoples have always harbored a strong sympathy and a deep respect for one another, creating an everlasting bond that has proven to be a concrete basis for our thriving bilateral relations.
Turkey and Japan have various common interests in a globalised world where regional problems tend to have overriding consequences. Both countries play an important role in the maintenance of peace and stability and the promotion of prosperity in their respective regions. Turkey and Japan also share similar approaches towards major international issues.
Turkeys geostrategic disposition along with its deep rooted historical and cultural ties within a vast geography extending from Europe to Central Asia necessitates a multi-dimensional and pro-active foreign policy. Through its unique geo-strategic location, Turkey serves not only as a crucial geographic, economic and political bridge between continents but acts as an important contributor to the regional and global peace and security in close cooperation and collaboration with its allies and partners. In this regard, the primary objective of the Turkish foreign policy is to help secure a prosperous and stable environment in its neighborhood which is conducive for friendly relations based on mutual understanding and cooperation in the region and beyond.
Turkey is also very keen on environmental issues. We are committed along with the rest of the world to combating global warming which has serious implications for our entire planet, but more so on the developing countries. With this conviction, we have taken an active interest in the negotiations that will shape up our new global climate in the post Kyoto era.
Turkey also pays special attention to the water crisis in the world, a concern we commonly share with Japan. In this regard, we hope that the 5th World Water Forum which we will host in Istanbul in March 2009 will inspire new thinking and concrete action on this important question.
I am happy to observe that Turkey and Japan have maintained a successful process of mutual consultation at the highest level on important international issues, particularly affecting our mutual interests. High level visits play an important part in this process.
In this regard, the first ever Presidential visit from Turkey to Japan by H.E. Abdullah Gül in June 2008 was a momentous event. H.E. President Gül, accompanied by several ministers and a large delegation of officials and prominent businessmen, met with His Majesty the Emperor, the then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, the President of the House of Councillors Satsuki Eda and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yohei Kono. The visit has provided a concrete basis to explore the ways and means to further our cooperation on issues of mutual interest and to reiterate our common determination to further strengthen the existing cordial bonds between our countries.
It is now our earnest hope and desire to welcome the corresponding Japanese dignitaries, as well as other high level officials in Turkey in the period ahead.
Japan and Turkey have managed to establish a strong economic and financial relationship for the last 30 years. During this period, Japan has contributed to a number of landmark development projects in Turkey. Especially after Turkey adopted liberal market economy policies in mid-1980s, there has been a second wave of Japanese direct investments in Turkey.
JICA has undertaken important technical assistance projects in Turkey in the last ten years. Many leading Japanese companies have invested in Turkey and those investments have proven to be greatly successful and mutually beneficial. Some major infrastructure projects were awarded to several Japanese companies who currently work on them.
Against this backdrop of common political and economical interests, I sincerely believe that both bilateral and multilateral cooperation between Turkey, an important power in its region and Japan, the world's second biggest economy, will bear fruitful results to their mutual benefit in the near future.
I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to reiterate, in my capacity as the Ambassador of Turkey, my commitment to contribute to the further strengthening and development of the existing ties of friendship and cooperation between Turkey and Japan and wish happiness and continued prosperity to the people of Japan.
H.E. Mr. Sermet Atacanlı, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Japan
October 29, 2008