On the occasion of the 91st anniversary of the Proclamation of the Republic of Turkey, Ambassador of the Republic of Turnkey Mr. Arslan Hakan Okcal and Mrs. Pinar Okcal hosted a reception at the Crystal Ballroom of Lotte Hotelin Seoul on Oct. 29, 2014, which was attended by many distinguished guests from both Korean society and the international community in Korea.
Attending the party, among other guests, were Chairman Lee Hahn-koo of the Korea-Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Association, First Vice Minister Cho Tae-yong of Foreign Affairs and Minister Park Sungchoon of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, and many other distinguuished guests from all walks of life, including he represetativess of the Media such as Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.
From the international community, the Diplomatic Corps in particular, came many distinguished guests, among them many mission chiefs who included Ambassadors Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaijan, Dato Haji Harun Ismail of Brunei Darussalam, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia, Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi of Kuwait, Mohamed Salim Alharthy of Oman, Zahid Nasrulah Khan of Pakistan, Milan Lajciak of the Slovak Republic, Mohamed Ali Nafti of Tunisia and Bakhtier N. Ibragimov of Uzbekistan (CDA).
Following the live presentation of the National Anthems of the two countries by a Korean lady vocalist, a special message of President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an of the Republic of Turkey was read to the audience.
In the message President Erdogan said inpart: “With its steadily growing economy, its democracy reaching higher standards, its resolute European Union strategy, its membership to the G-20, and its active policies in international platforms, Turkey will never abstain from mobilizing its wide experience for the sake of regional and global peace and the benefit of humanity.” (See excerpts from the speech towards the end of this Article.)
Then there were congratulatory remarks by Chairman Lee Han-koo of the Korea-Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Association and First Vice Minister Cho Tae-yong.
Excerpts from the message from President Erdo?an:
I would like to congratulate the Republic Day of all our citizens living in this friendly country where you perform your duties; I pray the Almighty that the 91st Anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey will conduce to the benefaction of our country, our nation, and all friendly and brotherly countries.
I convey our peace and solidarity messages to representatives of all friendly and brotherly countries, on their behalf to all friendly and brotherly peoples who share our enthusiasm on the 91st Anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey; and to all of our mission personnel, and extend the wholehearted greetings of our nation.
The Republic of Turkey has a foreign policy understanding, which defends peace, solidarity, justice and prosperity in the world; respects internal affairs and territorial integrity of each and every country, and upholds human rights and freedoms above everything else.
These values we have carefully preserved and safeguarded for 91 years will remain to be the unshakeable fundamental principles of Turkish foreign policy in the future, as is the case today. Turkey will never hesitate to support justice, righteousness and peace, and will continue to courageously defend the rights of the oppressed and victimized in every single issue.
With its steadily growing economy, its democracy reaching higher standards, its resolute European Union strategy, its membership to the G-20, and its active policies in international platforms, Turkey will never abstain from mobilizing its wide experience for the sake of regional and global peace and the benefit of humanity.
With these thoughts, I congratulate once again the Republic Day of all of our citizens, brothers and sisters, and our relatives living there.
On this meaningful day, on behalf of my country and my nation, I would like to convey my gratitude to friendly and brotherly countries, their people and representatives who share our excitement and sentiments, and I would like to send my deep feelings of affection and greetings.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Okcal:
Welcome and thank you very much for your kind attendance to celebrate the Turkish Republic Day. It is a great honour for me and my wife to host you at our first National Day reception in Korea.
Today we are celebrating the 91st foundation anniversary of the Republic of Turkey by our great leader Kemal Atat?rk. The Republic of Turkey was not only a culmination of a long and painful liberation war against foreign occupation, but also a revolutionary departure from the old to create a new state and society from the ashes of a collapsed Empire by embracing modern values in all walks of life. We are grateful to Atat?rk and the other founding fathers of our Republic. We take great pride in what has been achieved so far; Turkey has become a regional power contributing to global efforts for a better world and an inspiration for many friendly nations. But we are also aware that there is a lot to be done, especially as we approach the hundredth anniversary of the Republic in 2023.
Turkey and Korea have been time-tested close friends. We are actually “blood brothers” since the inception of our relations and strategic partners since 2012. Turkey as a member of the free world stood by the Republic of Korea in its difficult times of the Korean War. We are proud that Turkey’s contributions and sacrifices during the war have never been forgotten by our Korean friends. Koreans also stood by Turkey and extended a helping hand as it faced hard times in the past as well, like the devastating earthquake in 1999 which killed close to twenty thousand people. We are grateful for these genuine gestures of friendship.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, the world is no safer than the Korean War years. Actually the threats we face are more serious and asymmetric than ever. Turkey knows this very well due to the different challenges and threats it is struggling with for many decades. The ongoing crises in the Middle-East and the recent threat posed by ISIS triggered massive waves of refuges towards Turkey. As a responsible member of the international community, Turkey’s commitment to international peace and security and to the neighbouring peoples who face vicious and inhumane onslaughts remains as strong as ever.
2014 was an unfortunate year of grief and agony for both Korean and Turkish nations. The sinking of the Sewol ferry was a real catastrophe for Korea. Turkey suffered the Soma coal mine disaster which took almost the same number of innocent lives only two weeks later. As I stand before you, I want to send once more our heartfelt condolences to all bereaved families for their lost ones.
2014 was also a year of important elections in both countries. Korea held its local elections; Turkey its presidential elections, which was the first in the Turkish democratic system. We are pleased that Foreign Minister HE Yun Byun-se represented the Republic of Korea at the inauguration ceremony of President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an.
There have been other important visits reciprocally. The Mayor of ?stanbul, HE Kadir Topba? visited Korea in September for the “?stanbul in Korea” cultural activities which attracted large crowds in Gyeongju, Busan and Seoul. The President of the Turkish Parliament HE Cemil ?i?ek paid an official visit to Korea only last week.
2014 was an auspicious year for the MIKTA group which brings Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia together. Turkey will be cooperating closely with Korea within the MIKTA during its term of chairmanship for bringing this unique gathering of middle powers to further maturation.
Turkey on the other hand will be chairing the G-20 as of December 1st, 2014, for the successive year. We will be looking forward to working closely with Korea and every other member country in the G-20 for a successful term.
As many of you know, the FTA between Turkey and Korea came into force last year. This year by initialling the “investments” and “services” parts of the FTA, we finalized the first FTA that Turkey has with an Asia-Pacific country. Our bilateral trade volume in 2014 will be around seven billion Dollars approaching the benchmark of ten billion. However, there is room for further increasing, diversifying and balancing the bilateral trade and both parties are determined towards this end. I can also inform you with satisfaction that Korean investments are increasing in Turkey although the level is not yet corresponding to the capacity of both countries. Tourism is another area which has good prospective. We are expecting around 200 thousand Korean tourists in 2014 in Turkey which is a major tourism destination hosting 40 million tourists a year.
I believe that in the few years ahead, we will be able to talk of higher trade, investment and tourism figures, let alone closer bilateral cooperation in the diplomatic, cultural and social fields. We have all the confidence in the hard working people of both countries for this end.
As you can notice, our main sponsor for this event is the Turkish Airlines, the THY, which has 11 direct flights between ?stanbul and Seoul per week. There will be a lucky draw with a prize of a THY Seoul-Istanbul round-flight for a couple. You only need to leave your business card in one of the bowls at the entrance to have chance.
Tonight we are happy to present you some tastes from the rich Turkish cuisine. Let me also inform you that, barring water, all the beverages and drinks are Turkish, thanks to our sponsors. Please do enjoy our food and drinks. I am thankful to my Embassy staff who worked so hard for the success of this event.