Sayın Büyükelçi Ahmet Yıldız'ın Saraybosna Siyasal Bilimler Fakültesi'nde yaptığı konuşma
It is a great pleasure for me to address all the distinguished guests and dear students who are with us today. First of all, I would like to thank the President of the Political Scientists Association of BiH, Mirza Becha and the members of the Association for providing me this opportunity to be here with you today.
In the busy daily schedules of the diplomatic life, we diplomats, often miss to be in places like this, in the academia, where thoughts can be shared and discussed in an intellectual manner. I thank you all for being here today.
Today, I would like to talk about the bilateral relations of our two countries, with a special emphasis on our economic relations.
Looking from the regional perspective, as a Balkan country herself, Turkey has a sense of responsibility and is committed to being a force for peace, security, stability and welfare in our common neighborhood. With these objectives, we have always been very active in trying to establish mechanisms which help us transcend borders, like the Trilateral Summits that we hold together with the leaders of the countries in the region. Such initiatives help us to build a larger sense of belonging and to create a more secure area of interaction.
At the bilateral scale, I am delighted to say that Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina has almost excellent bilateral relations. I have now been here for six months and my colleagues at the Embassy and I, we work on issues regarding cooperation, not problem-solving. As political science scholars and students, you probably know what a valuable asset and a good point to start with; this is, for any diplomat. Our two countries have deep historical, cultural, political ties.
Almost every week we have a delegation from Turkey visiting their counterparts here in BiH or a Bosnian delegation going to Turkey. We have intensive mutual visits at every level. It is not only the politicians or bureaucrats who come. We have chambers of commerce coming for Fairs, like the Tourism Days we had at the end of March in Sarajevo or the Trade Fair we had in Mostar at the beginning of March. We have visits from our cultural institutions, for instance, we were one of the countries which was most extensively represented at the Sarajevo Winter Festival this year; we have cooperations between our educational institutions, namely, for instance, the Turcology Project, in which University of Sarajevo’s Turcology Department also plays an important role. Not only Sarajevo University, but the Universities of Tuzla and Zenica are part of this project as well.
I suppose there is no need to draw your attention to the frequency of high-level visits between our countries, as you probably already follow them from the media. Our Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers, Parliamentarians meet very often and develop closer cooperation between our two friendly countries.
In short, we witness result oriented cooperation at almost every level. I say “almost”. I regret to say that unlike my expectations before coming here, the level of our economic relations is far from the expectations.
I will be giving you the bilateral trade figures in a minute. There has definitely been a dramatic increase in the last one year as well. However, when we refer to the political and cultural relations that we have, our economic and commercial relations are far behind this atmosphere, especially when the real potential is taken into account.
In terms of the economic and commercial relations, considering the external trade numbers, we see that the volume of external trade in between our countries increased in 2011. According to the BiH Statistics Agency, the import of Turkey from BiH, which was 55.296.000 US Dollars in 2010 increased by 93% in 2011 and reached to 106.709.000 US Dollars. Furthermore, the exports of Turkey to BiH, which was 256.640.000 US Dollars in 2010 made an increase of 24,7% and reached to 320.089.000. With a total external trade volume of 427 million US Dollars, Turkey has become the 10th country both regarding the imports and exports of BiH.
On the other hand, the Free Trade Agreement between Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina was signed in 2002 and it entered into force in 2003. Eliminating the tariff and non-tariff barriers for trade, Free Trade Agreements usually create strong effects. In our case, it took time to see the effects of it on the real figures.
In regards to the investment relations, again there has been some growth in the recent years. Investments are usually in the sectors of manufacturing, transport, banking and trade. Around 70 companies are operating in different sectors. We can say that the major investments are the privatization of Natron Hayat and Şişecam Soda Lukavac as well as Greenfield investments of Ziraat Bank and Turkish Airlines. Recently, the Turkish company Fidan received the concession of the Blagajska Tekija near Mostar. It should also be noted that as services’ sector investment, there are two Turkish universities located in Sarajevo. Turkish investments in BiH have reached 131 billion Euros by the end of 2010 and Turkey ranks as the 9th, among the countries who invests in BiH.
Yet, we would like to see more Turkish investments here. We would like to see more investments here in BiH; not only from Turkey but from other countries as well.
Apart from all the other reasons like security, more democracy, and such, the economic reasons are one of the leading motives behind our support for BiH’s membership to NATO and the EU. We consider these two processes very important
Let us be honest, I think Turkey is probably one of the most experienced countries with regards to the EU process. True, we are not a member yet; however, we have more experience on the process, even more than some of the member states. I have personally seen how the EU process improved the investment climate in Turkey. With this process, we changed the laws and regulations and paved the way for a more investor friendly environment. We improved our production standards. We broadened the geographies to which we sell products. This may also happen for BiH. This is why the EU process should be taken very seriously. This is why we would be glad to see BiH as a member of the EU before Turkey. For us, your membership is more important than our own membership; because your membership will contribute to the prosperity and well-being of the whole region.
Secondly, the NATO membership is important. We appreciate the recent positive atmosphere among the major political parties and the reconciliation reached on the issue of defense property. We would like to see concrete and timely steps by NATO Chicago Summit in May and the start of the MAP.
We support the NATO and the EU membership of not only BiH, but all the countries in the region. Why?
Being a part of these international structures will create stability and sustainability. This will work well for the economy. Investors always search for the stable, calm and profitable environment. The international structures provide the suitable climate for investment. We have seen this in Turkey. We would like to see it happen in BiH, too.
Well, as Turkey, we have always been a friend of your country. We will always be. We are with every citizen of BiH, who believes and supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of BiH as well as works for the common good of this country…
Our support will be there, whenever BiH needs it. Our history binds us, our culture binds us, our excellent political relationship binds us. Thus, the future, as well, binds us. As I mentioned, our cooperation is perfect in some areas and “less perfect” in some others. My job as the Ambassador of Turkey is to work in order to improve our relations in every area. Since I am now with a big group of youngsters, who are the future of BiH, some of whom most probably will become our counterparts here in the near future; I also would like to kindly ask you all to also help us in this regard. Let us work together.
Thank you all.
Pazartesi - Cuma
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Büyükelçiliğimiz Konsolosluk Şubesi, acil durumlar haricinde Pazartesi - Cuma günleri 08:30-12:30 saatleri arasında müracaat almaktadır.
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