Ahead of Turkey’s National Day, Times of Oman met with Ayşe Sözen Usluer, the ambassador of Turkey to Oman, who spoke about the importance of this day, and the way forward for her country.
During her interview, she also spoke of the high esteem in which both countries hold each other, and the plans that Turkey, which lies on the crossroads between Europe and Asia, has when it comes to fostering strong relations with other nations.
29 October is the National Day of Turkey, could you tell us more about this auspicious day?
This year we are celebrating the 98th anniversary of the foundation of the modern Turkish republic. As the 11th ambassador of Turkey in Oman, I have the pleasure to share my nation’s happiness with our Omani friends on this glorious occasion.
Turkish National Day means to us salvation, the rebirth of our Turkish nation, and independence. Turkey has become a respected member of the international community under the visionary leadership of Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who founded our nation 98 years ago.
Today under the leadership of His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it has accomplished to stand among the rising powers of the world. Turkey, with its growing economy and strong democracy, as well as its commitment to fundamental humanitarian values and visionary foreign policy, continues to be an inspiration to the region and to the world.
Turkey’s “Enterprising and Humanitarian Foreign Policy” reflects the enterprising spirit and humanitarian values of our nation. In line with the enterprising aspect of our foreign policy, we conduct a diplomacy that thinks globally but also acts locally in every corner of the world.
Can you share the basic principles of Turkey’s approach to the Middle East?
As the easternmost European, and the westernmost Asian country, Turkey aims to strengthen her existing strategic relations and establish new ones. Turkish foreign policy aims to protect interests in a volatile regional and global environment, while also shaping conditions for sustainable peace and development in our neighbourhood and beyond. As one of the major actors in the Middle East, we associate the stability, security and wellbeing of the Arab countries directly with our own.
As a part of our general perspective towards the region, we strive to increase our political, economic, social and cultural cooperation and engagement with the Middle Eastern countries, to the extent possible. In this framework, Turkey’s vision for its future with the Arab countries is to develop social, economic and cultural interaction, within a politically and security-wise stable environment, and on the basis of the win-win principle.
With this vision, we wish and seek to increase the prosperity and well-being of not only the Turkish people, but also the peoples of the countries of the region.
How is the current state of affairs between Turkey and Oman? Should we expect new developments?
We have excellent relations in many fields of cooperation. Both countries have embassies in their respective capitals since 1985 and 1986. We attach great emphasis on further deepening our bilateral affairs with the Sultanate, which is a bastion of security and an oasis of prosperity and progress in the region.
Ever since I took on my duty as the 11th ambassador of Turkey in August 2018, I have witnessed the journey of Oman in the new era under the visionary leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, following the golden path blazed by the Late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimour.
Our bilateral relations with Oman date back to the 16th century, and we continue to enhance our cooperation in every field. Our peoples have always had a high regard for one another, and these human-to-human contacts play a vital role for a deeper cooperation. We work effortlessly to further strengthen our ties.
Based on our strong historical bonds, our excellent bilateral relations are gaining momentum through high level visits. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has paid a fruitful visit to Oman in February 2021. He met with his counterpart Sayyid Badr Al Busaidi, and he was also received by His Highness the Deputy Prime Minister, Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said. Economic cooperation is a very important dimension of our relationship. Our trade volume has steadily increased starting from 2017 onwards.
It was at $500 million and $860 million, respectively, in 2018 and 2019. Due to falling oil prices and the pandemic, this trend was negatively affected but we still managed to reach $854.1 million in terms of trade trade volume, in 2020. Moreover, this figure has surpassed $900 million in the first eight months of 2021.
But even these figures are far from reflecting the true potential of our capacities. We believe there is a huge potential for cooperation in several fields, including health, tourism and defence industries. This year, we have taken an historical step to further enhance our relations with a landmark project. With the invaluable support of the Government of Oman, Gebze Organised Industrial Zone (GOSB) and the Public Authority of Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ) have agreed to establish a Turkish industrial zone in Duqm.
Deep rooted humanitarian bonds amongst our peoples constitute the biggest asset that enables us to build a fruitful atmosphere for developing Turkish-Omani cooperation. Taking this opportunity, we are working closely with the Sultanate to increase cultural and educational exchange and tourism between our countries. To this end, the Oman-Turkey Friendship Association, which was established by the Omani Foreign Ministry this year, will be a glorious symbol for our continued cooperation.
May God continue to bestow his blessing to the people of Oman and His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik with good health, peace and welfare.