The history of our relations with Britain is dated back to over 500 years to the 16th century, when the first contacts between the Ottoman Empire and Britain developed in the field of commerce. The historic special ties between our countries provide for the solid ground and the necessary potential to enhance and expand the friendly relations in every field to the mutual benefit of our respective nations. In this regard, I am determined to develop and strengthen our relations in all fields.
Britain was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire. William Harborne was the first UK ambassador who assumed his duties at the Sublime Port in 1583. Ottoman Empire, on the other hand, appointed its first ambassador to a foreign country starting with Britain and Yusuf Agah Efendi became the first Ottoman Ambassador in London in 1793. As the first Ottoman Sultan to visit Western Europe, Sultan Abdulaziz visited Britain in 1867. King Edward VIII visited the Republic of Turkey in 1936 as the official guest of President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The spirit of our shared history was well captured by the message written by Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II in the visitors’ book at the Turkish memorial in Gallipoli during her visit to Turkey in 1971: “A fitting memorial to those who died in the Gallipoli campaign, in which our two nations gained a lasting respect for one another.” Turkish-British relations have continued to develop in all areas of significance, such as trade and industry, tourism, culture and defence, and gained a new momentum with the visit of Her Majesty the Queen to Turkey in May 2008. The visit of President Abdullah Gül to London on 6-9 November 2010 to receive his “2010 Chatham House Prize” and President Gül’s State Visit to the UK on 20-24 November 2011 upon Her Majesty the Queen’s invitation have brought a new dimension to this momentum.
The high-level visits have continued with the visit of Prime Minister Cameron to Turkey on 26-27 July in 2010 and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to the UK on 30-31 March 2011 upon Prime Minister Cameron’s invitation and on 26-28 July 2012 to attend the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
As NATO allies for almost six decades, Turkey and Britain stand shoulder to shoulder and continue to work together to promote peace, security and stability in a wide geography spanning from the Balkans to the Middle East and from Africa to Afghanistan,as well as cooperate in the fight against terrorism and to bring about a solution to the Cyprus question as two guarantor powers. Turkey and the UK are both members to many international organisations such as OECD, OSCE, WTO, G-20 and the Council of Europe.
The UK has always been one of the countries that strongly supported, with a visionary approach, Turkey’s accession process towards full membership to the European Union and I have all the evidence from the statements of leading and prominent British statesmen that this will continue to be so. Turkey’s relations and interactions with Europe for more than 700 years have been formed on the basis of common values and mutual dependency. Turkey has so much to offer and contribute to the EU in its strive for becoming an effective and powerful global actor, capable of confronting also tomorrow’s risks and challenges.
An approximate number of 400 thousand UK residents of Turkish origin constitute a special and strong human bond and cultural bridge between our two countries. I am pleased to witness that the invaluable members of the Turkish community, who take part successfully in almost all walks of life and in prominent roles, such as businessmen, academics and politicians in this country, make significant contributions to the multicultural British society. I am sure that while improving solidarity among themselves, the members of the Turkish community will also continue to displaying stronger willingness to enhancing their rightfully thriving place within the UK.
The economic and commercial relations between Turkey and Britain have steadily developed over the years. The UK has become one of the leading trade partners of Turkey. Our bilateral trade volume has reached an annual level of 15 billion Dollar in 2013. Bigger share of this sum (8,8 billion Dollar) is the export from Turkey to the UK. In 2013, the UK ranked 3rd in Turkey’s export partners . Approximately 2.5 million British tourists visit Turkey every year.
On behalf of my colleagues at the Turkish Embassy and myself, I extend our best wishes to the visitors of our website.