Ambassador’s Statement at "Turkey-UK Science and Innovation Platform"

Abdurrahman BİLGİÇ 21.11.2016

Lord Clement Jones, Vice Chair of APPG for Turkey,
My dear friend Richard Moore, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Turkey,
Ms Cansen Başaran-Symes, President of TÜSİAD,
Distinguished participants,

Good morning,

Let me start by thanking TUSIAD and UK Prosperity Fund for organizing this timely event as the cooperation in the field of science and innovation between our countries constitutes an important part of our relations.

Bilateral relations between Turkey and the UK continue to remain strong and on a well-established basis. Building on this positive political atmosphere, our economic and commercial relations flourish with every passing day. Trade is the building block of our relations and the UK is one of Turkey’s leading trading partners.

The two countries are facing new circumstances in the wake of Brexit. The UK, as a leading trading nation, has the necessary skills, ingenuity and determination to make a success of Brexit. Yet, this process requires continuation of close cooperation in order to tailor the economic policies to the best of our interests. Economic relations between our two countries will be particularly important in the post-Brexit area. It will be essential to ensure that trade be carried out in the freest way possible with minimum obstacles. It is a welcome development that initial contacts between our countries have already started to this end.

Dear guests,
The economic reforms constitute one of the top priorities of the Government. And the Government continues with new incentives for investments, which are all related to science and technology in one way or another.

In fact, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced a few weeks ago new investment promotion package that aims to eliminate regional disparities. This package envisages a total investment of almost 50 billion Dollars in 23 cities (in South East Anatolia) over the next four year.

Over the last decade, we have performed remarkably well. Our economy has also been resilient to the global challenges. Our strong economic performance placed us ahead of all other OECD nations with an average growth rate of 5.2 % between 2010 and 2015. Over the last ten years, we have created 7 million new jobs.

Turkey plans to implement mega projects particularly in the fields of finance, transportation, infrastructure, energy, health, urban transformation and defence.

Total amount of envisaged infrastructure investments is around 1.5 trillion Dollars. The third airport in Istanbul will serve more passengers than any other airport in Europe. All of these projects will benefit from the latest science and technology.

Dear guests,

Science and innovation are placed at the hearth of our lives. The economic competitiveness of our countries can only be ensured through high-tech advances and innovation. A knowledge-based economy is also essential to safeguard the national security of our countries. In essence, we are living in a world where swift access to the information, and fast use of this information is vital. That is why Governments are putting technological development at the core of their development strategies.

It is important for a country to set up an effective partnership among higher education institutions, the industrial sector and the government in order to encourage research and innovation, and to ensure development of new technologies Countries with the academic institutions and companies that vigorously engage in research and development activities, have certain comparative advantages over the others.

Besides national efforts to promote science and innovation, cooperation with third countries is also key to gather the best research and academic talent around the world, and to ensure the transfer of technology. In that sense, Turkey and the UK have already established a solid basis for the cooperation in science and innovation. Newton-Katip Celebi Fund, which was launched in 2014, set up a strong partnership among research, higher education and innovation communities from Turkey and the UK. Today, our two countries are jointly funding many projects, ranging from agricultural technology to disaster management. We hope that these contacts will lead the way for a systemic and sustainable relationship between our two countries in the field of science and innovation.

I understand that Innovate UK is in close cooperation with Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) to ensure effective use of the Newton-Katip Çelebi Fund. Today, I am pleased to witness that the private sectors of both countries are also contributing to the further improve the relations in this field.

Dear participants,

The UK has a tremendous asset, as London has a world-wide recognition as the leading global center for research excellence. The presence of world-class institutions in the country helps place the UK at the heart of the global knowledge economy.

Against this backdrop, Turkey is a best suited partner for the UK in the field of science and development since Turkey is constantly shifting its policies towards high-value-added and high-tech projects. Research and development activities continue to remain at the top of the Turkish Government’s agenda. In this context, during the last decade, there has been a sizeable increase in the budget and number of personnel allocated to research and development in Turkey.

Furthermore, the UK-Turkey Year of Science and Innovation in 2015 was an important milestone in our scientific cooperation. Turkey and the UK intensified the bilateral cooperation through considerable exchange of knowledge and expertise.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Cooperation in the field of science and development requires long-run sustained efforts. And the current level of cooperation between our countries stands testament to the fact that Turkey and the UK see each other as long-term partners, with the shared intention of acting together both now and in the future, to accommodate the needs of the information age.

I am confident that this cooperation will be sealed with an agreement of cooperation in this field. We hope to see this cooperation stretch to new fields with large-scale cooperation projects, including the field of nuclear energy and defence industry in the very near future.

Thank you for your attention.


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