I am very pleased to serve as the 26th Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Greece as of 15 October 2016.
Today, further advancement of the progress achieved in Turkish-Greek relations in the recent past, on the basis of mutual benefit and cooperation, stands as an objective shared by both countries at the highest level. The establishment of the High Level Cooperation Council during the visit of our President to Greece on 14-15 May 2010 when he was Prime Minister, constitutes a concrete manifestation of our joint will and determination to this end. The second meeting of the Council was held in İstanbul on 4 March 2013, the third meeting was organised in Athens on 5-6 December 2014 and the fourth one was held in İzmir on 8 March 2016. With this Council mechanism, we aim at providing Turkish-Greek relations with a new, structuralized and regular framework.
The most visible outcome of the dialogue process and cooperation at the political level between Turkey and Greece can be traced in the field of relations between the two peoples of both countries. Turkish and Greek people have increasingly visited Greece and Turkey and the number of visits have amounted to around one million per country. The Embassy and our Consulates-General and Culture and Tourism Office in Greece organise cultural events like Turkish Cultural Week, Turkish Films Days, concerts, book presentations, exhibitions, seminars etc. which enables the peoples of two countries to know each other better.
Our bilateral trade volume with Greece, around 3 billion Euros in 2015, is not at the desired level. Our exports amount to 1 billion 250 million Euros while our imports are nearly 1 billion 750 million Euros. We believe the aforementioned figures do not represent the full potential of the two neighbouring countries and hope that we will achieve progress while Greece is recovering from its economic difficulties.
Promotion of mutual investments will be among my main priorities in my tenure with a view to further bolstering our economic and commercial relations together with human contacts, up to the level that reflects the true potentials of our two countries. Necessary support is given to Turkish companies that are interested in the privatization program in Greece. Our Commercial Offices in Athens and Thessaloniki give necessary service to Turkish and Greek businessmen on commercial issues.
We consider our kinsmen in Greece and the Greek minority in our country as an important bridge of friendship for the promotion of Turkish-Greek relations. In this framework, we wish that our kinsmen, who are loyal and law-abiding citizens, continue to contribute to their country’s progress in every possible field. We wish they will place absolute priority on education and excel in every layer of the society. In this respect, we believe that the best way for both Turkey and Greece is to move on towards further improvement of the conditions for their respective minorities; regardless of mutuality.
We believe that historical and cultural monuments do not belong solely to the countries in which they are located, but are part of the common heritage of humanity. With this understanding, in Turkey, particular importance is given for the preservation of all historical and cultural monuments, including churches and monasteries. Likewise, we hope that our neighbour Greece will continue to do its best in order to preserve Ottoman-Turkish monuments existing in its territory. We are convinced that the preservation of historical and cultural monuments, by promoting tourism activities between our countries, will contribute to the economy, on one hand, and to the rapprochement process between our peoples, on the other.
We observe the positive developments in the construction process of a mosque in Athens. We also hope that the expectations of the Muslims in Athens and Thessaloniki for a Muslim cemetery will be met soon.
There are four Turkish Consulates-General in Greece; namely, in Athens-Piraeus, Komotini, Rhodes and Thessaloniki which, by serving our respective citizens and by their efforts towards the advancement of bilateral economic, social and cultural relations, contribute substantially to our work in Greece.
It is our fundamental wish to expand the horizon of relations between Turkey and Greece in every possible field. I would also like to emphasize that we also count on your support in this direction.
On behalf of our Embassy, I extend you our best wishes and remind you that we are always at your disposal.