Speech Delivereed by H.E. Ambassador Mustafa Sarnıç, Consul General of Turkey in Jerusalem, on the Occasion of the Reception Organized by the Turkish-Palestenian Friendship Association, Ramallah

Mustafa Sarnıç 02.02.2014
Honourable Ministers,

Mr. Governor,

Mr. Mayor,

My dear Palestinian brothers and sisters,

It is a great honour and pride for me to attend this gathering that gives me an ample opportunity to meet with the prominent figures of Palestinian administration and society in the first days of my tenure as the General Consul of Turkey in Jerusalem and Ambassador of Turkey to Palestine.
Hence I would like to present, on behalf of my Turkish collegues and on my own behalf my sincere thanks and appreciation to Mr. Muhammad Jawhar, the President of the Palestinian-Turkish Friendship Association, who made the pioneering of such an auspicious event.

Dear friends,

As you may know that I assumed my new mission here in Jerusalem just a couple of weeks ago, in an unprecedently snowy day for this region. And I have been exerting utmost efforts since then to introduce myself to the Palestinian public as well as international community on the one hand, and try to digest the Palestinian issue that is the core of the all problems faced in the Middle East, on the other. I should recall at this point the name of my predecessor, Ambassador Şakir Torunlar who left an awesome heritage in the Consulate with his tireless work and close contacts he formed.

So, I did already some courtesy visits to the relevant Palestinian authorities, participated in the events of some civil society organizations and even did not hesitate to enter the private homes of my Palestinian brothers and sisters. For instance, last weekend during my private tour in the Old City with a friend of mine, within the vicinity of Omer Mosque, one young boy invited us to his home to drink tea. When I entered their home I felt so much free as if I am in an ordinary Turkish house. What was much surprising to me was to hear the poems of little girl Anhar in Turkish language. This explicitly proves how deep and strong relations we have with our Palestinian brothers.

In fact, dear friends, the common cultural and humanitarian bonds between us constitute the most enduring aspects of our relations. Turks and Palestinians have deep rooted relations of friendship and fraternity. Turks have left Jerusalem in 1917 and returned back by opening one of the first diplomatic missions of the new Republic in Jerusalem, in 1925. The Consulate General of Turkey in Jerusalem has always beeen kept open, with a brief exception when Israel decided to move its capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since 2005, Turkey has been represented in Palestine at the level of Ambassador through its mission in Jerusalem. Palestine is perhaps the only foreign policy issue where all the Turkish political parties unite around with consensus. A sign of Palestinian reflection in the lives of Turks is the naming of one of the major streets in Ankara, our capital, as Avenue of Palestine.

In one of his recent visits to Turkey, almost two years ago, President Mahmud Abbas was furnished with the honorary citizenship of Konya, one of the biggest cities of the country. In addition to Ramallah, there are many Palestinian towns which established twinning relations with towns in Turkey.
The volume of the recorded bilateral trade between our two countries is around 60 million US dollars. However, the real figures indicate that the volume is around 400 million dollars, where 90 percent is registered in Turkish-Israel trade. We are facilitating the Palestinian businessmen to obtain year long multiple entry visas. I hope that in few years all Palestinians may enter Turkey without visa. Furthermore, we have a very ambitious Project of Industrial Zone in Jenin to further encourage direct investments to Palestine. We are in close contact and coordination with other interlocutors who pay special attention to the realization of the said Project.

Dear friends, TICA, the prominent Turkish agency providing development assistance has undertaken many successfull projects in various fields ranging from health and education to infrastructure and capacity building. The Turkish Red Crescent and other Turkish NGO’s together with the representatives of Turkish media like TRT and AA, I believe, make our Palestinian brothers feel that Turkish people always stands with them.

The number of scholarships allocated for Palestinian students in Turkish universities are about 150 every year. We are pushing our capacity to make this figure for more.

In the field of security cooperation, our relations are excellent. The relevant institutions meet their counterparts in either country whenever they need without any obstacle. We have an established mechanism for the Palestinian police cadets to study in Turkish Police Academy in Ankara.

Not last but least, as a continuation of the Palestianian Cultural Week organized last year in Turkey, we are planning to hold a Turkish Cultural Week within this year in various cities in Palestine. The fact that a Cultural Center attached to our Consulate has been already opened in Jerusalem represents a meaningful step forward given the rich Turkish cultural and humanitarian heritage in Palestine. The ever incresing interest of Palestinians to the Turkish and Ottoman language courses organized by the said institution is a reminiscent to it.

If I may summarise, Palestine and Turkey have examplary bilateral relations. We are and will always with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in supporting their rigthful cause to have a sovereign statehood on pre-1967 borders in peace, security and tranquality with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Before concluding, I would like to congratulate Mr Jawhari for this succesfull organization.

Thank you.