Turkey plays a key role in Europe’s energy diversification and security

Egemen Bağış:

Turkey plays a key role in Europe’s energy diversification and security

We are strong partners with Czechia

The Czech Republic and Turkey both began their modern-day existence at around the same year – if we consider the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 as the beginning of the Czech Republic. What are the significant points in Turkish-Czech relations over the last century?

Turkish-Czech relations date back for almost a hundred years and have always been friendly, since the establishment of our diplomatic relations with Czechoslovakia in 1924 until today, apart from the stagnation of the 1939-1945 period or the following Cold War years,” Egemen Bağış, Ambassador of Turkey to the Czech Republic, explains at the beginning of our talk.

The issue of strengthening Turkey’s relations with the European Union may return to the table. Is it something that is part of your agenda at the moment, also with regard to the ongoing Czech presidency of the Council of the EU? For example, the Turkish president took part in the first meeting of the European Political Community (EPC) on October 6 in Prague.

We see Czechia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU as a great opportunity to improve the bilateral relations between Turkey and the EU. The Czech Government has been very efficient and productive presiding the Council so far. The measures that the Presidency help facilitated to adopt up to this point have been the most impressive in terms of dealing with needs of Ukraine and Ukrainians as well as the energy crisis.

As an EPC participating state, Turkey welcomed this new initiative and actively took part in it. President Erdoğan emphasized the key role Turkey has to play in Europe’s energy diversification and security. Turkey has long been the most important partner of the EU in migration crisis. We appreciate the kind organizational support the Czech Government provided us at the EPC and also expecting tangible agenda from the Presidency to further accession talks between Turkey and the EU.

Partnerships in automotive or IT

Turkey is a huge market with 84 million people. Which Czech companies have succeeded in the Turkish market?

Both countries regard each other as important trade partners. Therefore, mutual trade and investment figures indicate progress in both ways. Czech Republic is regarded as a country of engineering and manufacture; hence we see that the role of Czech companies is remarkable particularly in energy, machinery and automotive sector. Skoda is a very well-known Czech brand in Turkey. Not only Skoda Auto, but also Skoda Transportation and Skodaexport are among the popular companies. In the field of energy, Turkey has received investments from a number of Czech companies such as Energo-Pro and ČEZ. Metrostav, Ferrit, Sigma and Colt are among many other Czech companies operating in Turkey. We are keen to attract even more Czech companies in our country and further improve our trade and investment relations.

Please also name any Turkish companies that operate in the Czech market, either as employers or investors, or any companies that otherwise cooperate with Czech companies.

Czechia, thanks to its geographical position, has always been an important investment and trade destination for logistics companies that transport Turkish goods to Europe and vice versa. As Turkish companies improve cooperation with their Czech counterparts recently, we witness that there is an ever-increasing number of logistics companies that offer intermodal transport solutions and their warehouses for Turkish companies that aim at using Czechia as a hub for delivery to other European countries. This is very remarkable in automotive sector; since Turkish suppliers to many European automotive companies benefit from Czechia’s convenient position as a logistic hub.

Turkish companies have traditionally been prominent in automotive industry and engineering. Recently, Turkish buses, both conventional and electric/hybrid, have become more visible in Czech regions and cities. Following its partnership with PPF/Skoda Transportation, TEMSA has been popular in Czech market for example. Other public transport companies that export to Czechia include BMC and Otokar. In home electronics, Turkey is proud to be among the key players, as well. In this field, Beko enjoys being among top suppliers in Czech market.

Important to mention are also Turkish textiles companies, which indeed produce and export for well-known European brands. Likewise, Turkish jewelry, aluminum, plastics and steel are preferred by Czech entities. Last but not least, we anticipate to see increased cooperation between our countries in defense industry solutions, IT or digital transformation.

Over to cultural relations. What activities does the Turkish Embassy in Prague undertake to support the rapprochement of our two nations?

For all events we organize, I will mention first and second Turkish Culture Festivals in Czechia in 2021 and in 2022, which were really successful and which we will therefore continue to pursue. Besides that, our efforts to establish sister city relations between Turkish and Czech cities and towns continue unabated.

Turkey is not just about seaside holidays

For Czechs as well as for many other nations, Turkey is a very popular summer destination, especially for a beach holiday, while Istanbul is also steadily popular. What other areas of your country would you recommend to Czech tourists, who are often known for their adventurous and curious nature?

Turkey is a country with a big four seasons tourism potential. In this sense, the widespread trend of alternative tourism has found its way in Turkey. Accordingly, our country has become attractive in the tourism sector in many different areas from mountaineering to underwater diving sports, from winter sports to river-rafting tourism and from faith tourism to congress tourism.

Turkey also has nineteen cultural and natural assets accepted on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Moreover, they are in different geographical regions of our country, such as Göreme National Park and Cappadocia, Ephesus or Göbeklitepe Archaeological Site. In this context, our country is a country with unique beauties for culture and nature tourism. It is also a great destination for winter sports so all skiers should try Turkey during the upcoming winter months.

In this regard – what has captured your attention the most during your time in the Czech Republic?

I must stress the rich cultural heritage and the natural beauty of Czechia as my favorite interests. This country has adorable landmarks from ancient eras. Not only Prague, which is a dreamlike place, but also other cities and its countryside present remarkable castles and holy monuments. The natural parks the country has offer refreshing, almost healing time to visitors. No wonder that our countries arouse great interest among millions of tourists all around the world.

One more experience: Recently I’ve started playing golf, and to my surprise Czechia has quite enjoyable courses even though it doesn’t have very warm climate. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to invite all golf players in the Czech Republic to try our golf courses in Turkey.

Box:

In Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Programs, our country and Czechia have developed a significant number of collaborations. For the period 2014-2020, the number of participants, including higher education students, who went to Czechia with education and youth projects was approximately 19.000; and the number of participants from Czechia to our country was approximately 4.000. Between 2014 and 2021, the number of higher education students who went to Czechia from our country was 5839. With this figure, Czechia is the 5th country to which students are sent from our country, among 32 Programme member countries. In the same years, 928 higher education students from Czechia were hosted in our country. With this figure, Czechia ranks 10th among 32 Programme member countries that send students to our country.

Czech version of article TradeNews_5_2022_Egemen_Bagis-Turecko

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