Büyükelçi Ahmet Demirok'un "al Watan" Gazetesinde Yayınlanan Mülakatı , 08.11.2015
Büyükelçi Ahmet Demirok'un, Türkiye ile Katar arasındaki ilişkilere dair verdiği mülakat Katar'da Arapça yayınlanan "Al Watan" gazetesinde bugün (8 Kasım) yer almıştır.
“H.E Ahmet Demirok, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Doha, has praised the level of the Qatari-Turkish relations by saying that the ties between the two countries have flourished in all areas, where last year has witnessed a significant increase in trade and culture and security and military coordination, adding that relations between Turkey and Qatar is increasing, and the two countries are strategic partners.
The Ambassador Demirok, in an interview to Al-Watan, has stressed that Qatar is a major regional power. Many of the parties in this region consider Qatar as a trusted partner, and her positions are welcomed by the people of the region. He pointed out that Doha has become a regional center for diplomacy, where many international organizations and meetings are hosted every year. The economic power of the State of Qatar is also noteworthy, as it is among the largest investors in the world. The Turkish Ambassador also pointed out that the bilateral trade volume between the two countries amounted to one billion and 310 million dollars in 2014. He noted that Turkish construction companies form the driving force of the Turkish investments in Qatar, where those companies carried out 119 projects so far in Qatar.
On the cultural and educational relations, Demirok said that it is growing continuously and the year 2015 has witnessed a major development in the cultural field because it is the cultural year between Qatar and Turkey, pointing out that the first Turkish school will open its doors next year.
1. In the beginning, we present you our congratulation in the occasion of Turkish National Day. How you can see this occasion?
We are celebrating the 92nd anniversary of the Republic of Turkey this year. The Republic of Turkey was founded from scratch after great sacrifices of our ancestors. Taking this opportunity, I hereby pay tribute with great gratitude and respect to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his companions for their immense contribution to Turkey’s marching forward.
Consecutive generations in Turkey in the course of these ninety-two years, managed well to create value-added for the homeland; and now Turkey has become a full-fledged democracy with a competitive, robust and liberal economy, young and skilled population and functioning institutions.
Turkey resolutely continues its efforts to help bring peace and stability back to this region on the the principle of “Peace at Home, Peace in the World”. We believe that our constructive vision will not only guarantee our national interests but will also help achieve the common goals of humanity.
2. How do you evaluate the relations between Qatar and Turkey?
Over the last decade, relations between Turkey and Qatar gained a strong momentum. Consecutive governments in Turkey under President HE Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and now under Prime Minister HE Ahmet Davutoğlu and Qatari administrations under HH the Father Emir and HH the Emir, have been working to keep this pace. As a result, our relations have been flourishing in all areas.
Throughout the last year, we have witnessed an increasing number of trade, cultural and military delegations. The current year is the Year of Culture and we will have more events in the days to come. We are also holding “Nasr 2015” joint military exercise in Qatar. We are seeking to receive more investment from Qatari businesses. Each day, ties connecting Turkey and Qatar to each other are getting stronger. I can simply say that we are strategic partners.
3. What about economic relations between the two countries?
Economic relations are not indifferent to the dynamic growth of our relations in all fields. I am glad to say that our economic ties are getting stronger each day. Of course, the brotherly relations between Turkey and Qatar motivate the two nations to deepen their business and trade relations.
Bilateral trade volume of two countries reached 1 billion 310 million US Dollars in 2014. The exports of Turkey to Qatar was 344 million US Dollars and imports of Turkey from Qatar was 965 million US Dollars. Yet, this does not reflect the true potentials of our countries. There is still room to advance our trade relations. We believe that the exports of Turkey to Qatar will further increase as construction projects in Qatar accelerates.
4. As we know, the mutual investment is the most important aspect of cooperation; would you like to inform us about the investments between Qatar and Turkey?
Investment is of greater significance given the notable growth and dynamism demonstrated by the two countries. In particular, I can say that Turkish construction companies constitute the driving force of Turkish investments to Qatar and I am proud to see Turkish construction companies going from strength to strength in Qatar. They assumed 119 projects so far, which corresponds to 15.1 billion US dollars. Among these projects, Museum of Islamic Arts, New Doha International Airport, Qatar National Convention Center, Salwa Road, North Road, Ras Laffan to Mesaieed Gas Pipeline project and Qatargas Onshore Facilities are the most prominent ones.
On the other side, Turkey, with its updated, modernized and simple legal basis for foreign investors offers ample opportunities for Qatari businessmen. Qatar has already invested in several projects in Turkey, primarily in the real estate, banking and media sectors. We expect to see more Qatari investment in Turkey.
5. What about the investment in energy field?
Given the strategic nature of our relations and Qatar’s abilities in energy sector, I believe it is crucial to intensify cooperation on energy. We are thus keen to further strengthen our bilateral relations in this field.
As its economy growing, Turkey’s demand for energy is increasing. Turkish policy on energy relies on securing its energy demand and being a transit hub for energy. With its vast experience, Qatar is well positioned to support Turkey’s energy policies.
6. Does your country put specific priorities and strategies towards the investment in Qatar and vice versa?
It is among our top priorities to intensify economic relations between the two countries. It goes without saying that intensified cooperation and interaction in economic and commercial fields will have positive reflections in the other areas as well.
We are stepping up our efforts to encourage more Qatari investments in Turkey. Likewise, we attach equal importance to the increased awareness of the Turkish businessmen and entrepreneurs about the broadening opportunities and improving business/investment climate in Qatar. We believe that each and every Turkish investment in Qatar will be a bridging factor for broader Qatari investment in Turkey and vice versa.
On my part, I am doing my best to encourage both sides to explore these opportunities. We would like to have two-way cooperation rather than one way investments.
7. Could you inform us about the cooperation in field of banking?
Turkey’s significance on the world finance stage is on the rise. The financial capital of the country, İstanbul, with its rich and vibrant economy, is now slated to become a World Finance Center. The country’s banking industry demonstrated remarkable resilience to the effects of the global financial crisis without any government backing, and Turkish banks are now regarded as one of the soundests in Europe. Turkey’s financial market is highly liberalized, foreign and local investors are equally treated and there are more than 20 banks with foreign capital.
Because of this strong banking system in Turkey, Commercial Bank Of
Qatar (CBQ) finalised the acqusition of a majority stake in Turkish lender Alternatifbank.
We are also expecting the Qatari banks to apply for new banking licences to Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency of Turkey.
8. What about the volume of tourism between the two countries?
We are happy to see increasing Qatari interest on Turkey. In this context, the number of the Qataris who visited Turkey in 2014 has exceeded 29 thousands. It was around 5 thousand five years ago. Turkish citizens have also been visiting Qatar as well, mainly for business purposes. As you know, Turkey is the top destination for our Qatari brothers and sisters in 2015.
9. How you can describe the cultural and educational relations between Qatar and Turkey?
It is for sure that the expanding political and economic relations will further consolidate ties at grassroots level. Turkey and Qatar have a shared history and cultural affinity and cultural relations are getting stronger. We are celebrating 2015 as the Year of Culture between Turkey and Qatar. Turkey and Qatar are home to rich and diverse cultural practices and this year gives a great opportunity to release the potential in cultural and social fields and to cement our relations at grassroots level. We are witnessing a chain of colorful organizations throughout the cultural year. “Qatari Cultural Week” in Istanbul and “Turkish Festival” in Doha will display effective parts of historical and modern aspects of Turkish and Qatari culture. As a concrete step of our efforts, I see with great pleasure that Turkish and Qatari people are getting more and more interested to know each other.
An important part of human to human contacts is education and one of our main objectives is to enhance cooperation in this field between our brotherly countries. In this regard, we are hard working to complete the legal basis of our relation. The first Turkish school will be open up next year. We desire to cooperate with our brotherly institutions and Universities here to promote teaching and learning of Turkish. We have also great universities and institutes in Turkey.
Approximately 30 thousands foreign students are being educated in Turkish universities. I believe that Turkish universities could offer great opportunities for our Qatari brothers and sisters for their undergraduate and graduate studies.
10. How you evaluate the growing role of Qatar in the region diplomatically and economically?
Qatar is a key regional power. Its role is increasingly becoming important. We can see that for many parties in this region, Qatar is a trusted partner. Its principled, long-term stance on regional developments is welcomed by the peoples of the region. With such vision, Qatar is becoming a regional hub of diplomacy. It hosts many international organizations and meetings every year.
Qatar’s economic power is also noteworthy. We have recently read on press that Qatar is among the biggest investors in the world. Economic power always feeds diplomatic capabilities. I believe that Qatar’s increasing economic means will further elevate its political, diplomatic stature.
11. Can you tell us some information about the Turkish strategy towards Syrian refugees?
From the very beginning of the crisis in Syria, Turkey has indisputably been the biggest supporter of Syrian people and we still have an open door policy to those who are running away from the brutalism of the Syrian regime. 2.2 million Syrian people are living in Turkey now. We are trying hard to provide them a life with dignity.
The refugee crisis is a clear example of how Syrian upheaval spillovers to farther regions. European countries are now acknowledging the fact that they are not immune from the crisis in the Middle East.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Turkey last week to discuss that. Turkey is a key country in this regard. Turkey has been funding the 2,5 million asylum-seekers only by itself so far. We can see that Turkey and the EU are now moving to an understanding to address the refugee crisis. I believe that we will be able to create a balance in sharing the humanitarian, social and economic costs of these displaced people.
12. What is your opinion about the next parliamentary elections in Turkey?
I hope the best for Turkish people.
13. Would you inform us about the Turkish - Gulf relations in general?
The Gulf region is critical to global stability and security. Besides its huge energy reserves that is vital to all economies, its proximity to region’s turbulent points like Syria, Iraq, Yemen is a concern for the world.
We are promoting stronger Turkish-Gulf relations and we are dedicated to do so. Our relations with Gulf countries are also getting stronger in the fields of security and economics. Gulf region is a grand investor globally and we want to take our share as well.”
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