October 29, marks the centennial of the foundation of the latest Turkish state in history. The Republic of Türkiye was proclaimed under the visionary leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. A hundred years ago, on October 29, 1923, the birth of a modern, democratic, and secular nation was declared to the whole world. The journey of the Turkish Republic has been one of transformation, resilience, and progress. Over the past century, Türkiye has undergone comprehensive and far-reaching reforms in political, economic, and social spheres, emerging as a vibrant and dynamic nation that bridges the continents of Europe and Asia.
The significance of Türkiye’s successful transformation and emergence as a beacon of stability and prosperity is perhaps more visible than ever today, as our entire region continues to grapple with volatile situations, wars, conflicts, and humanitarian crises. Türkiye stands as a prominent key player in regional and international affairs by addressing global challenges, contributing to peace and stability, and promoting dialogue and cooperation; guided by the enduring objective to achieve “Peace at Home, Peace in the World”, as wisely put into words by Atatürk.
As the easternmost country in Europe and the westernmost in Asia, Türkiye aims to strengthen existing strategic relations and establish new ones. Türkiye has a strategic partnership with the United States as a NATO ally and considers the transatlantic link vital for security and prosperity in Europe. As an active member, Türkiye contributes fundamentally to the principle of “the indivisibility of security” within NATO. As such, we are among the top 5 contributors to NATO operations and top 8 contributors to the Alliance’s budget. Due to her significant geo-political location, Türkiye often finds herself in increased unpredictabilities, crises, and conflicts posing danger to peace and stability, like the war in Ukraine, yet she adamantly and consistently continues to work and mediate to end the war towards the establishment of peace.
Likewise, Türkiye’s efforts are extended to another nearby region for the establishment of a lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East as well as the evolution of this geography into a stable and prosperous region. Within this context, Türkiye has not only developed bilateral relations in the region but also took initiatives for the creation of an atmosphere conducive to regional cooperation. On the recent situation in the Gaza Strip, Türkiye tries to contribute to every effort towards de-escalation of the situation.
Türkiye considers the Israeli-Palestinian issue, at this critical juncture, a matter of every human being with conscience. Thus, a resolution to the issue can only be addressed by a formula of just and lasting settlement through the establishment of a sovereign, independent, and contiguous State of Palestine on the basis of 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with the State of Israel.
The membership process to the EU has been a long and threadlike path for Türkiye since she was officially approved as the candidate country at the Helsinki Summit of 1999. There have been ups and downs during the negotiation process, which started in 2005. Since then, the goal has not been achieved by both sides. However, Türkiye still considers EU membership as one of its foreign policy priorities and, despite all challenges and standstills, tries to revitalize the process under the positive agenda in areas such as climate, agriculture, migration and security, health, science, research, technology, and innovation.
On the other hand, the Russia-Ukraine war has once again underlined the importance of Türkiye’s membership for the future of the EU. Türkiye's mediation role and its interventions in critical issues such as the grain agreement and the prisoner swap deal, which led to positive and concrete results, have both won the appreciation of the international community and confirmed its critical role in regional and global challenges.
Thus, recent developments in Türkiye-EU relations are clear evidence that the current geopolitical conjuncture offers an important window of opportunity for the advancement of relations.
The Journey Goes On
The centennial-long journey was not an easy one. Türkiye has faced numerous trials and difficulties, yet has always emerged stronger and more determined than ever. We are committed to further upholding the principles that guided us in the course of the last 100 years, namely democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Throughout this journey, Türkiye has fostered deep-rooted and multi-faceted relations with countries across the globe, among which Finland has a particular place. Our diplomatic ties and cooperation have always been solid and growing further for many years. Türkiye’s relationship with Finland is built on mutual respect and commitment to promoting peace and prosperity in the international arena and now being allies under the NATO umbrella. Our countries also co-chair the Group of Friends of Mediation within the UN since 2010 for the purpose of increasing the UN’s efficiency and capacity in peace building.
Increasing economic ties and establishment of reciprocal friendship groups in the parliaments after elections of 2023 in both countries are other positive significant developments. Cultural and educational exchanges have always played a crucial role in enhancing the understanding and friendship between the two countries. There is a great potential for Türkiye and Finland to further appreciate each other's richness of culture, nature, and history. These interactions would contribute to a deeper and lasting understanding between our two countries.
“Dost Acı Günde Belli Olur / A Friend is Known in Times of Pain”
Finland, among many other countries all around the world, is one of the first reaching helping hands to the victims of the devastating earthquake centered in Kahramanmaraş, and spread its heavy disruptive effect over nine provinces in the southeast of Türkiye. In the wake of the disaster, the affinity of the Finnish people towards the victims was noteworthy. This compassion was substantiated in the Finnish Government’s decision to send a team of experts as well as comprehensive “humanitarian assistance”. The Turkish people will remain grateful to Finland and the friendly Finnish people for that.
The centennial of the Turkish Republic is not merely a celebration of the past; it is also the beginning of a new journey towards the future. In other words; we wish to take one step further and turn this important anniversary into the beginning of a brand-new vision that will leave its mark on the next century. “The Century of Türkiye” vision of H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Türkiye, is the resolution to make the Turkish nation’s century-old dreams come true and advance towards a better future. We look forward to a century of continued cooperation, partnership, peace, and progress. Let us endeavor together to create a future where the world is a more prosperous place, leaving no one behind.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Finland