Wed, 04 October 2023
October 29 officially marks 100 years since the declaration of the Republic of Türkiye. To commemorate the occasion, Bahrain This Month spoke to Turkish Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, HE Esin Çakıl, about her experiences in the Kingdom so far and the current state of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Your Excellency, what are your thoughts about Bahrain and its lifestyle?
Like Türkiye, Bahrain is historically a multi-national, multi-religious country that has a rich mosaic of cultural diversity and encourages the value of tolerance in Bahrain and in the international fora as well.
Being a female ambassador in Bahrain, I would also like to emphasise and praise the Kingdom’s accomplishments on women’s rights. I believe Bahrain is an excellent model, especially for the wider region.
How would you describe the current state of bilateral relations between Türkiye and Bahrain?
On April 12 this year, we celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Türkiye and Bahrain. Over the past 50 years, the relationship between our two countries has been significantly improved not only in the political field but also in the fields of trade, investment, health, defence, education, tourism and culture. I sincerely believe that the Türkiye-Bahrain relationship will continue to thrive over the next 50 years and beyond.
What are the current trade figures between the two nations?
According to the data of the Turkish Statistical Institute, our trade volume in 2022 reached USD883.8m, with a 66 percent increase being a new record. Türkiye’s exports to Bahrain in 2022 were USD215m, and the value of imports was recorded as USD669.1m.
How does Türkiye collaborate with the Bahraini government and community?
In the field of education, we have a strong cooperation. The presence of Turkish academicians in respected Bahraini universities, the excellent works of the Turkish Language Centre, the Yunus Emre Institute in the University of Bahrain, the Türkiye Scholarships awarded to Bahraini students and the high interest of Bahraini youth in Turkish universities all combine to create an outstanding relationship.
The establishment of the Oncology Centre in the King Hamad University Hospital and the increasing number of Bahraini citizens who choose Türkiye to have medical treatment are promising aspects of bilateral cooperation in the healthcare sector.
As the Embassy, we support the connection between Turkish and Bahraini youngsters. For instance, for two years we have facilitated a youth exchange programme, Unlimited Youth, between Denizli Youth Centre and the Good Word Society.
In 2022, we hosted more than 98,000 Bahrainis in our country and for the last two summer seasons, Türkiye was the primary tourism destination of Bahrainis.
We believe that having the opportunity to experience culture is one the most important aspects to building a strong and long-lasting friendship between countries. As the Ambassador of Türkiye, I am grateful for the sympathy and interest of Bahraini people towards Türkiye and that the people of Bahrain’s knowledge about the history and culture of Türkiye opens diverse areas of cooperation between the two countries.
Can you highlight any recent joint projects that have had a significant impact on bilateral relations?
In the last 20 years, seven major projects worth USD1.1b have been undertaken by Turkish contractors, including the extension of the Bahrain International Airport by TAV and the ALBA Line 6 expansion project by GAMA. We are proud that they have been successful in delivering their promises in a timely manner, taking part in the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision.
Recently, the Turkish GETAS Company signed an agreement with the Ministry of EWA which foresees a USD60b investment to Bahrain’s renewable energy sector, an area we believe holds great potential.
What opportunities do you see for future collaboration?
We have great experience in agriculture, industrial production, construction and healthcare tourism, in which Turkish expertise should be shared with Bahrain.
The potential is immense, with the help of increasing B2B contacts, we aim to improve our economic ties and cooperation in fields of trade and investment.
Are there any specific initiatives or agreements in place to strengthen the economic ties between Türkiye and Bahrain?
Currently, Türkiye and Bahrain have several agreements ranging from economic, industrial and technical cooperation to customs and mutual encouragement and protection of investments. The ongoing negotiations of the Joint Economic Committee also cover all areas of economic cooperation between Türkiye and Bahrain.
Both countries have signed and ratified the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Trade Preferential Agreements which is one of the most important projects of the Economic and Commercial Cooperation” (COMCEC) to foster intra-OIC trade.
Furthermore, supporting the promotional activities of Turkish companies and exporters associations including participation in trade fairs to be held in Bahrain, and organisation of trade/buyer delegations that facilitate trade between Türkiye and Bahrain benefit both countries’ private sector stakeholders.
From October 10 to October 13, a general trade delegation from Türkiye will visit Bahrain with a focus on food, construction, personal care, furniture, household items, machinery and spare parts, textile, telecommunications, education and consulting in order to explore business opportunities and collaboration.
How does Türkiye view the strategic importance of Bahrain in the region?
Türkiye does not see the stability and security of the Gulf region as separate from its own stability and security. As the hosting country of an international coalition, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) which Türkiye is an active member of, Bahrain’s contribution to the joint efforts to preserve the safety of international maritime navigation and secure international trade and energy corridors is essential.
Can you please tell us about the involvement of Bahrain during the natural calamity that took place in Türkiye earlier this year?
Under the leadership of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, our solid friendship demonstrated itself during one of the biggest natural disasters of the century that hit Türkiye on February 6.
The Sawaed Al-Gaith search and rescue team’s memorable efforts, urgent humanitarian assistance provided by the Royal Humanitarian Foundation and the Bahrain Defence Force, and volunteer support given by the citizens and residents of Bahrain will be remembered forever.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Turkish citizens residing in Bahrain on the 100th anniversary of our Republic. I would like to thank them all for representing Türkiye adequately by exerting their efforts in the best manner, in line with the values of Türkiye.
In the first century of Türkiye, guided by our enduring objective to achieve “Peace at Home, Peace in the World” as set out by the founder of our Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Turkish nation has been built as a modern, democratic and prosperous country which dedicated itself to work for a peaceful, secure and just world for benefits of the all.
As laid out by our President, HE Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish nation will crown the second century of the Republic with the Century of Türkiye which is the comprehensive roadmap that will raise Türkiye above the level of contemporary civilisations.