Ambassador of Turkey to Brunei Darussalam Prof Dr Hamit Ersoy
Today marks the 37th anniversary of the establishment of the first diplomatic ties between Turkey and Brunei Darussalam.
The Turkish Cabinet made the decision two days before Brunei’s Independence Day and notified the Sultanate’s authorities and international community one day before the declaration of independence, making Turkey one of the first states to officially recognise Brunei.
Although the first contact of Turkish and Malay people dates back to the Ottoman Empire era in the 16th Century, the diplomatic relations between the modern states of Turkey and Brunei Darussalam were established for the first time on June 27, 1984 at ambassadorial level after Brunei’s independence. Kuala Lumpur Embassy of Turkey was accredited to Brunei Darussalam while Amman Embassy of Brunei Darussalam was accredited to Turkey.
In 2012, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam visited Turkey to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then in his capacity as prime minister.
His Majesty’s visit to Turkey was followed by a return visit by President Erdoğan to the Sultanate in the same year. Lastly, the visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to Brunei Darussalam on November 6-7, 2018 was an important development in terms of demonstrating the importance Turkey attaches to the region in general and to Brunei Darussalam in particular.
The Agreement on Mutual Abolition of Visas, which was signed during His Majesty’s visit to Turkey in 2012, constituted an important milestone for opening a gateway for well-established political, economic and cultural relations.
Since neither country had diplomatic missions in the other, the highest priority in developing bilateral relations was the opening of embassies in each other’s capital. Turkey and Brunei Darussalam finally opened embassies in their respective capitals in 2013 and ensured their regular diplomatic contacts on a permanent basis.
This sincere rapprochement by the heads of states led to a boosting of relations between two brotherly communities which are geographically distant but have always been very close in the hearts and minds of one another. Today the two countries have a very positive agenda with excellent relations and continue to enjoy successful cooperation within international organisations, particularly in the United Nations (UN), Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), ASEAN and their respective organisations specialised in various fields.
After the said high level visits in 2012 and 2018, relations between the two countries have steadily strengthened and the social interaction between the two nations has increased.
Common religious and cultural values and customs of the two countries played an important role in the strengthening of people-to-people relations. Especially after the abolition of visas, Turkey started to host more Bruneian tourists, particularly in Istanbul and Cappadocia, every year and we experienced a considerable increase in trade volume between two countries ever since.
An important dimension of relations between the two countries is ASEAN itself. Turkey commends the growing global profile of ASEAN in global affairs and Brunei Darussalam’s increasing importance and active role in ASEAN. Stretching as a bridge between Europe and Asia, Turkey offers numerous advantages for ASEAN’s outreach to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As a sectoral dialogue partner, Turkey’s objective is to become a full dialogue partner at ASEAN and have more active and result-oriented engagements with the group.
Turkey is grateful for Brunei Darussalam’s continuing support within ASEAN. The mere presence of 10 Turkish embassies in capital cities of each and every ASEAN member state indicates the importance Turkey attaches to the region.
With the purpose of reenergising and solidifying relations with Asia, Turkey launched a new initiative called ‘Asia Anew’. With the directive of the President Erdoğan, the Asia Anew initiative is pioneering Turkey’s recently adopted Asia perspective. ASEAN is one of the most important aspects of this initiative.
Turkey is proud of its Asian roots originated from its ancestral home, Central Asia, and carries the legacy of Seljukis and Ottoman Empire in its historical continuity. With the economic breakthroughs it has experienced in the last decades under the strong leadership of President Erdoğan and thanks to its well-established state tradition, military might, multidimensional, proactive and rhythmic diplomacy, Turkey has become a decisive regional power and a global actor capable of pursuing a proactive, enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy and taking initiatives for the global justice and equality.
Turkey remains the biggest advocate of Palestinians in their just cause, continues to be the largest humanitarian donors in the world and ranked as the number one in the world aid index, accounting for 26 per cent of the global aid in 2019 alone.
Turkey, as the second largest military force in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and an active and engaged member of G-20, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), OIC and the Council of Europe, with its dynamic population and resilient economy, is committed to further enhance bilateral relations with Brunei Darussalam and other member states of ASEAN based on mutual respect and a win-win approach.
We are passing through a global transformation towards the age of technology. Turkey makes significant investments in future technologies in many fields such as high-tech defence industry, e-commerce, renewable energy and space exploration.
Turkey ranks 12th in the world and 5th in Europe in terms of installed renewable energy capacity and recently declared a National Space Programme. This week the Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency approved the emergency use of TURCOVAC, domestically developed inactivated COVID-19 vaccine. With this development Turkey has become one of the nine countries producing its own COVID-19 vaccine. The same week we witnessed the launch of Turkey’s new telecommunication satellite Turksat 5B, which is developed for military and commercial purposes, Turkey’s ninth satellite in space. Once it is operational in five months, it will increase Turkey’s Ka-Band capacity 15 times more. More promising news came from TOGG, Turkey’s first electric vehicle producer, that countdown has begun for mass production.
Turkey is ready to share its experience with all brotherly countries like Brunei Darussalam. We are looking forward to contributing to the efforts of Brunei Darussalam in achieving innovation, technological development, food supply security and renewable energy investments. We are ready to enhance the links between Turkish and Bruneian entrepreneurs and carry our relations to new heights in a result-oriented manner. Close cultural ties between the two countries and sincere friendship between the leaders stand out as the most important assets that are paving the way for this close cooperation.
As uncertainties caused by COVID-19 pandemic ease, the current trade volume between Turkey and Brunei Darussalam must be seen as an opportunity and potential to develop it much further in the years to come. The geographical distance between the two countries shouldn’t be seen as an obstacle as modern transportation has reduced the importance of distances in today’s world.
We believe that there is much room for further enhancement of political, economic, socio-cultural relations. We are aware of the opportunities that Brunei Darussalam offers for foreign investors. In this respect, we will continue to support and enhance the ties between Turkish and Bruneian entrepreneurs encourage them for joint ventures and FDI. We want to institutionalise the existing cooperation between two states with concluding cooperation agreements in various fields and establish new mechanisms that will increase investments and trade volume between the two countries. The future of the Brunei Darussalam-Turkey relations is bound to become brighter than today.