Remarks by Ambassador Ahmet Akif Oktay at the IAMES-SAM Joint Seminar

Ahmet Akif Oktay 05.04.2013


Your Excellencies Ambassadors and Colleagues,
Distinguished Speakers and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you and thank you for joining us today.
This year we are observing the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Vietnam. Today’s seminar is the first public event we are holding to mark this occasion. At the outset, I want to express my deep appreciation and thanks to the Institute for Africa and Middle East Studies in Hanoi and the Center for Strategic Research in Ankara, for their collaboration in organizing this event.
In this seminar, the key foreign policy orientations and priorities of both countries, as well as prospects for deepening bilateral cooperation, will be elaborated by experts from both sides. But it is also intended to be an interactive forum. So we would be more than pleased to receive your feedback during the discussions that will follow the statements.
When the main principles of the respective foreign policies of Turkey and Vietnam are compared, major points of convergence can be easily identified. One of them is their resolute stance regarding the peaceful settlement of disputes through diplomacy, dialogue and negotiations and on the basis of international law and legitimacy. Another is the importance Turkey and Vietnam ascribe to multilateralism and inclusiveness in addressing issues of global concern. Accordingly, both countries have begun to play much more active roles in international organizations over the recent years.
These shared characteristics are underpinned by two very simple facts; 1) global problems from financial meltdowns to climate change are beginning to take a much heavier toll on more and more countries, and 2) it is no longer possible to cope with such challenges without securing the meaningful cooperation and participation of each and every country.
At the regional level, Turkey and Vietnam are vigorously promoting stability, economic integration and development. Vietnam’s own economic achievements in the post- Doi Moi period, which elevated her into the ranks of middle income countries, have become a source of inspiration for many other nations. The ongoing industrialization of Vietnam is creating more prosperity not only at home, but in neighboring and other countries through increased trade and investment flows.
Despite the fluctuations in the global economy, Turkey has also been able to achieve consistently high economic growth rates, especially over the last decade. This enabled Turkey to substantially increase her international development and reconstruction assistance, with a particular focus on those countries suffering from the dire consequences of internal conflicts or wars. On many platforms ranging from the United Nations to G-20, Turkey continues to be a strong voice for the needs and expectations of the developing world. Along with Vietnam, Turkey also supports and encourages higher levels of South-South cooperation.
Clearly, Turkey and Vietnam are playing constructive and mutually reinforcing roles in today’s volatile international environment, which is characterized by various types of risks as well as new possibilities for multilateral cooperation. This proactive diplomacy, in turn, has been made possible by sound leadership, political stability and, as I mentioned, a robust economic performance in both countries, leading to a growing capability and willingness to assume new international responsibilities.
Distinguished Guests,
In the 21st century, the global agenda is increasingly being shaped by Asia, not just economically, but also politically, culturally and intellectually. With the bulk of her landmass lying in Asia, Turkey is an integral part of Asia’s past, present and future. Our Asian policy is motivated by the vision of achieving comprehensive peace, security, good-neighborly relations and economic prosperity in all corners of Asia. As the current Chairman of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), and as a consistent supporter of many other intra-Asian initiatives, Turkey has been making systematic efforts to promote multilateral trust, cooperation and development on the continent.
As many of you already know, Turkey has also been forging closer ties with Southeast Asia, and its flagship cooperation mechanism, ASEAN, for a number of years. It is one of our top priorities to take our partnership with ASEAN and its members to a higher level. The recent decision of the Turkish Government to open new Embassies in Myanmar, Cambodia and Brunei Darussalam is the latest step in that direction.
In her quest for closer engagement with ASEAN, Turkey has received valuable support from Vietnam. Turkey’s accession to ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation during Vietnam’s Presidency of the organization in 2010 is still fresh in memories. For her part, Turkey gave strong backing to Vietnam’s bid to join CICA in the same year.
This solidarity goes hand in hand with the considerable progress that was recorded in our bilateral relations over the recent years. We are not tapping our cooperation potential to the fullest yet, as we will discuss later on, but we are moving in the right direction. In that respect, this seminar provides a convenient platform to raise innovative ideas and suggestions on ways of further deepening this partnership. It goes without saying that the main beneficiaries of such an informed debate will be the decision-makers and stakeholders on both sides.
Before concluding, I would like to say a few words about the distinguished speakers from Vietnam and Turkey, without whose presence this event would not have been possible. First of all, I want to thank Professor Bülent Aras, head of the Turkish academic delegation, for making this a truly memorable event by coming to Hanoi on this occasion. Professor Aras is a former faculty member of the İstanbul Technical University. At the moment, he holds three separate but interrelated job titles at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, in addition to his many other responsibilities. He is the Chairman of the Ministry’s Strategic Research Center, the President of the Diplomatic Academy and also an Academic Advisor to Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey. In short, he is in the best position to explain Turkey’s foreign policy principles and goals and we certainly appreciate his participation.
Likewise, I wish to thank Associate Professor Selçuk Çolakoğlu from the Faculty of Political Science of the Yıldırım Beyazıt University in Ankara, who is one of our prominent experts on Asia and also an advisor at the Center for Strategic Research, and Dr. Çağdaş Üngör-Sunar, who is a lecturer at the Political Science and International Relations Department of the Marmara University in İstanbul, for their valuable contributions to this seminar.
My thanks and appreciation also go to Professor Vo Khanh Vinh, Vice President of the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences, and Professor Bui Nhat Quang, Director-General of IAMES, as well as members of his team for their indispensable role in the organization of this seminar. After conducting a research project on Turkey between 2011 and 2012, Professor Quang produced the first academic publication by a Vietnamese scholar on Turkey and Turkish-Vietnamese relations, which was recently released in the Vietnamese language. Preparations are under way to publish it in English as well.
Last but not least, this event is further enriched by the participation of Professor Duong Phu Hiep, Former Secretary-General of the Central Council for Theory of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Professor Nguyen Duy Dung, Director-General of the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies and Professor Do Duc Dinh, Senior Researcher of the Institute for Africa and Middle East Studies. I thank each of them for agreeing to share their assessments with us.
I hope that this seminar will be beneficial to all the participants here, representing a broad cross-section of the official, academic and private Vietnamese institutions as well as the diplomatic community in Hanoi. On that note, I wish you lively and productive deliberations.
Thank you.

Monday - Friday

09.00 - 18.00

9.30 - 12.00
2/2/2011 2/5/2011