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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

President starts visit to Turkey

President Bronislaw Komorowski will start a two-day official visit to Turkey on Wednesday. The main topics of talks with top Turkish authorities will be the growing Russian-Ukrainian crisis in Crimea, the autumn NATO summit and economic cooperation.


Initially the main purpose of Komorowski's visit to Turkey was the launching of official celebrations of the 600th anniversary of Polish-Turkish diplomatic relations. However, in view of the escalating conflict on the Crimean Peninsula the talks will be dominated by the developments in Ukraine.


Presidential Minister Jaromir Sokolowski has said that the Polish president will discuss prospects for the coming out of the crisis in Ukraine with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Speaker of Parliament Cemil Cicek.


Minister Sokolowski added that while in Turkey Komorowski will discuss security policy in the context of the upcoming September NATO Summit in Wales. "Poland and Turkey represent a similar position with regard to collective defence planning and defence," he stressed.

According to Sokolowski Komorowski's visit to Ankara and Istanbul will be closely linked with this year's 600th anniversary of establishing Polish-Turkish diplomatic relations. "Indeed, the initial cause for the president's official visit to Turkey was to inaugurate the celebrations..... This year also marks the 315th anniversary of uninterrupted peace between Poland and Turkey," said the presidential minister.


"We would very much want for this anniversary to be not only an occasion to recall history but also to be a good opportunity to build the foundations of future development of relations and to deepen the strategic partnership connecting Poland and Turkey since 2009," said Minister Sokolowski.


Sokolowski noting Turkey's "unquestionable economic success," over recent years stressed that an important element of President Komorowski's visit will be a Polish-Turkish economic forum in Istanbul to be attended by the two presidents on Thursday.


The forum is to be attended by nearly 150 companies. "We hope for the revival of bilateral trade contacts and an increase of direct investment. Mutual turnover amounted to USD 5.0 billion in 2013 with a visible surplus of Poland's exports. We would also like to boost cooperation of Polish and Turkish companies in third markets, mainly in the Caucasus and the Middle East," the minister explained.

According Sokolowski cultural cooperation is another important element of Polish-Turkish partnership. "This year's 600th anniversary will also be an excellent opportunity to promote Poland in Turkey and initiate sustainable cooperation between Polish and Turkish cultural institutions. According to the Ministry of Culture, Poland will present more than 100 cultural projects in Turkey, in 2014..."

Minister Sokolowski also informed that during the visit sides will sign a protocol on cooperation between Polish and Turkish public media.


The history of Polish diplomatic relations with Turkey dates back to 1414. According to Jan Dlugosz "Chronicles" four years after the Polish-Lithuanian victorious Battle of Grunwald (1410) against the Teutonic Knights, Sultan Celebi Mehmed I received at his court in Bursa (then the capital of the empire) first Polish diplomatic mission. In the collective memory of Poles Turkey is a country which never recognised the Polish partitions in the 18th century.


During World War II, the Polish Embassy in Ankara operated continuously with Turkish authorities providing assistance to refugees from Polish. Turkey also helped in the evacuation of the Poland's gold reserves. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stresses that for 600 years the two countries were bound by not only strong political ties, but also close commercial and cultural relations. (PAP)


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