By Nazli Yuzbasioglu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey will continue to implement an entrepreneurial and humanitarian foreign policy in the field and at the table in 2021, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saturday.
Cavusoglu comments came during a presentation on the ministry's budget and structure as well as foreign policy goals and priorities at the Plan and Budget Commission of Parliament.
Turkey allocated more than 5.7 billion Turkish lira (more than $738 million) for central and abroad representations of the ministry to carry out duties and responsibilities.
A budget of 787 million lira is allocated for the EU Presidency, including 698 million for participation in the National Agency and European Union (EU) programs and 42 million for the Turkish Accreditation Agency, according to the presentation said.
Below are important headlines from Cavusoglu’s presentation.
- Expansion of diplomatic representation network
Turkey will continue to strengthen the institutional capacity of the ministry in line with requirements of its foreign policy.
The number of foreign missions in Turkey was 163 in 2002. Now, the country has 248 representatives, including 142 embassies, 13 permanent representations and 91 consulates general and consulates spying and a trade office. The country aims to reach 275 representatives abroad soon.
The number of foreign representative offices operating in Turkey is also increasing as a result of interest shown to Turkey. In 2002, there were 166 foreign representatives in Turkey. Now, the number is 289.
The intense work by central and abroad representatives will continue next year to ensure that nearly 7 million citizens living abroad, more than 5.5 million in Western European countries, can receive uninterrupted consular service.
The Consular Call Center of the Foreign Ministry served 24 hours a day, seven days a week in Turkish and five foreign languages.
The ministry also created a database to track attacks motivated by discrimination, xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia against Turkish expats. The ministry will prepare annual reports on the developments in those matters, especially in the West and will continue to closely monitor legal processes regarding crimes.
-Fighting pandemic in the context of global solidarity
Turkey, in the struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic which negatively influenced not only health but the economy and social life, supported its nationals facing hardship through 248 representations in foreign countries.
By conducting evacuation operations, the biggest in its history, Turkey brought back more than 100,000 citizens from 141 countries. Upon request for help from foreign countries, Turkey supported the evacuation of 37,682 foreigners from 91 countries between March and June.
Turkey distinguished itself in medical aid to the world as well. Demands from 156 countries were met in the form of donations or purchases.
-Developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus issue, relations with NATO, US and the EU
Pressing ahead with the seismic surveys and drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, and registering the maritime jurisdiction treaty with Libya to the UN, Turkey, having the longest coastal line, will continue to protect its legitimate rights and interests in maritime areas of the Eastern Mediterranean, which is derived from international law.
Turkey also continues its efforts in finding a permanent resolution to the Cyprus issue, and unjust restrictions imposed on Cypriot Turks to be ended. Turkey emphasizes that Turkey will not sit at the table only to negotiate, and it is high time to talk about a two-state resolution based on sovereign equality.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration in the region and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara has sent several drill ships and seismic research vessels in recent weeks to explore for energy on its continental shelf, asserting its rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiation.
Turkey is among the first eight most contributing countries to NATO operations and missions.
There are still problems hampering the foundations of Turkish-US relations, including the fact that Washington presents free movement space for the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and does not end its engagement with the YPG/PKK terror group. Nevertheless, Turkey, paying regard to long-established relations, declares it wants to continue its approach that two countries should act in coordination and consultation regarding regional and global developments with the new American administration as well.
For Turkey, which is among the founding members of the Council of Europe and the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), EU membership constitutes a strategic goal. Turkey is committed to the completion of membership negotiations but voices its expectation that the EU should see the value Turkey would add to the bloc and political obstacles that hinder the relationship be removed.
- War on terror will continue resolutely
Turkey pursues its efforts in the diplomatic domain as well to remove the menace coming from terror groups.
While security forces limit the operational capacity of the YPG/PKK terror group with successful operations, Foreign Ministry focuses on prevention of the group’s recruitment, lobbying, financing and suppressing its organization in foreign countries.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.
Continuing its war against Daesh/ISIS and Al-Qaeda terror organizations, Turkey plays an essential role in preventing the radical terror groups’ activities and eliminating the threats originated from foreign terrorists.
In 2013, Turkey became one of the first countries to declare Daesh/ISIS a terror group.
The country has since been attacked by the extremist organization multiple times. At least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb attacks and four armed attacks have killed 315 people and injured hundreds more.
In response, Turkey launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad to head off further attacks.
Furthermore, the Foreign Ministry works with other related state institutions to close or transfer schools abroad, which are affiliated with the FETO terror group and limiting the freedom of movement of FETO affiliated individuals. To this day, as part of the anti-FETO struggle in 40 countries, operations of FETO affiliated schools or language courses were wholly or
partially terminated. In 20 countries, schools were taken over by the Turkish Maarif Foundation (TMV). TMV also opened schools in 24 new countries.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in which 251 people were martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Turkey also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
- Syrians under temporary protection and refugee crisis
Turkey is distinguished in hosting the most refugees in the world and presenting opportunities to Syrians under temporary protection.
As a result of Turkey’s anti-terror operations in northern Syria that eliminated terror threats, more than 411,000 Syrians returned home from Turkey, which hosts an excess of 3.6 million Syrian refugees.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and displaced in Syria since 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters and started a long drawn out persecution of Syrian citizens.
According to the UN estimates, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced in Syria, which has been ravaged by the civil war.
Being under heavy pressure of immigration because of its geographical location, Turkey expects the EU to fulfill the March 18, 2016, EU-Turkey Statement and Action obligation.
Turkey questions Greece’s human violations such as push-back and mistreatment of the refugees on international platforms.
- Policies of opening and partnership will continue
In the context of policies of opening and partnership, Turkey will continue to share its experience, political, social and cultural heritage and capabilities and resources with countries on different continents.
Turkey pursues the “Africa Partnership Policy” since 2013. Trade volume between Turkey and Africa rose $26.2 billion in 2019 from $5.4 billion in 2003.
As part of Turkey’s opening in Latin America and Caribbean regions, the number of embassies rose to 17 from six in 2010. Similarly, the number of embassies and general consulates of the region’s countries grew to 15 and six, respectively.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar and Ahmet Gencturk