Turkey and Romania are friends and strategic partners,resolute to expanding and diversifying their relationship. Attending to issues that range from politics, economics, public diplomacy, and consular issues to relations with the host government, Osman Koray Ertaș, a career diplomat, has been Ambassador of Turkey to Romania for the last two years.
European Times: What is the economic potential between the two countries?
Osman Koray Ertaș: Although we have an intense bilateral cooperation in many fields, my focus has been on improving relations specifically in the areas of trade, security, and culture. After the EU, Turkey is the largest trading partner of Romania, with an annual volume of about US$5 billion. We had a decrease in trade volume from US$6.4 billion in 2014 to US$5.5 billion in 2015, but this was due to a number of factors related to the larger systemic issues. We have several on-going projects in Romania and are always open to new opportunities to strengthen the existing ties.Romania is an attractive destination for Turkish investors and Turkey itself has the advantage of geographical proximity to a large market encompassing the Middle East, Iran, Russia, and Europe. I have been here for over two years and, in addition to larger, well-established enterprises, I have also witnessed many newer SMEs coming by and creating jobs here. Companies like Arctic, Kanal-D, Eti, Kastamonu Entegre, Yildiz Entegre, Eregli, Glasscorp, Martur, Rulmenti, Garanti Bank, or Credit Europe Bank are just a few such names that have established their presence in the Romanian market.
European Times: Besides trade and the large number of Turkish companies active in Romania, what is your message regarding the tourism potential in the two countries?
Osman Koray Ertaș: Romania and Turkey treasure their strong bilateral ties. Although the attempted coup affected the image of my homeland, it took us less than one day to restore peace and calm. Our cities are safe like any other in Europe, and we are working hard to strike a fair balance between personal freedoms and national security. This year, Istanbul is among the eight most visited capitals worldwide and third in Europe. Romania and Turkey’s friendship is also reflected in the warm cultural ties, and tourism has been a wonderful avenue to enjoy new experiences. In addition to Antalya Riviera, which is very well known to our Romanian friends, the Black Sea region and its scenic shores, the historical sites of Cappadocia in Central Anatolia, Dardanelles, Troy, Bursa or the long Aegean coastal region offer a wide range of choices, from small, modest villages to luxury resorts.
Romania is also driven to promote its wonderful potential abroad. Many foreign visitors rarely venture outside Bucharest, which is a pity, since there are many other places worth exploring. And the hospitality of Romanian people makes every visit a memorable experience. In a broader context, Romania has a sizeable growth potential, a high-skilled talent pool and a viable economic stability.