Visit by Dr. Abdullah Gul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey
(Summary and Evaluation)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, Dr. Abdullah Gul, visited Japan from December 16 to 21 at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. During his stay, Foreign Minister Gul held meetings with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi and other government officials. The following is a summary and evaluation of his visit.
(1) This occasion of the visit to Japan by a Foreign Minister of Turkey was the first in three and a half years, since April 2000. His visit symbolizes the expanding exchanges between the two countries in recent years since the establishment of the new Turkish administration as a result of a general election in November 2002. These visits have been at various levels, including those of the Imperial Family of Japan, Ministers, Diet members and others (Foreign Minister Gul had served as Prime Minister of Turkey from the inauguration of the current administration by Justice and Development Party (November 2002) until March 2003). This visit by Foreign Minister Gul, who is also the honorary co-president of the "2003 Year of Turkey in Japan," has contributed to the renewed advancement of the bilateral relations between Japan and Turkey in the future.
(2) In his meeting with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, a frank exchanges of opinion took place on the issue of the reconstruction of Iraq, the pressing issue for the international community. With regard to the dispatch of Self-Defense Force (SDF) personnel to Iraq, Japan received remarks from Turkey that it is ready to provide necessary facilities and assistance. The Turkish side expressed its enthusiasm in cooperating with Japan on the assistance for the reconstruction of Iraq, including coordination between private enterprises of Japan and Turkey.
(3) In addition, a wide range of opinion was exchanged on various issues including Turkey's accession to the European Union (EU), and the situations in Cyprus and in the Central Asia and the Caucasus.
2. Summary of Major Meetings
(1) Courtesy Call on Prime Minister Koizumi
(i) Bilateral Relations
Foreign Minister Gul conveyed to Prime Minister Koizumi congratulatory words on his reelection from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. He also expressed his condolences on the murder of the two Japanese diplomats in Iraq. Foreign Minister Gul stated the wish of Prime Minister Erdogan to visit Japan and also invited Prime Minister Koizumi to visit Turkey. Furthermore, he mentioned his anticipation that Japanese tourists to Turkey would increase and that Japanese investment into Turkey would expand.
At the beginning of his response, Prime Minister Koizumi expressed his condolences on the bombings in Istanbul. Furthermore, he noted his intention to continue Japan-Turkish cooperation in the area of earthquake disaster countermeasures.
(ii) Iraqi issue
Upon explaining the active humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Iraq that Turkey conducts, Foreign Minister Gul stated his intention to explore the possibility of coordination between Japan and Turkey for the reconstruction assistance to Iraq at the private sector level. Regarding the situation in Iraq, he showed the recognition that prompt advancement of the current democratization process is important and stated that Turkey maintains a close relationship with the Iraqi Governing Council. Furthermore, Foreign Minister Gul stated that Turkey welcomes the dispatch of SDF personnel to Iraq and will fully cooperate if necessary.
Prime Minister Koizumi explained the decision on the dispatch of SDF personnel and noted the importance of cooperation of the international community for the stabilization of Iraq.
(2) Meeting with Foreign Minister Kawaguchi
(i) Bilateral Relations
Foreign Minister Gul expressed his condolences on the murder of the two Japanese diplomats in Iraq. He also expressed his gratitude for the assistance Japan provided following the major earthquakes in Turkey in 1999. Furthermore, he stated his anticipation for an increase in Japanese tourists to Turkey as well as Turkish exports to Japan and expansion of Japanese investment into Turkey through the "2003 Year of Turkey in Japan." Furthermore, he invited Foreign Minister Kawaguchi to visit Turkey.
In response, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi expressed her condolences on the bombings in Istanbul. She also expressed her gratitude for the invitation to Turkey.
(ii) Iraqi issue
Foreign Minister Gul showed the recognition that prompt advancement of the current democratization process is important and that maintaining territorial integrity of Iraq is necessary. He also stated that Turkey is actively conducting humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Iraq and anticipates, in this regard, advancing cooperation with Japan, including at the private sector level. Furthermore, with regard to the dispatch of SDF personnel to Iraq, he stated that Turkey is ready to provide necessary facilities and assistance.
In response, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi explained the Japanese reconstruction assistance to Iraq and expressed her gratitude for the announcement that Turkey is ready to provide necessary facilities and assistance to the SDF personnel dispatched to Iraq.
(iii) International Terrorism Countermeasures
Foreign Minister Kawaguchi stated that Japan seeks to advance its cooperation with Turkey in the international efforts to fight against terrorism. In response, Foreign Minister Gul noted that Turkey seeks to advance its cooperation with Japan on the issue of terrorism through information exchanges.
(iv) Other International Situations
Foreign Minister Gul remarked on the current situation of the issue of Turkey's accession to the EU. He explained about various reforms that the government of Turkey is conducting. He also talked about the issues of Cyprus. Furthermore, he showed the recognition that integrating the countries of the Caucasus into the international system is important.
In response, Foreign Minister Kawaguchi stated that the EU expansion will contribute to the stability of the European region and expressed her support for the Turkish reforms. She further noted the importance of the advancement of democratization and market economy in the Central Asian countries.
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