Leaving behind two complete years as Ambassador of Turkey to Nepal, I believe it is my primary duty to share with the people of Nepal the road taken in bilateral ties between our countries during this period.
As is well known, Turkey and Nepal are two friendly nations that are thousands of kilometres apart. Distances are irrelevant today, and Turkish Airlines makes Turkey the gateway of Nepal to the West. Daily flights from Kathmandu to Istanbul carry Nepalese to their loved ones while bringing tourists to this beautiful land in the Himalayas. On return, a very comfortable flight of six hours from Kathmandu takes travellers first to the newly inaugurated airport of Istanbul, which was built by Turkish and Nepali labour to accommodate 200 million passengers per year.
Turkish Airlines was also the first international carrier which brought humanitarian assistance to Nepal after the devastating earthquake of 2015. In the international conference organised to heal the wounds of Nepal, Turkey pledged an assistance of US$ 2 million.
Three years ago, on July 15, 2016, the democracy of Turkey was targeted by Fetullahist Terrorist Organisation, or FETO, orchestrated from abroad, where its leader has been provided shelter by the US since 1999. Under his instructions, the terrorists in military uniform bombed the parliament, army barracks and police headquarters while a wing tried to abduct the democratically-elected president of the country and family members.
The Turkish people rushed into the streets to stop the tanks driven by the terrorists over them. Next Monday, the Turkish nation will remember the 251 civilians killed by the terrorists in less than 12 hours. More than 2,500 were wounded. Most of the perpetrators were arrested, received a fair trial and were put behind bars while some fled the country and sought asylum abroad, mainly in the “democracy-loving countries” of the West, who were silent for days and weeks when Turkish democracy was targeted.
It is clearly understood that FETO, beginning from the 1980s, sneaked into the veins of the Turkish state. FETO also proudly announced that it is operational in more than 160 countries, including Nepal, by trade activities and operating schools, which is impossible for the authorities to discover the organisation’s real, malign intentions.
If necessary measures are not taken by governments, it is obvious that those countries, sooner or later, may also go through what Turkey experienced in July 2016.
Today, Turkey and Nepal are closer to each other than ever before. In both 2017 and 2018, the trade volume was recorded at close to US$ 100 million, a rise of nearly 100 per cent from the previous period. In the first five months of 2019, the volume was recorded as US$ 45 million. Turkey is the fifth largest export destination of Nepal.
K P Oli, Honourable Prime Minister of Nepal, met Fuat Oktay, Vice-President of Turkey, in Geneva, last month, on June 11. Their talks were cordial.
The first-ever consultations between the two foreign ministries were held in Kathmandu on April 18, 2019. Both countries support each other’s candidacies for positions in the United Nations and other international organisations. All these at hand indicate that improved bilateral relations between Kathmandu and Ankara make both countries stronger.
Torunlar is Ambassador of Turkey to Nepal
A version of this article appears in print on July 15, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.