Mongolian Economy Magazine's Interview With H.e. Ambassador Mustafa Sarniç

Ulanbator Büyükelçiliği 15.07.2013

1.Turkey is a transcontinental country. Can you tell us geographic specific features of your country? From which region do you come from?

I should say, at the beginning that it is a source of joy for me to make an interview for your magazine which, I think, is one of the most efficient media organs in Mongolia for those having an interest in following politics and economy.

However I do not feel a need to exert much effort to inform our readers about Turkey, a county that has deep-rooted cultural and historical ties with Mongolia. My country is very well suited between Asia and Europe with the Bosphurus symbolizing it. That’s why, covering a geographic area of almost 750 thosand square meters and with a population of 76 million, Turkey plays a highy important role in bridging various cultures, religions and people in our region. We are as much proud of having a European, a Balkan and an Asian country as of carrying the peculiarities of any Middle East and Caucasian country. As a matter of fact, one can find this synthesis in the mixture of our cousin, our folklore and even in our daily life. And my Government is following a policy of “zero problems” and “maximum cooperation” with our neigbours, namely Greece, Bulgaria, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Georgia. Undoubtedly, the crisis in Syria is an exceptional case as a consequence of the Arab Spring. We have also excellent relations with the nearby countries like the Russia Federation, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldovia etc.

To answer to your following question, as a person I love Bursa, my home city that was the second capital of Ottoman Empire, but I have also Balkan and Eurepean connections as a member of a migrant family from Greece during the Balkan wars, and finally I feel a kind of sense of belonging to Asia with strong cultural legacy. When I sometimes go out countryside, I say yes, my forefathers should have lived long time ago in this region.

2.Dear Ambassador, you have worked in the Middle East, Magreb countries, Addis Ababa, Skopje, Prishtina, Komitini before coming to Mongolia. Which fact or influence affect to work in our country? What is your impression about working in Mongolia?

Last year this times one day after midnight my phone rang and on the other side of the line was my Foreign Minister, H.E. Ahmet Davutoglu. He said that a decision was made to appoint me to Ulaanbataar. I felt really honoured to gain such a confidence in the Turkish administration with my previous works.

You are right, it is my first ambassadorial post in Asia. My previous missions were more or less on the west part of the world. Especially, I spent my last 12 years in various Balkan countries where Turkey has deep historical and cultural ties. But it is a universal practice that appointment of an ambassador is enjoyed by the executive body. Undoubtedly, certain criteria, including merit, is taken into consideration before making such important appointments. I will never know which criteria had an affect mostly in my appointment, but my mission here is quite clear: to serve the betterment of relations with Mongolia in all areas, ranging from political dialogue to economy, from economy to culture.

I think Mongolia is one of the most suitable posts for a Turkish diplomat to gain experience while serving actively because it is situated geostrategically in a higly sensitive and critical region. And a diplomat would shoulder, among other things, to follow the developments not only in Mongolia but also in nearby region.

3.The Turkish-Mongolian relations have reached a height latest. Now even a direct flight Ulaanbaatar-Istanbul is operating. Would you tell to our readers about the planned activities in the field of economy and social development among the both countries?

Turkey and Mongolia have almost perfect relationship in all areas. One of the indicators of the strong relationship are our new chancellery and residence building which will be models for Turkey’s future residence and chancellery projects. We are planning to move very soon onto these state of-the-art buildings.

Although we have wonderful relations, there are lots of steps to be done especially in economic field. As you said, the direct flights between Ulaanbaatar and Istanbul represent a landmark development in our economic relations. During the recent official visit of the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to Mongolia, both sides agreed on increasing the number of flights, and we think that it will be beneficial for Mongolia who wishes to diversify its economy.

I think that the more personel contacts and visits will attract the more economic dynamism and interaction. So, the means of logistics and transportation should be liberalized in order to open areas for businessmen.

In parallel with the second decision to liberalize visa regime of both countries during the said visit of PM Erdogan, we are witnessing an increase in the visits of business delegations from Turkey. For example, in June, a delegation visit of the Assembly of Turkish Exporters from Istanbul is planned. We see a huge potential in a growing Mongolian market. To be more precise, the renowned Turkish construction companies should be encouraged to come and invest in Mongolia to cover the gap in housing, energy and other infrstructure areas. There are some steps already taken but it is not enough to be more visible. On the other hand, the animal husbandary and dairy products constitute the other export-oriented sectors given the huge numbers of consumers in this region.

Not last but least, I should add that Turkish private companies almost over 20 years are investing in the education sector with the five schools in four cities in Mongolia with an understanding that it is the best to invest in human being.

4.The trade volume of both countries is aimed to be increases from the current sum of USD 40 million into USD 250 million. What types of the measures are planned in the near future?

Turkish and Mongolian economies are in fact quite well compatible to each other and I am sure this will pave the way for further cooperation by the time. At the first glance, it can be seen that it is a courageous and ambitious target to try to reach a commercial trade worth of 250 million USD. But, both countries have this capacity. Mongolia have livestock and minerals. On the other hand, we have entreprenurial capacity and strong companies with worldwide connections.

5.What are your hobbies? How much time do you take for it along your busy work?

I believe that if you organize your business properly and manage it professionally, you will find more spare times to allocate for your personel hobbies. So, I am trying not to miss cultural activities organized in Ulaanbaatar and I am especially interested in music and fine arts. I remember that as soon as I came in the city of Ulaanbaatar last July, I had visited Bogd Khaan Museum.

In addition to this, I am also a fan of cinema and when I find opportunity I am delighted to see recent movies. And, during the harsh winter nights in Ulaanbaatar my closest friends are inevitably my books. By the way, my favorite sports are football and tennis.

6.Would you please share from the President’s election experiences of Turkey? What should be considered for a sound election process?

First of all, as the youngest member of the OSCE and at the invitation of the Mongolian Government, whole presidential election process will be observed by the OSCE mission that has been already deployed in Mongolia. There would be some long term and short term observers to follow the elections. A free and fair election process is pro quo non. This is my sincere wish that upcoming presidential elections will further strenghten the democratic order in Mongolia.

Previously, our presidents were being elected by the members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. But, in the referandum held in 2007 primarily addressed whether the president should be elected by the people or the Parliament, the Turkish people voted in favor of public voting. Therefore, next year Turkey is going to enjoy first time a presidential race by public vote.

7.Looking at the historical linkage of the countries Mongolia amd Turkey, what is the most fascinating fact for you?

The most fascinating fact is to see the traces of Turkish identity in these soils. When you read the story of our grandfathers in the Turkish monuments in Kharhorin or in Nalayhk, I ask myself how this long journey of the Turkish tribes from east to west during the centuries was experienced, and to which extent we carried our nomadic lifestyle to our new motherland, Anatolia. Maybe that is the reason that Turkey represents the best model in our region and this sythesis give us additional pulse and strenght. Maybe that is the another reason why Turkey is called as “virtuous power”.

8.Turkey and Mongolia are aiming to cooperate in tourism sector. What are the main aims to reach within this sector? What is specific for tourism development in Turkey?

Tourism is one of the backbones of Turkish economy. Last year, 35 million tourists visited Turkey and generated 25 billion USD dollars revenue. We would like to share our experiences with Mongolia. Actually, I have already shared my opinion with my Mongolian counterparts that we can do a lot together to strengthen tourism industry. First and foremost, the visa issue must be settled. The number of passengers carried should be increased and Turkish Airlines already proposed an increase on number of flights from Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar to enhance the capacity.

By the way, as I know, several representatives of Turkish tourism industry and companies have started to visit here to search for common viable projects such as arranging tour packages. On the other hand, Turkish Airlines plans to lead trainings on the development of tourism in Mongolia for travel agencies.

9.Could you please name from the main outputs which you have achieved during your work in the Middle East, Magreb countries, Addis Ababa, Skopje, Prishitna, Komitini?

I have done lots of things but I cannot forget my achievement in Kosova when I contributed the establishment of Kosovo-Turkey Chamber of Commerce which is still one of the strongest non-governmental institutions generating very successful projects. This Chamber now has become the economic bridge between Kosovo and Turkey. I am also encouraging Turkish businessmen to do same thing here and we have already taken very positive steps.

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