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Prime Minister of Turkey to visit New Zealand

21 November 2005 Media Statement

Prime Minister of Turkey to visit New Zealand

Prime Minister Helen Clark has announced today that the Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoðan, is to visit New Zealand from 4 7 December.

He will be accompanied by several Ministers, parliamentarians, officials, a large delegation of business people, and media.

During the visit Mr Erdogan will have talks with PM Helen Clark and other Ministers. He will visit Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington. A seminar for the visiting business delegation is being organised with the support of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Helen Clark said the visit will help foster the broader political and economic relationship with Turkey and build on the bonds arising from the shared experience of the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915.

"Turkey is in a unique strategic position at the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East," said Helen Clark.

"Turkey has an increasingly important role to play in building links and understanding between these two important geopolitical entities. Turkey has begun negotiations to join the EU, and it is expected that its economy will reap the benefits, in terms of business growth, trade and investment, of the reform programme which will run concurrently with the accession negotiations.

"New Zealand relations with Turkey have developed steadily over the last few years. High level visits in both directions and the establishment of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) to promote trade and economic activities have provided an important impetus to the relationship. There is a small Turkish community in New Zealand. In January 1992 Turkey opened an Embassy in Wellington, with New Zealand opening an Embassy in Ankara a year later. There are Turkey-New Zealand Parliamentary Friendship groups in our respective parliaments.

Turkey established a Peace Park on the Gallipoli Peninsula to commemorate the 1915 campaign, and it is a symbol of national pride and unity. A memorial to the New Zealanders who fell at Gallipoli is situated at Chunuk Bair on the heights of the Peninsula, opposite a statue of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who as a commander of the Turkish forces played a crucial role at Gallipoli. A stone from the Chunuk Bair memorial forms the centrepiece of a new memorial in the renovated Wellington Cathedral to the Anzac troops who fell during the Gallipoli campaign. A memorial to Atatürk is sited at Tarakina Bay overlooking the entrance to Wellington harbour.

"New Zealand exports to Turkey face high tariffs and import controls but totalled $32 million in the year to June 2005. Wool, hides and skins and modest dairy sales account for most of the trade. There are good prospects for diversifying trade into sophisticated technology products and in the services sector. Agritech, ICT, education, earthquake engineering, geothermal and gas and public sector reform fields offer prospects for the use of New Zealand expertise.

"New Zealand imported Turkish goods to the value of NZ$99 million in the year to June 2005. The main imports were trucks, grapes, dried fruit, rubber tyres and tractors. Other imports include carpets, machinery, textiles, chemicals and ceramics.

"Issues being worked on by officials to take the relationship forward include arrangements for the avoidance of double taxation, a working holiday scheme, and air services linkages," Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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