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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Turkey

20th August 2013

Why Turkey can be confident

İstanbul Rainbow

I started work in Turkey in September 2012 as Consul-General responsible for Trade and Investment with Turkey, South Caucasus and Central Asia.  Since then I’ve been regularly impressed by this wonderful, welcoming country.

Turks are famed for their hospitality.  But they should be famous too for their hard work; business acumen; passion; cuisine; and unparalleled history and culture.

Turkey is on an upward trajectory.  Since I first came here in the early 1980s, stepping off a ferry in Kuşadası, the economy has been transformed.  Istanbul is becoming a global hub.  Cities and towns across the country are being modernised, and their infrastructure improved.  Sectors from banking to aviation to tourism to manufacturing are booming.  GNP per capita has soared.

I even blogged the other day about how Turkish life expectancy has increased in the last 40 years.

The reason I’m here in Turkey is to boost trade between the United Kingdom and Turkey.  As I blogged recently, the more democratic, stable and prosperous Turkey becomes – obviously – the better for the UK.  We want Turkey to succeed – as a stable, economically powerful democracy in a crucial geographical and strategic neighbourhood.

That’s why the UK has consistently championed Turkey’s membership of the European Union.  Turkish membership would make the EU stronger.  It would make Turkey stronger, too.

There’s no mystery about this.  Prosperous, stable, democratic countries help make the UK itself – and the rest of the world – more secure and more prosperous.  Poor, unstable, undemocratic ones populate the list of headaches for the global community.

Against the background of a century of progress and achievement, Turkey deserves to feel confident in its ability to determine its own destiny.  I sometimes hear friends argue that events inside Turkey are determined to a large extent by external actors.  What I see, by contrast, is a country heading for a trillion-dollar economy and playing an influential role in world affairs.  As Turkey becomes increasingly important, it’s natural that international commentators will follow closely Turkey’s economic, social and political development.  Turkey should have the confidence to welcome that.

For someone living in Turkey for the first time, this feels like a powerful, vibrant country with a brilliant future.

I look forward to seeing that future realised in the years ahead.  If I can help make it happen during my posting in Turkey by boosting trade and investment between our two countries, so much the better.

Stop press: I will be answering questions about British-Turkish trade and economic relations on Twitter on 23 August at 11:30 am.

If you have a question please tweet out using #AskCG before or during the session.

Hope to meet you there!

Follow me on Twitter @leighturnerFCO!

1 comment on “Why Turkey can be confident

  1. It does all sound so wonderful doesn’t it – You might like to also ponder on the damage that the current president is doing to the years of progress made by Ataturk and why he is hell bent of ruining a solid friendship with the one stable – peaceful and democratic country in the region – Israel?

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About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.