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Canada - Turkey Relations


Turkey is a democratic, secular, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. It is an increasingly significant actor regionally and globally, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a candidate for European Union accession, and was the chair of the G20 in 2015. Turkey is also a founding member of the International Monetary Fund/World Bank, the United Nations and many of its agencies, and is a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected President in the country’s first-ever direct presidential election, after serving for 11 years as the Prime Minister.

Since its foundation, Turkey’s foreign policy has largely focused on maintaining strong relations with the West and developing and improving relations with neighbouring countries. Turkey’s location also shapes its foreign policy objectives as it continues to expand cooperation with partners on strategic and security issues in the region. Globally, Turkey is broadening its footprint and taking a more active role in international organizations and platforms.    

‘Horizon 2023’ represents the Turkish Government’s ambitious plans for Turkey’s economic and social development through 2023 - the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.  Embodied in Vision 2023 is Turkey’s ambition to:

  • join the European Union;
  • develop as a knowledge-based economy;
  • grow further as regional manufacturing hub, particularly in higher-end products;
  • provide a safe and secure energy conduit from the Caucasus and Middle East to Europe;
  • serve as a transportation corridor to Asia and the Middle East.

Bilateral Relations

Canada and Turkey have longstanding diplomatic relations. In 1944, Turkey opened an Embassy in Ottawa and in 1947, Canada appointed its first Ambassador to Turkey. In recent years, as friends and allies, Canada and Turkey have expanded the depth and variety of their bilateral links as valued political, commercial, strategic, and security partners. Canada welcomes a vibrant Turkish diaspora community of over 65,000, the majority of whom are concentrated in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Hamilton, Calgary and Edmonton. 

Multilateral cooperation has grown through links in NATO, the United Nations and its agencies, the OSCE, the OECD, and the Council of Europe. Through these shared ties, Canada and Turkey are working together toward a common goal of promoting peace and stability throughout Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.

High-Level Visits

There have been a number of high-level visits between Turkey and Canada in recent years. The former Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer, visited Turkey in 2014, and the Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly led a parliamentary delegation to Canada in February 2015. More recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Turkey for the 2015 G20 Summit in Antalya, meeting with both Turkish President Recep Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. At the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in December 2015, Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion met with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Military and Defense Cooperation

Turkey and Canada's Armed Forces have enjoyed a longstanding cooperation. They are both committed to defending democratic values and global security within the framework of international law and global security. Both military forces are excellent partners in the multilateral sphere and work together well within NATO. This has again been recently demonstrated through close Canadian and Turkish cooperation as major contributors to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and as partners in the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Government of Turkey has also provided refuge to more than 2.5 million people fleeing the conflict in Syria and Iraq. Canada is committed to help ease the overall burden on Turkey and is currently in the process of resettling 25,000 refugees from the region, including from Turkey.

Trade and Investment

Turkey enjoys strong economic fundamentals, a young entrepreneurial population and a dynamic market.  Its economy is underpinned by a strong financial system and is well-rounded, featuring rich agricultural and mineral resources, a robust manufacturing industry and a strong services sector. While its lack of oil creates economic risks, Turkey’s geographic location has provided a historical bridge between continents for transportation and trade.

Turkey is an emerging market of broad interest to Canada. It is also a priority market in the Government of Canada’s strategies for international education, and for infrastructure. Canada-Turkey bilateral merchandise trade stood at $2.4 billion in 2014, making Turkey Canada’s 34th largest trading partner.

Turkey is the world's 20th largest economy and the third most populous nation in Europe (approximately 78.2 million) after Germany and Russia. Given its strategic geographic location and trade agreements with other countries, Turkey offers opportunities to access other markets in the region, both through partnering with Turkish companies which are established in those other markets, and through its position as a regional hub.

Niche opportunities exist for Canadian investors, particularly in the energy, information and communication technologies, mining, education and infrastructure sectors. Commercial opportunities in Turkey match well with Canadian supply capabilities.

February 2016

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