For a diplomat it is not unusual to smile but he is one diplomat whose smile can charm any one when meeting him first time. It is this smile that speaks volumes of the great personality and friendly disposition of H E Murat Tamer, Ambassador of Turkey that singularly stood out when The Times met him for an exclusive interview.
A diplomat with a career spanning almost 26 years, Ambassador Tamer is witness to some of the great international movement the world saw especially the exciting period of ‘Cold War and Warsaw Pact Countries” In his distinguished career Ambassador Tamer has served in countries from Mexico, Germany, Jordan, Portugal, Ukraine and also in the office of both the President and Prime Minister of his own country at different intervals.
The fondness of Kuwait, his current posting, was visible in his opening remarks. “Kuwait has been a very dear country for us, we have been allies, friends and brothers since the founding of Kuwait as well as the two countries share a long history and relationship dating back to the Ottoman Empire.”
Elaborating on the friendly ties, Ambassador Tamer said “we share identical political views on almost all international issues, which makes things very easy for both nations.” What also helps is the fact that leaders of both the countries are personal friends Ambassador said while praising H H the Amir for his vast and in-depth knowledge on the region and in particular Turkey.
To drive his point, the Ambassador remarked that the most important and assuring message Turkey leadership gave to the H H the Amir of Kuwait during his recent visit to the country was that “Turkey would stand with Kuwait no matter what may come.” This was a very open and friendly message with no conditions he stated pointing out that irrespective of commercial, political or cultural ties the Turkish government will stand with Kuwait side by side.
H H the Amir’s recent visit brought forth a very frank and friendly exchange of views and has taken relations between the two nations to its historical best, Ambassador Tamer pointed out.
Kuwait tops the list of investors in Turkey with billions of dollars worth of investments in both private and government entities. “The Kuwait Finance House has perhaps more branches in Turkey than they do in Kuwait,” Ambassador Tamer remarked. He also said the National Bank of Kuwait had major shares in a Turkish Bank and applauded the CEO Ibrahim Dabdoub for his insight into investment in Turkey.
“Kuwaitis are also the top property buyers in Turkey in 2012 and now own huge real estate in the country, they have become our neighbours,” Ambassador pointed out. There is a substantial growth in the number of Kuwaitis visiting Turkey particularly in the last few years.
In 2011 only 45,000 Kuwaitis visited Turkey while in 2012 the number shot up to 67,000. We have put a target of 120,000 for 2013 and hope we can attain it, he said.
Ambassador Tamer hoped for the Kuwait government to ease visa restrictions for Turkish nationals to visit Kuwait and see the friendly and warm nature of the country. “It’s like a family state which is open, liberal and modern Islamic nation.” Pointing out he said “I like the Diwaniya culture of frank, friendly openness between the people.”
One of the immediate initiatives taken by Ambassador Tamer to boost business interaction is to begin the Turkish Kuwait Business Council. “The Turkish leg was founded in 2006 and we are very keen to start the Kuwait leg,” he stated.
He noted that there was a lack of Turkish businessmen coming to Kuwait and wanted to encourage them to engage with Kuwaiti businesses. “Our success in the small and medium enterprises (SME’s) can be emulated here in Kuwait,” pointing out adding that SME’s are the locomotive of society and can help develop the economy.
There is a perception among these companies that it is difficult to do business in Kuwait. This is not true at all. Recently though a Turkish firm SDFA was awarded a contract for $488 million. “We would like more construction companies to participate in Kuwait’s development and for this we want to connect Turkish companies with good Kuwaiti partners which is very important to do business.
The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $600 million and mostly comprises of textiles, processed foods and jewellry. “A joint committee between the two countries has put a target of $1 billion by the year 2016.” Ambassador Tamer is confident that this target will be reached by 2015 itself.
The embassy also plans some cultural programmes towards the end of the year and of particular interest will be a fashion show of royalty gowns.
Kuwait has a number of Turkish restaurants and Turkish food is very popular here. There are about 4000 Turkish nationals happily living in Kuwait. “They consider Kuwait a safe and happy place to live.” Ambassador Tamer has one son and recently the proud father of a daughter born in Kuwait.By Reaven D’Souza Managing Editor