Turkish Consulate General in Antwerpen

Info Notes

General Information, 10.11.2009

Turkey-Belgium : Economic relations

According to data provided by the Turkish Institute of Statistics, in the period January-November 2008, Turkey’s exports to Belgium amounted to 2.5 billion USD, which constituted a 10% increase compared with the previous year. Turkey’s exports to Belgium have steadily increased over the past years and have doubled since 2003.

Similarly, Turkey’s imports from Belgium have increased by 16% from 2007 to 2008, thus reaching 3.5 billion USD for the same period.

Turkey ranks 16th in Belgium’s exports and 19th in its imports. Therefore, the two countries are important trading partners.

Turkish exports to Belgium mainly consist of transport equipment, textile and textile products, metals, machinery and mechanical equipment; whereas it imports chemical industry products, plastics, rubber, metals, machinery and transport equipment.

Mutual investments and long term partnerships are an important factor in the development of commercial relations between Turkey and Belgium. Currently 400 Belgian firms are established in Turkey. In parallel with this trend, Turkish investments in Belgium are also growing. So far, 13 Turkish firms, mainly in the fields of ready-to-wear and transport equipment, have established branches in Belgium.

Another dimension of the commercial cooperation is the participation of a large number of Turkish firms in major fairs organized in Belgium, such as the Seafood Fair, Decosit Home Textile Fair or Busworld Fair.

The Turkish population in Belgium makes a noteworthy contribution to the bilateral economic relations. Many Turks who arrived in Belgium as workers in the 1960s have become employers, while some created middle sized enterprises.

Some 597,000 Belgian tourists traveled to Turkey in 2008, with a 10% increase from the previous year. Many Belgian citizens acquire properties in Turkey.

Turkey-Belgium: Political relations

The diplomatic relations between the Ottoman Empire and Belgium were established in 1838 and have been maintained without interruption throughout the history of the Turkish Republic.

The relations between the two countries are very good, not only due to the fact that Turkey and Belgium are allies, but also thanks to the presence of 180.000 Turks in Belgium, 140.000 of whom possess dual citizenship.

Important bilateral visits and contacts:

2006:

President of the Commission for Human Rights Monitoring of the Grand National Assembly Mehmet Elkatmış visited Brussels 22-24 March and held meetings with Turkish citizens and NGOs as well as Belgian authorities.

Turkey-Belgium Political Consultations were held on 4-6 April on the level of Political Directors.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Senate paid a visit to Turkey on 6-7 April 2006.

Bilateral consular consultations were held in Brussels on 18 May.

Minister of State and Chief Negociator for EU Ali Babacan met with Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht on the occasion of his visit to Brussels on 6-8 September.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht paid an official visit to Turkey on 30-31 October 2006.

2007:

Due to elections in both countries no high level visits took place in 2007.

2008:

Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of State Cemil Çiçek visited Brussels on 18-20 February, on the occasion of  the 5th Worldwide Security Conference and held meetings with Belgian Minister of Justice Jo Vandeurzen and Minister of Interior Patrick Dewael.

Minister of National Defence Vecdi Gönül paid a visit to Brussels in the framework of the promotion of İzmir’s candidacy for EXPO 2015 on 19-20 February and met with Defence Minister Pieter de Crem and Economy Minister Sabine Laruelle.

On 6 March, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan held a bilateral meeting with Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht on the margins of the NATO Ministerial in Brussels. The Ministers met again in September in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

The Turkey-Belgium Meeting of Foreign, Interior and Justice Ministers took place in Istanbul on 31 October 2009.

On 2-4 December, Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Kadir Topbaş attended the inauguration of the “Istanbul Center” Art Gallery in Brussels.

2009:

President Abdullah Gül paid a visit to Brussels on 25-27 March as the guest of honor of the European Business Summit. During his visit, President Gül held a tête-à-tête meeting with King Albert II and received in audience Foreign Minister and Minister of State Karel de Gucht.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Brussels on the occasion of the Crans Montana Forum 20th Annual Conference held on 25-26 June 2009 and held a meeting with Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy. Ministers of State Hayati Yazıcı, Egemen Bağış and Selma Aliye Kavaf were also present at the meeting.

On 21-25 September, President of the Human Rights Commission of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Zafer Üskül and a delegation of parliamentarians paid a visit to Belgium. The Turkish delegation held meetings with Belgian counterparts and visited penitentiary facilities.

Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice Ahmet Kahraman visited Belgium on 16 October and held a meeting with his counterpart at the Federal Public Service for Justice.

Turkey-Belgium: Cultural relations

Major cultural activities organized by or with the contribution of the Embassy in 2008:

-          “0090 Art Festival” organized in Antwerp on 8 February.

-          1st International Congress of European Turks in the Context of Education and Culture held in Antwerp on 22 February

-          Celebration on the occasion of 23 April-Children’s Day at Brussels “Bozar” on 26 April

-          Concert by musicians Ezgi Saydam and Kamerhan Turan on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the Republic at the Royal Conservatory on 31 October.

-          Inauguration of “Istanbul Center Brussels Art Gallery” on 2 December.

-          Concert entitled “Music Beyond Conflict” at the Royal Fine Arts Palace on 3 December.