I have witnessed an unprecedented chain of events during my tenure as the Turkish Ambassador in London: Brexit, the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown, war in Ukraine, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the devastating earthquakes in Turkiye on 6 February.
Following the tragic earthquakes in my country, the UK Government did not hesitate to offer a helping hand immediately.
The UK Government sent a team of 77 search and rescue experts. UK medical and aid teams continue to support the Turkish efforts, including through a field hospital, and to provide urgent relief supplies to survivors.
We are also grateful that the UK match-funded the first £5 million of public donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Turkiye-Syria earthquake appeal. UK Development Minister Andrew Mitchell visited the affected areas on 19 February.
The Turkish nation will always remember this solidarity, which is the symbol of the point reached in our bilateral relations.
I had the honour of accompanying His Majesty King Charles III when he met volunteers working for dispatching relief materials, of the UK’s Turkish community on 14 February.
His warm and caring approach, which motivated the Turkish community in the UK, has taken its place as a fairly moving and unforgettable gesture in my memories.
I am happy to say that bilateral relations between Turkiye and the UK have further developed during my tenure. In the post-Brexit period, UK and Türkiye have intensified political contacts as staunch NATO allies and strategic partners.
We signed the Free Trade Agreement just after the finalisation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and European Union.
The Free Trade Agreement is being expanded to include services, investments and additional agricultural products. Our bilateral trade volume has reached $18.9 billion.
We are pleased that Turkiye is among the top 10 favourite tourism destinations for British tourists with a new record level of 3.4 million visits.
Our officials not only exchange views on bilateral matters, but also they maintain close contact with regard to regional and global issues, such as the war in Ukraine, the Black Sea grain deal and the situation in Syria.
However, there is another key area where the UK can play a hugely important role.
Cyprus remains divided along the UN enforced Green Line. It has been divided since the bloody coup d’etat that forced Türkiye to intervene to protect Turkish Cypriots from being massacred by Greek Cypriot forces.
I believe that the UK can play a more active role in finding a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict in Cyprus.
The UK has a responsibility to Cyprus. Brexit was about Britain re-emerging on the international stage, to embrace its historic roles and deep cultural ties around the world. Cyprus is one of those places.
The UK has a historic relationship with Cyprus, a position as a UN Security Council permanent member and is home to hundreds of thousands of Turkish Cypriots.
The UK is in a unique position and holds clear responsibility to create a peaceful resolution to Cyprus’ division. For me, the best solution would be to recognise the fully functioning democracy of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The UK recognised Cypriot desire to be independent 60 years ago – why does it not recognise the desire of Turkish Cypriots to be free from a government that has repeatedly (at best) turned a blind eye to discrimination targeting them.
It is an honour and a responsibility to represent the Republic of Türkiye as Ambassador anywhere in the world. However, it has been a special privilege to be the Turkish Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
The past four and a half years have been the most remarkable and fulfilling period of my professional life.
While I am approaching the end of my career in the diplomatic service, I will always keep the UK and its people in a special place in my heart.