Interview of our Ambassador H.E. Mr. Egemen Bağış with Vsudybyl Magazine
Below you may find the English translation of the interview of our Ambassador H.E. Mr. Egemen Bağış with Vsudybyl, Prague's popular magazine.
"Czech Republic is one of the most sought-after country for Turkish students.
The Republic of Turkey is one of the preferred holiday destinations of Czech tourists and is a strong business partner of the Czech Republic. In addition, the Czech Republic is one of the most sought-after countries of the Erasmus program by Turkish students. I came to talk about this with His Excellency Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the Czech Republic, Mr Egemen Bağış, whose first diplomatic mission brought him to the Czech Republic.
Mr. Ambassador, you are briefly in the Czech Republic, how do you like it?
A lot. I arrived on November 11, 2019, and exactly a month later, on December 11, President Milos Zeman received me, and I handed over my credentials to him. I have visited Prague many times in the past, but as you know visiting the country and living in it is a big difference. My 16-year-old daughter is here with me. She is a student of the International School of Prague. My wife is a successful entrepreneur in Turkey and often travels between Turkey and the Czech Republic. My son studies in North Carolina at the prestigious Duke University. So I was very glad that my family and I spent Christmas in Prague. I believe that the magic of Prague and the Czech Republic will bring happiness and well-being both to my family and to the relations between our countries.
Mr. Ambassador, you graduated from high school and college in New York.
My father was an attaché at the Turkish consulate. We moved to New York when I was fifteen. Upon graduation from high school and after my father's diplomatic mandate came to an end, my family moved back to Turkey. I decided to stay in America and continue my studies and work. I met my wife, who is also from Turkey, in college. In the summer of 1993, when I graduated, we got married. I continued my master's degree in public administration. After graduation, I started my own business and was active in the Turkish community, where I was elected president of the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce over time. In 2002, I was elected to the Turkish Parliament and stayed there for almost 14 years. I have gone through many positions, for example, as a foreign policy adviser. I was then the chief negotiator and representative of the Republic of Turkey for EU affairs. Then I left high politics and began teaching at universities and working as a consultant for multinational corporations. Then I was asked by our President, Mr Erdoğan, to become the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the Czech Republic. It is a great honor for me to represent Turkey and connect our two great countries.
So we can say that education played a crucial role in your life.
No doubt, yes. Education plays an important role in the lives of all of us. In mine, it also formed my destiny and showed me the way.
Turkey is one of the top destinations for Czech holidaymakers.
The Republic of Turkey is a very friendly country towards the Czechs. There are very friendly relations between our governments. Turkey-Czech market is growing every day and moreover, as you mentioned, Turkey is a favorite place for Czechs for their summer holidays. The same applies in the opposite case. The Czech Republic is one of the most visited destinations of Turkish tourists. However, there is still room for improvement. The more citizens visit our countries, the more they can understand their cultures, customs and characteristics.
What role do Turkish Airlines play in our mutual business and tourism?
Turkish Airlines has created one of the largest transport networks in the world. They fly to more countries than most other airlines. The new airport hub in Istanbul has created an above-standard facility for flights to the whole world, for example we fly to Prague three times a day. Not only Czechs fly from Prague to Turkey. For example, Vietnamese fly a lot through Istanbul to their homeland. Istanbul is a transit destination for passengers flying from Europe to Asia, Africa and America. Istanbul Airport is one of the largest in the world and Turkish Airlines is one of the best serviced airlines with the most modern airline fleet. Our mission is to create pleasant and comfortable conditions for passengers and to transport them safely to all destinations.
Turkish Airlines is also used by Turkish students studying at Czech universities as part of the Erasmus program.
Among the Turkish Erasmus students, the Czech Republic is one of the most sought-after countries. First, you have some of the best universities in Europe. Secondly, university cities such as Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Opava, Pilsen, Olomouc or Ceske Budejovice are not so large compared to other European cities, so students can easily navigate in them. Third, prices in the Czech Republic are favourable, and study is more affordable. Fourth, the Czech Republic is a friendly country. The Czechs are very hospitable to those who want to learn and get to know your culture, history and customs. We encourage our students to study in your country and they do.
You are at the beginning of your first diplomatic mission. What would you like to achieve in the Czech Republic?
When entering upon my duties, I requested an analysis of the trade exchange between Turkey and the Czech Republic. Its volume was three and a half billion US dollars. This number has stagnated since 2012. It is time to increase our mutual trade rapidly and give it an opportunity to get a second wind. My goal is to help make its volume reach $ 5 billion in two years. To do this, we need to involve both sides of this process. Promote mutual business activities including tourism."
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