Baird Concludes Talks in Turkey

September 14, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today wrapped up a successful visit to Istanbul, where discussions centred on bilateral relations, addressing the humanitarian crisis in Syria, strengthening economic ties and improving market access.

While in Turkey, Baird announced that Canada would upgrade the status of its mission in Istanbul from a consulate to a consulate general.

“This symbolic move signifies the importance that Canada puts on its relations with Turkey and underscores the vital work that goes on in Istanbul, one of the most vibrant cities in the world,” said Baird. “This is further proof that Canada-Turkish relations are continuing on an upward trajectory, which is good news for the future prosperity of both our people.”

During his visit, Baird met with Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey, and Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs. He underscored Canada’s commitment to working with NATO ally Turkey and other allies toward finding a political solution to the conflict in Syria and preventing any future use of chemical weapons by rogue regimes around the world.

“Canada believes that the use of chemical weapons is completely unacceptable, and that a response is needed to deter any future use of these weapons,” said Baird. “The Assad regime has proven time and time again that it cannot be trusted. However, we welcome today’s developments in Geneva as a first step and commend Secretary of State Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov on their work. Canada will continue to work with our allies to find a solution to the crisis in Syria, which is clearly one of the most significant humanitarian catastrophes of the 21st century.”

Since the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, Canada has given generously to the various international efforts to support the Syrian people. To date, Canada has committed nearly $362 million in humanitarian, development and security assistance in response to the Syrian crisis.

In the wake of today’s developments, Minister Baird also consulted with Ahmad Jarba, President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in Istanbul.

Baird also met with representatives of the Canadian and Turkish business communities, building on the successful visit to Turkey in August by the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade. During Minister Fast’s visit, the two countries agreed to find concrete means of expanding trade and investment through a joint economic and trade committee. Baird also took the opportunity to meet with non-governmental organizations and human rights groups.

“Canada continues to deepen its trade and investment ties in priority markets to help our businesses succeed abroad,” said Baird. “New partnerships lead to new opportunities, which in turn create stronger and more prosperous economies in both our countries.”

Turkey is a strategic market of opportunity for Canadian firms. Canada-Turkey bilateral merchandise trade totalled a record-high $2.3 billion in 2012, up 49.7 percent from 2010. Canadian investment in Turkey stood at $909 million in 2012.

For more information, please see Canada-Turkey Relations.

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