ANKARA • Singapore and Turkey marked 50 years of bilateral ties on Monday, but official interactions between the two countries can be traced back to when the Ottoman Empire established the first Turkish consulate in colonial-era Singapore in 1865, 100 years before the Republic's independence.
This observation was made by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin at a reception to celebrate relations between the two nations at the Singapore embassy in Ankara.
In a speech, Mr Tan said Turkey is not just an old friend, but also an important partner for Singapore.
"Our bilateral relations are being built on two important pillars, namely the Strategic Partnership and the Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. Through these two pillars, our economic ties will grow stronger in the years to come," he said.
Mr Tan said people-to-people and cultural ties were just as important as developing strong economic ties, noting that the countries' archival agencies have signed an agreement to jointly uncover past histories and old ties between Ottoman Turkey and Singapore.
Mr Tan also expressed gratitude that Turkey's former Speaker Ismail Kahraman visited Singapore in 2016, and said he was glad Singapore could reciprocate this year and was looking forward to welcoming Speaker Mustafa Sentop on a future visit.
Mr Tan is on an official visit to Turkey with Members of Parliament Dr Teo Ho Pin, Professor Fatimah Lateef, Dr Chia Shi-Lu and Ms Joan Pereira.
STRONGER ECONOMIC TIES
Our bilateral relations are being built on two important pillars, namely the Strategic Partnership and the Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. Through these two pillars, our economic ties will grow stronger in the years to come.
SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT TAN CHUAN-JIN, on Turkey being an important partner for Singapore.
To mark the occasion, Mr Tan and the guests viewed an archival exhibition charting key bilateral milestones of the Singapore-Turkey relationship. Mr Tan presented to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs a framed copy of the 1969 Singapore Press Statement announcing the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Earlier in the day, Mr Tan laid a wreath at the Anitkabir, the mausoleum of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Subsequently, the delegation visited the Grand National Assembly of Turkey for meetings and exchanges with Speaker Mustafa Sentop and Turkish parliamentarians.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr Tan wrote: "Clearly, Singapore is held in high regard by many. The effort to maintain our good name and standing didn't happen overnight and cannot be taken for granted."