His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf and Her Majesty Queen Silvia hosted a dinner in honor of President Abdullah Gül and First Lady Hayrünnisa Gül at the Royal Palace, where President Gül delivered an address during which he evinced his hope that his visit, which is historic in that this is the first Presidential visit from Turkey to Sweden, will make tangible contributions to carry the existing bilateral Turkish-Swedish relations to the future more strongly and more sincerely.
President Gül and Mrs. Gül attended the dinner King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia hosted in their honor.
The First Couple, prior to the dinner, came together with King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and her spouse Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip, King’s sister Princess Christina and her spouse Tord Magunuson in the Prince Bertil Suite.
The President, starting his speech by revealing his pleasure to be paying the first Turkish state visit to Sweden, said like the visit by Their Majesties the King and the Queen to Turkey in 2006 which was also the first such visit, his visit here is also an historic one. He therefore offered his thanks to Their Majesties the King and the Queen for their kind invitation and hospitality on behalf of the First Lady and his delegation.
The history of the bilateral relations between the two countries, the President noted, dates back to the 17th century, Every Turk, he claimed, knows quite well King Carl XII who was a guest of the Ottoman Empire from 1709 to 1714. A trade agreement was signed between the two countries in 1737 as well as an Alliance for Peace, Unity and Friendship in 1739, reiterated the President. For all these reasons, he said, Sweden and Turkey refer to each other as oldest friends. “In my opinion, the historic breadth of our relations is the reason for the interest of the Swedish people in Turkey, Turkish culture and language. The presence of the Department of Turcology for 170 years at the Uppsala University, which is one of Europe’s oldest universities, is the most concrete indication of this interest. In the same context, it will be my pleasure to inaugurate the Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies tomorrow with His Majesty.”
Our feelings of friendship are, of course, mutual, proclaimed President Gül, who further stated that the Turks know the Swedish people, the grandchildren of the Vikings, as a brave, heroic and resilient people. The President later reiterated that the concepts of “social democracy” and “welfare state” pioneered by Sweden are the main principles relied on by all who advocate social justice in Turkey, adding that in the same way, the understanding of value based diplomacy that emphasizes on such notions as human rights and gender equality was a source of inspiration for Turkey as well. “This rich and deep-rooted history of relations between our countries and people spanning many centuries also charge us with the responsibility to pursue our cooperation today with a global and strategic vision. 274 years after its initiation, the continuation of our friendship and cooperation in the strongest way possible by adapting to changing circumstances is, no doubt, the most valuable heritage of our rich history.”
Noting that the fundamental dynamic which adds to the inherent strength of their relations is the people-to-people contacts between the two nations, President Gül proclaimed that the 115.000 people who immigrated to Sweden from Turkey make up the first pillar of this interaction. They integrate with Swedish society and contribute to all aspects of social life here, thereby building bridges of friendship between our countries, he added.
Referring to the more than 600.000 Swedish tourists who visit Turkey annually, the President said they are the other side of this interaction. In other words, he stated, Turkey hosts approximately 7% of the Swedish population in Turkey each year. They vacation in Turkey, but also make up one of the strongest links between our peoples, he said.
The strong support by Sweden to Turkey’s accession to the European Union reflects just one aspect of our cooperation, President Gül declared. “There is a significant potential for greater cooperation between our countries not only in Europe, but also in a wide geography from the Middle East to the Caucasus and Africa. The presence of distinguished representatives of Turkey’s dynamic private sector accompanying me on this visit is an indication of our strong desire to make best use of the potential existing between our countries to our mutual benefit. I sincerely believe that this first visit in our common history, shall make concrete contributions to furthering our friendship and cooperation in every area.”
The President further noted that he would like to take this opportunity to wish a long and healthy life to Their Majesties’ granddaughter Princess Estelle who recently celebrated her first birthday.
President Gül later quoted King Oscar II, who visited the Ottoman Empire in 1885, had said about Istanbul as follows: "Can a more beautiful site meet any man's eye than that I've just seen or was it a dream?" Pesident Gül noted that he would like to say the same words for Stockholm.
Attending the dinner were Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and his spouse Zeynep Babacan; Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış and his spouse Beyhan Bağış and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his wife Sare Davutoğlu.