Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Margaret Thatcher

Speech at dinner for Turkish Prime Minister (Turgut Ozal)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: speaking text
Editorial comments: 1945 for 2000.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 899
Themes: Conservatism, Privatized & state industries, Trade, European Union (general), Foreign policy (Middle East)

Turgot OzalMr. Prime Minister, Your Excellency, My Lords,Ladies and Gentlemen.

May I first bid you and Mrs. Ozal a very warm welcome hereto No.10 Downing Street on what is the first official visit by a Prime Minister of Turkeysince 1952. We welcome you as Prime Minister of a country which is a loyal ally inNATO; as leader of a government which has taken [end p1] enormous strides towards overcoming formidable economic problems; and above all as representative of a countrywhich is a close friend of Britain.

Prime Minister, we honour and respect Turkey as a land of ancient civilisation.

Our formal links date from the time of the first Queen Elizabeth I Elizabeth but do not seem to have got off to thebest possible start. [end p2] The Sultan had to write a letter of complaint about one of ourearly ambassadors and his staff in 1594. Apparently—and I quote from theletter— “They are far from being good neighbours. They are constantly practising debauchery … At times of prayer they playdrums, fifes and clappers … Their turpitude and their transgressions areinordinate.” I am sure that matters are much better run [end p3] now, and thatSir Mark Russell 's parties are a model of decorumand decency.

It was later to London, to the Court of St. James, that the Ottoman Empire appointedits first resident Ambassador.

His early despatches complained bitterly of the weather—I can't think why.

Of your martial skills there was never any doubt. [end p4] And indeed we came to appreciate them particularly duringthe Korean War, where we fought side by side and whenTurkish soldiers showed outstanding bravery and fortitude.

But we also came early to recognise the gentler side ofTurkey. [end p5]

In the Nineteenth Century you received a testimonial froma rather unlikely source—LordByron. He wrote from your country to a friend:

I see not much difference between ourselves and theTurks, save that they have long dresses and we short;and we talk much and they little. … They are sensiblepeople.

And so they still are,Prime Minister.

I know there aremany similaritiesbetween [end p6] theeconomic policiesof our twogovernments, withthe emphasis onindividualinitiative and thecrucial role ofprivate enterprise.Indeed one Britishnewspaper tells methat my policiesare notThatcherite, theyare Ozalite.

I take it as agreat compliment.

I wasparticularlypleased to hearabout your plansfor privatisation.

It is a policy which has worked very well for [end p7] us andI believe you will find that giving people a direct stake ofownership in industry is one of the best ways to strengthenthe foundations of enterprise and initiative.

We are also very keen to strengthen our trading andcommercial links.

You will find plenty of evidence of British companies'interest in trade and investment in Turkey round this tabletonight, in the [end p8] representatives of many great Britishcompanies.

Our exports to you rose by 40 percent last year;yours to us nearly doubled.

We shall be signing a Double Taxation Agreement duringyour visit and have finalised negotiations for an InvestmentPromotion and Protection Agreement.

I am also very pleased to say that we are able further toincrease our export credit [end p9] cover for Turkey by asubstantial amount.

We have also been able, Prime Minister, to discuss someoutstanding problems.

One of course is the situation in Cyprus, where I am pleased that youwere able to confirm Turkey's support for the initiative ofPerez De Cuellar the United NationsSecretary-General. It is vital that his efforts should succeed. Theprice of failure is simply too great to [end p10] contemplate.

We also discussed European issues.

I think it can fairly be said that no-one has worked harder than the UnitedKingdom over the past year or two to improve relations between the European Communityand Turkey. You know, it was an Englishman, William Penn,who as early as 1693 wanted to include Turkish delegates in his proposed Diet of [end p11] Europe.

That gives us a very respectable pedigree.

We are at last getting relations back to the level envisaged in the EuropeanCommunity-Turkey Association Agreement.

Our priority now must be to revitalise that Agreement, so that itcan become in practice a framework for a much closer economicrelationship, leading to customs union. [end p12] I give you my solemnundertaking that Britain will continue to work for that result, becausewe believe that both Europe and Turkey will benefit from it.

It is best to concentrate on this immediate task, leaving otheroptions open for the future.

Prime Minister, your visit is a very important landmark in relationsbetween Britain and Turkey. [end p13] It confirms the very genuine feelingsof friendship for Turkey which exist here. It strengthens the respectwhich we feel for Turkey's achievements.

We remember the stirring words of Turkey's greatest leader, Kemal Atatürk, in 1924: “The Turkish nation is ready and resolved to advance, unhalting andundaunted.”

That, Prime Minister, is the Turkish spirit and we recognise and honour it no less in you [end p14] and in all that you are doing for your great country.

May I ask you allto rise and drink atoast to thePresident of Turkey,to Prime MinisterOzal and hisdelegation, to thesuccess of hisgovernment'spolicies, and toever closercooperation betweenBritain and Turkeyand between theEuropean CommunityandTurkey.