With recent positive developments, especially in defense, Turkey and Poland, two countries sharing many commonalities in cultural history, cuisine and diplomacy, have stepped up their cooperation and bilateral relations. The constant developments and negotiations indicate that the two countries, both full members of NATO, wish to intensify their collaboration through more cultural and defense initiatives and investments.
Official diplomatic contacts between the two were established between the Ottoman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 15th century. In 2013, Poland and Turkey celebrated 600 years of diplomatic relations. The history of bilateral relations dates back to 1414, four years after the Battle of Grunwald, when the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed I Ã‡elebi received the first Polish diplomatic delegation to his court in Bursa, then the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
A Polish village in Istanbul
There are some striking examples of cultural ties between the two countries. In 1842, for example, Polish warriors from the November Uprising, also known as the Polish-Russian War, established a colony in the village of PolonezkÃ¶y (city of the Poles) east of Istanbul. The very village of the historic metropolis, also known as â€œAdampolâ€, has played an important role in contributing to the unique cultural memory of both countries. Currently in the village there are 1,000 Turkish citizens of Polish origin, most of whom are descendants of Polish warrior settlers. However, around 4% of the community is fluent in Polish. This minority group goes to great lengths to maintain its national culture. The village has a Polish cemetery, a museum commemorating its history and a church called “Our Lady of CzÄ™stochowa” to cultivate Polish religious traditions. Every summer, its inhabitants organize a music festival, inviting national folk groups and various fascinating guests to PolonezkÃ¶y.
The economic aspect
In addition, economic and trade relations give impetus to the strengthening of Turkey-Poland relations. In 2018, the value of bilateral trade between the two countries was $ 6.45 billion (Turkish exports: $ 3.34 billion; imports: $ 3.1 billion). Parts and accessories for motor vehicles, compression-ignition piston engines and beef are the main Turkish imports from Poland. Turkey mainly exports automobiles, motor vehicle parts and accessories, and tractor implements to Poland.
Between 2002 and 2018, Poland’s foreign direct investment (FDI) in Turkey totaled $ 36 million, while Turkish FDI in Poland totaled $ 78 million. In 2018, 118% more Polish visitors traveled to Turkey compared to the previous year.
Currently, countries have a trade volume of around $ 6 billion and, as their presidents recently pointed out, the goal now is to increase it to $ 10 billion. As of this year, around $ 8 billion is expected to be achieved. In terms of tourism, the picture is similar since the objective for Poles to visit Turkey has been set at 1 million visitors and then at 3 million visitors within three years.
At the end of May this year, the countries’ defense ministers signed a $ 270 million agreement for Poland to purchase reconnaissance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), making it the first member state of the country. NATO and the EU to buy Turkish drones. Under the agreement, Warsaw acquires 24 Bayraktar-TB2 combat drones and four sets of unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with anti-tank missiles.
Meanwhile, Poland is one of the few member states to openly support Turkey’s EU membership, with key officials saying they see Turkey as part of Europe and believe in its future in the block. Poland, which sided with Turkey during the hard years of struggle after World War I, was the first European country to sign a friendship treaty with the Republic of Turkey.
At a time when diplomacy is stalled and global conflicts continue to drive a wedge between countries, Turkey and Poland are taking concrete steps to strengthen dialogue. This fraternal cooperation brings hope for world diplomacy. In the short and long term, it will not be surprising to see strengthened bilateral relations in all areas.