Turkey-Poland Relations In The 600th Anniversary Of The Establishment Of Diplomatic Ties, 21.3.2016
The year 2014 marks the 600th anniversary of the establishment of unbroken diplomatic relations between Turkey and Poland.
The Ottoman Empire and Poland (then, Poland-Lithuania) had been direct neighbors from the late Middle Ages until the end of the eighteenth century. Long coexistence of both states led to development of rich and diverse forms of contacts at various levels.
First contacts date back to Sultan MehmedÇelebi (Mehmed the First) era. In 1414, Hungarian King Sigismund asked the help of the Polish King Ladislaus Jagiello against the Ottomans. In response, King Jagiello offered to mediate between the two powers and sent Skarbek of Gora and Gregory as envoys to Sultan Mehmed Çelebi. Accordingly, first formal diplomatic contact was established between the Ottomans and the Poles. Later, with the help of the King of Poland, Hungary and the Ottoman Empire signed a six-year truce.
From that date on, the Poles had received support from the Ottoman Empire, particularly during the painful periods of their history. The Ottoman Empire defended the rights of Poland, whose territories were divided among Russia, Prussia and Austria. It is widely read in history books that, in the nineteenth century each reception ceremony of a foreign ambassador in Istanbul began with an announcement sacred formula: “the Ambassador of Lehistan (namely, Poland) has not yet arrived”. This practice reflected the fact that the Sublime Porte had refused to recognize the partition of Poland.
Indeed, when Poland faced invasions and divisions, the Polish men and women found refuge on Turkish soil, escaping the ruthless occupation of their land. In return, these men and women made invaluable contributions to the political, military, cultural and scientific life of Turkey.
Today’s Polonezköy, literally meaning the “village of the Poles”, a beautiful place just outside Istanbul, was founded by Prince Adam Czartorvski and a group of Poles, who sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire after the unsuccessful November Revolution in 1842. The place is called Adampol in Polish, after the founder of the village. Polonezköy is a beautiful point of attraction to local and international tourists and is a symbol of Turkish-Polish friendship.
A significant name from the common history of the two countries is Adam Mickiewicz, the author of the national epic of Poland, Pan Tadeusz. Adam Mickiewicz, after participating in the Crimean War, lived in Istanbul and died there. Today, his house is intact, serving as a museum in Istanbul and a reminder of the historic relations of the two countries.
Famous composer and interpreter Ali Ufki Bey (Wojciech Bobowski), painter of Sultan Abdülaziz, Stanislaw Chlebowski, great Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet whose grandfather is Mustafa Celaleddin Pasha (Konstanty Borzecki who served in the Ottoman army), world-wide gamous soprano the “Turkish Diva” Leyla Gencer who was born in Polonezköy, and one of the first Turkish Ambassadors of the Republic of Turkey to Poland, novelist, writer Yahya Kemal Beyatlı can be counted among many names who served to build solid ties between Turkish and Polish people throughout history.
The Rakowicki Cemetery in Krakow, the resting place for many Turkish soldiers who lost their lives on Polish land at the Galician front during World War I, is another symbol of historic solidarity between the two peoples.
The two countries signed a Treaty of Friendship on 23rd July 1923. Thus, Poland was one of the first countries that recognized the young Turkish State even before it became a Republic.
Today, celebrating their 600 years old friendship, Turkey and Poland are looking to their future with confidence and hope. The bilateral relations are at a very good level. In fact, since 1989, there has been a trend of progress in all aspects of bilateral relations. Turkey strongly supported Polish aspiration to become a member of the NATO. Poland has always been one of the strong supporters of Turkey’s EU membership. Sharing common values and a similar foreign policy vision the two allies enjoy a comprehensive cooperation at bilateral as well as international level. In fact, Turkey’s and Poland’s geographical positions, their magnitudes and historical experiences as well as the significant contributions the two countries make to global security and stability present new opportunities for further cooperation.
On the other hand, as two rapidly-growing countries with dynamic and vibrant economies, Turkey and Poland have a great potential for economic cooperation. The areas of cooperation include energy, ship-building, construction, infrastructure and defense industries. Bilateral trade volume has remarkably increased in recent years reaching 5.2 billion Dollars. Both sides are determined to increase this amount.
The frequent high level visits and increasing economic, cultural and touristic contacts significantly contribute to further deepening of bilateral relations. It is worth mentioning the education sector. There are around 2.000 Turkish students studying in Polish universities and Turkey is also a very popular destination for many Polish students. Almost every year around 450.000 Polish tourists visit Turkey.
Both countries are confident that the 600th anniversary, which will be celebrated in Turkey and Poland throughout 2014 with an extensive program of almost 150 activities, will bring a new impetus to their relations.
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