I have been serving as TRNC Representative in Doha since 2012 and I am delighted by the support and interest from every circle of Qatari society, with which we share cultural, religious and social ties and values. I am thankful to the esteemed leadership and the government of the State of Qatar for the warm hospitality accorded to us here in Doha since the inception of our Office in 2007.
During the last 10 years, relations between the TRNC and Gulf states have shown steady progress, especially in the fields of trade and cultural exchanges. TRNC has opened Representative Offices in the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, in addition to Qatar. These offices have been instrumental in further expanding the relations in areas of trade, tourism, higher education, culture, sports and other areas of mutual interest. Here in Doha, our office is working diligently to diversify and expand the existing relations between our two friendly countries, Qatar and Northern Cyprus.
TRNC is an observer member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and eagerly participates in all its meetings, including Summit meetings. In recent years, our country has hosted important OIC meetings concerning education, investment and water related issues. All of these meetings have been attended by delegations from many OIC members. In 2013, the OIC signed a framework agreement with the TRNC Foreign Ministry which envisage regular dialogue on international issues, export promotion and investments and other areas of mutual interest. The question of Cyprus is consistently on the agenda of the OIC. Resolutions are adopted annually by the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers which call upon member states to strengthen ties with the Turkish Cypriot people. Most recently, in June 2014, a resolution on the situation in Cyprus was adopted by the OIC meeting held in Jeddah, which among many other important things, called upon the international community ‘to take concrete steps to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people’ and invited the member states ‘to exchange business delegations with the Turkish Cypriot side; to develop cultural relations and sports contacts; and to encourage cooperation with Turkish Cypriot universities. The resolution also underlines the political equality of the two parties in Cyprus and expresses appreciation for the constructive efforts of the Turkish Cypriot side to attain a settlement through the process of negotiations.
On the political front, the Turkish Cypriot side is fully committed to the process of negotiations towards reaching a settlement on the basis of the Joint Declaration which was issued by the two leaders on 11 February 2014 under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General`s good offices mission in Cyprus. We expect the Greek Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table without further delay so that the talks can move forward to a new and decisive phase. On the economic front, Northern Cyprus is emerging as an important center for education, tourism and investments in the Eastern Mediterranean. There are 7 internationally recognized Universities in North Cyprus which provide high standard education in English to a total of 70,000 students from all around the world. North Cyprus is now being preferred as an education center
due mainly to its proximity to the GCC and Middle East countries, its tranquil and safe environment, and also the affordable fees applicable for international students. Some universities in the TRNC are also offering summer school programs and activities for international students of different age groups. These programs are designed as a multicultural experience, helping with language skills development as well as providing a flavor of history and culture. Qatar has also invested heavily on education and is now a leading education center in the region which attaches great importance to academic research, development and cooperation. Therefore, there exist immense possibilities of cooperation in the field of education between Qatar and North Cyprus. We expect that the number of students from the GCC countries enrolling in our Universities this coming academic year will increase.
We are calling upon potential
investors and businessmen in Qatar to visit our country to explore areas of possible investments, venues of cooperation in different fields and the incentives offered by the government. This would indeed be consistent with the mutual desire to increase the volume of trade between Qatar and the TRNC.
Among the European countries, the TRNC has one of the lowest tax rates for companies. Low property and communication costs, low labor costs are notable advantages for the investors. Furthermore, exemption from custom duties, funds for investment allowances, zero rate VAT on machinery and equipment, favorable lease terms on state-owned land and unlimited transfer of proceeds are additional elements which make the incentive scheme truly attractive.
Against this background, the Turkish Cyprus Investment
Agency (YAGA) is ready to assist and to guide all businessmen in their area of interest. For the first time, Turkish Cypriot companies have participated in the Cityscape Qatar 2014 and the Ibhar View Real Estate Exhibition held in June and November 2014, respectively. The interest shown by potential buyers towards owning property in Northern Cyprus was reported to be very high, given the attractive low prices and the natural beauties of the country, not to mention the comfortable weather conditions and the hospitality of the people.
There is an ongoing project to bring fresh water through a pipeline from Turkey. The project is well underway as the dams, distribution lines, supply stations and other infrastructure on both sides, namely Turkey and Northern Cyprus, has been completed. Almost half of the pipeline through the sea has been laid already. It is expected that the project will be completed in 2015, by which time North Cyprus will have access to 75 million cubic meters of water annually which will fundamentally transform the agricultural sector of the country.
Cultural exchanges between Qatar and North Cyprus is another important area which can be expanded further. In the past several consecutive years, we have participated in different cultural events where our world-famous handicraft, silk and lacework which reflect our rich Turkish Cypriot and Islamic traditional and cultural heritage were displayed. The interest shown by the Qatari society has been testimony to the fact that the two peoples are bound by cultural, religious and social ties.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish continued success, prosperity and happiness to the friendly people and government of the State of Qatar, in their pursuit of excellence and advancement in accordance with their Qatar National Vision 2030.