ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL JEFFERY AC CVO MC GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA ON THE OCCASION OF THE OPENING OF NEW OFFICES FOR THE AUSTRALIAN CONSULATE-GENERAL ISTANBUL, TURKEY 27 APRIL 2006 Thank you Damian. Marlena and I are delighted to be here, to open new premises for the Australian Consulate General. It's something of an understatement that Australia and Turkey have changed considerably in the past five or more decades. Yet some people retain strong images of both nations that don't always accord with reality. Kangaroos don't bound down the streets of Sydney, our staple diet is not meat pies; and the conception by some in the west that Turkey merely resonates the splendour and luxury of the old Ottoman Empire is far from accurate. Although wonderful traditions underpin both nations, the 21st century reality is far more complex, and dynamic. Nowhere is this more evident than here in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, and its cultural and economic centre - the only metropolis in the world which sits astride two continents. Ladies and gentlemen. The unfolding story of the Australia Turkey relationship is a positive one. Twelve months ago, Prime Minister Erdoðan of Turkey and Prime Minister Howard of Australia re- affirmed the long standing friendship between our two countries and undertook to re-invigorate the relationship. Much has occurred since then to build and strengthen that relationship - both in spirit and in the letter. For example, Prime Minister Erdoðan visited Australia in December 2005. A Joint Economic Commission was held in Ankara in November 2005. An Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement was signed by Turkish Trade Minister Tüzmen and Australian Trade Minister Vaile in Canberra in June 2005, and a Memorandum of Understanding on Agriculture was signed in December 2005 Negotiations are continuing towards the conclusion of a Double Taxation Agreement, as are negotiations to secure an air services agreement between Turkey and Australia. Our two economies have much in common and there is potential for furthering the economic relationship. We have relatively young populations to maintain the momentum of growth, and we both actively seek foreign investment. Australia's strengths in mining and agriculture provide a solid base to increase our trade and investment relationship with Turkey. Australian mining companies have vast experience in prospecting, mining, processing and marketing a wide range of mineral and energy products. These skills could be of great assistance to Turkey in the development of its own mining and processing industries. Australia's agriculture sector is amongst the most efficient in the world and we are keen to share our expertise with Turkey. The Australian Consulate-General has played a significant role in fostering trade between Turkey and Australia. This financial year the Australian Trade Commission has facilitated Australian exports valued at more than $353 million and Foreign Direct Investment valued at more than $84 million. Included in this is Austal Ships sale of two 88 metre vessels to the Municipality of Istanbul worth $145 million. Austrade has assisted two junior oil and gas companies expand in west and south-east Turkey. Education services continue to grow, with our post using a web-based strategy to underpin Australia's significant profile in this expanding sector. In health services, Medicare Australia is assisting the Turkish Ministry of Health reform its health financing system. An Australian company is assisting one of Turkey's leading wineries to improve yields and production capability. But Turkey matters to Australia for more than just commercial reasons, as important as these are. In short, both the Turkish and Australian Governments are committed to boosting people-to-people links, particularly amongst young people. As I noted earlier, both our countries have relatively young populations and it is among young people that we hope a more vigorous relationship between our countries will emerge. For many years, foreign students from a wide range of countries in Asia, the Middle-East and Europe come to Australia to study. We would like to welcome many more Turkish students to our universities and colleges. Turkey and Australia have both announced generous scholarship schemes to encourage study by young Australian and Turkish students in each other's country. Australia has extended the Endeavour Scholarship scheme to Turkey allowing five Turkish students to study in Australia and five Australians to study in Turkey each year. And the Turkish Government is funding an additional five places for Australians to study in Turkey. We have also concluded a working holiday-maker arrangement, and it is hoped that this scheme will allow young people to experience the culture and lifestyle of both countries. At the moment much of the focus in Turkey is on its accession to the EU. Australia supports Turkey's EU ambitions, and we believe that EU membership will be good for both Turkey and the EU. The modern global economy, however, is much larger than Europe and there are great opportunities for Turkey to exploit opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region of which Australia is an important and dynamic partner. Ladies and gentlemen. There is much exciting work to be done to further the mutual interests of Australia and Turkey. And so we welcome these upgraded premises for Australia's Consulate-General, to expand Australia's representation in this magnificent city and to raise the Australian profile. Indeed the "Kickin up the Dust" exhibition of indigenous photographs here adds a superb dimension to the deepening understanding between Australia and Turkey. May I conclude by saying to Damian I've heard it said that a distinguished diplomat is one able to hold his tongue in ten different languages. In an altogether different manner, the 19th century English journalist and constitutional essayist, Walter Bagehot, held this view: "A diplomat is not simply an agent, but also a spectacle." I'm not sure that 'spectacle' is a term we would use now in the way the author meant it back then, but I do use the word in the sense of 'extremely impressive'. And so, Damian I commend you and your staff for the magnificent work you are doing to represent Australia's interests, and wish you all continuing success for the future. Ladies and gentlemen. It is my great pleasure now to declare the new premises of the Australian Consulate-General officially open.