|Outgoing Turkish Ambassador to South Korea Naci Saribas (center) poses with members of the foreign diplomatic corps in a cake-cutting ceremony celebrating his country’s Victory Day in Seoul on Thursday. (Philip Iglauer/The Korea Herald)|
Turkish Ambassador to South Korea Naci Saribas said farewell to colleagues, friends and the foreign diplomatic community during a reception celebrating his country’s 91st anniversary of Victory Day at a hotel in Seoul on Thursday.
Turkey’s Victory Day is celebrated on Aug. 30 to commemorate the Turkish victory in the Battle of Dumlupinar, a decisive fight in August 1922 during the Turkish War for Independence.
Anticipation within the diplomatic community for the Turkish ambassador’s farewell announcement packed a small reception area with guests, including scores of ambassadors, government VIPs and military officers from more than a dozen nations.
Saribas said he plans to retire from the Turkish Foreign Service when he returns home, where he maintains an olive farm and bottles a family brand of olive oil.
The high point of the career diplomat’s two-year posting here was the signing of a strategic partnership agreement and FTA between Turkey and South Korea during a state visit by former President Lee Myung-bak to Turkey in April 2012.
Negotiations for the trade deal went through successive rounds of talks from 2010 with the pact going into force in May, abolishing or cutting tariffs on a wide range of industrial and agricultural products.
Two-way trade between Turkey and South Korea was about $6 billion in 2012, with Korean exports to Turkey at more than $5 billion, according to figures from the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
Some 200 South Korean companies, including Hyundai and POSCO, are active in Turkey.
In celebration of the Korea-Turkey FTA, the Turkish government hosted “Eureka Day 2013” in Istanbul in May, which linked up Korean companies with European partners. The Gyeongju World Culture Expo 2013 is also being held in Istanbul for 23 days through September.