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ICAO Secretary General Mr. Raymond Benjamın's Official Visit to Turkey Lasted Wıth Posıtıve Results

23 Feb 2015
ICAO Secretary General Mr. Raymond Benjamin paid an official visit to Turkey between16-22 February 2015 upon the invitation of H.E. Mr. Lütfi Elvan, Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications of the Republic of Turkey.  The visit was concluded successfully with very positive and mutually beneficial results for both sides.

In Ankara, the ICAO Secretary General was received by H.E. Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey.  During the meeting, Minister Çavuşoğlu reiterated Turkey's strong commitment to ICAO, called for enhanced cooperation and emphasized Turkey's resolve to shoulder more responsibilities in ICAO through Council membership, in light of the remarkable growth rate and future goals of the Turkish Civil Aviation sector. Turkey has not been represented in the  ICAO Council, the executive governing body of the Organization composed of 36 member states  since 1950 although it maintains a Permanent Representation in ICAO HQs in Montreal since 1990.

The ICAO Secretary General was also received by H.E. Mr. Lütfi Elvan, Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications of the Republic of Turkey. During the bilateral meeting, both sides had  fruitful exchanges on potential cooperation areas between Turkey and ICAO. In this context,  ICAO's strategic objectives,  rapid development of the Turkish aviation sector and its future goals, the importance of aviation training and regional cooperation, Turkey's candidacy to 2016 ICAO Council elections were among the topics discussed in the meeting. Minister Elvan and Secretary General Benjamin then signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Turkey and ICAO in the presence of press members and senior Government officials (Click here to see the text of the MOU). The MOU which is the first bilateral cooperation agreement between Turkey and ICAO envisages briefly the following:

***Close cooperation between the Parties on civil aviation training
*** Establishment of a "Developing Country Training Program"  through which Turkey will provide developing ICAO member states with 20  training fellowships every year.
***Secondment of ICAO Secretariat at least with 2 experts from Turkey every year.
*** Participation of Turkish aviation experts in ICAO audits either as observers or team members.
*** Contribution of Turkey to the "Voluntary Human Resources Development Fund for the Civil Aviation Sector in Africa" and to the "AFI Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa"

Both Parties expressed their willingness to implement the MOU as soon as possible. The training fellowship program offered with this MOU and Turkey's pledge to contribute to ICAO's African Fund and AFI plan are yet another examples of Turkey's continuing efforts for the development of civil aviation in Africa. Turkish air carriers presently fly to 42 destinations in 27 countries in Africa and aim to increase their flight network to cover all African countries. Turkey attaches utmost importance for the safe, secure and sustainable development of civil aviation in Africa and will continue to work with ICAO and all regional aviation organizations to this end.

As part of his official program the Secretary General visited Ataturk's Mausoleum in Ankara where he laid a wreath and signed the Honor Book. This was followed by a visit to the Turkish DGCA where the Secretary General was briefed about the recent developments in the Turkish civil aviation. Later on, the Secretary General visited the University of the Turkish Aeronautical Association (UTAA) where he received an Honorary Doctorate Degree and addressed the candidates of young aviation professionals. Ankara program continued with a site visit to a newly established ATM facility (SMART) which will centralize the ATM services over Turkish airspace in the coming months.  Finally, the Secretary General visited the Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. (TAI)  manufacturing facilities in Ankara and had a briefing on TAI's wide range of activities in aerospace industries which covers 152 projects. 

The official program lasted in Istanbul with Secretary General's visits to the Turkish Airlines Headquarters, Turkish Aviation Academy, member of ICAO Trainair Plus Program and the Turkish Technic, the largest MRO in Turkey. 
The Secretary General was accompanied during his whole visit by Mr. Çağatay Erciyes, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Turkey to ICAO, Mr. Bilal Ekşi Director General of the Turkish DGCA and Mr. Haydar Yalçın, Deputy Director General. 

In conclusion,  the ICAO Secretary General Mr. Raymond Benjamin's  official visit to Turkey has been successful  in many respects,  not only in further strengthening Turkey's relations with ICAO but also with African States by opening a new cooperation chapter on aviation training to the benefit of all sides.