Speech at the opening of the Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies

Your Majesty,

Mr President,

Your Excellencies,

Rector (Astrid Söderbergh Widding),

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me true pleasure to be part of this opening ceremony of the Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies.

With the Institute, yet another element is added to a bilateral relationship that is constantly expanding into new fields, and that has probably never been stronger than today.

This morning, Minister Davutoglu and I signed - in the presence of President Gül and Prime Minister Reinfeldt - a Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership between Turkey and Sweden.

It was an important and natural step. And it is perhaps even surprising that it is only being taken now, given the long and rather unique cooperation between our countries.

Through the declaration, we commit ourselves to explore new areas of foreign policy cooperation, to facilitate increased bilateral trade, and to pursue the goal of Turkey's EU membership.

But the declaration also recognises the critical importance of people-to-people contacts - through tourism, through cultural exchanges, and through education and research.

It's rewarding to inaugurate a very practical example of what we had in mind when we called for closer research collaboration - and to do so just a few hours after the declaration was signed.

Rather efficient, but then again we have a long friendship to draw on, also when it comes to finding institutional expressions of our relations. Some 300 years ago, the then King of Sweden signed a decree establishing a new institution called the Ombudsman during his exile in Turkey. He is said to have been inspired by an institution of this kind at the Ottoman Court.

The opening of SUITS is timely.

Time and time again, we're reminded of Turkey as a significant rising power that has only just begun to unleash its economic potential. Its geostrategic role is unique.

We share fundamental values and agree on the need for an open world economy, the spread of democracy, and a rule-based international order.

To advance European interests, we need to gain a better understanding of our neighbourhood.

And to reinforce our partnership, we need to devote greater resources to key questions about Turkey's changing role in the world. The future of its regional leadership. The path of its developing democracy. The role of energy and migration flows in connecting or destabilising the South-Eastern Mediterranean. The case for further economic integration with Europe.

For all these - and many other - issues, SUITS is excellently placed to make a contribution.

Bringing together both public and private interests and resources, it will have an important role to play as an independent centre of excellence for Turkish studies.

So, again, I warmly welcome its creation, express my deep gratitude to the institutions that have made it possible and wish director Pål Levin and his team the best of success.

Thank you.