Colombian vice president: Turkey is ‘roadmap’ for us

January 11, 2012, Wednesday/ 17:13:00/ İBRAHİM VARLIK

Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon delivered a sparkling verdict on Turkey's status as an international economic power in comments to the Zaman daily on Tuesday. Garzon included a visit to the headquarters of the Zaman Media Group and its sister agency, the Cihan news agency, as part of the itinerary of his first official trip to Turkey.

The visit of Garzon, who serves under President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, marked an important step in the development of economic relations between the two countries.

Addressing representatives from Zaman and Cihan, Garzon, who attended a forum by the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) last week, said he hoped 2012 would see the signing of a number of important agreements between the two countries, including the establishment of direct flights between the Colombian capital, Bogota, and İstanbul.

Bogota, the most populous city in Colombia and one of the largest in Latin America, is widely known as “the Athens of South America.” Garzon, who said direct flights between Bogota and İstanbul would mark an important step in the development of trade and friendship between the two countries, revealed that talks are already under way to establish the route.

Garzon also offered his opinion on Turkey's economic position in general, revealing that he considers Turkey's economic model to be one of the most impressive in the world. “With its international relations, development and economic growth, Turkey deserves to be in a better position than it is right now. Colombia is a country looking to develop and we can benefit from Turkey's experience and example in these areas. Turkey can provide an encouraging and helpful roadmap for us,” he said, adding that this is why he believes the importance of the relationship between the countries should not be underestimated.

Last year, the volume of trade between the two countries was $268 million. However, in the past eight months alone the figure has reached an impressive $439 million, indicating a bright future for economic relations between Colombia and Turkey.

Garzon rounded off his comments by saying that he thought Turkey's role during the revolutions that swept across many Arab countries this year was highly important. “These countries are in great need of a role model that they can look to as an example,” he said, adding that, as one of the non-permanent members of this term's UN Security Council, Colombia supported Turkey's political position.

Whilst touring the Cihan news agency offices, Garzon praised the work of the company, saying they have initiated excellent projects and put together an impressive team. Garzon, who is closely acquainted with Colombian goalkeepers Faryd Mondragon and Oscar Cordoba, both of whom who play for Turkish football clubs, also proposed that a friendly football match be organized between Turkey and Colombia.

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