Turkey’s new ambassador, Gunduz Aktan, is hoping that Japanese companies will soon take even greater interest in his country as an investment opportunity and business partner.

Aktan, who arrived on his first assignment to Japan four months ago, expressed his hopes Mar. 12 in an interview with The Japan Times. Prior to assignment in Japan, the 55-year-old envoy served as ambassador to Greece and as permanent representative to the United Nations’ Geneva Office.

Aktan emphasized that Turkey has no political problems, and that Islam, as a deciding factor, has been exaggerated since the current coalition government, led by Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan of the pro-Islamic Welfare Party, was formed last June.

Two of the successful Japanese companies operating in Turkey include tire maker Bridgestone Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., Aktan said. Since Turkey has signed the customs union agreement with the European Union, which took effect Jan. 1, 1996, Aktan said many Japanese companies are starting to view Turkey as a gateway to Europe. However, he also stressed that Turkey holds strong ties with Central Asia and Russia, where heavy investment is being made.

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