Ambassador Suat Hayri Aka Evaluated The Nomination Process
Ambassador Suat Hayri Aka, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Turkey to ICAO, has been nominated by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey for the role of Secretary-General of the Internatio
Ambassador Suat Hayri Aka, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Turkey to ICAO, has been nominated by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey for the role of Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In light of this development, Ambassador Suat Hayri Aka evaluated the nomination process with Vira News.
“First of all, I extend my condolences to our nation and country due to the devastating earthquake disaster that occurred simultaneously in Hatay, Adıyaman, Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep, and other cities in the Southeastern region of Turkey," said Ambassador Suat Hayri Aka at the beginning of his interview. "May God not let this nation suffer from such a disaster again. Our nation is noble. And our state is compassionate. We will surely come together in solidarity to heal this wound. I offer my condolences and prayers to the families of those who lost their lives. May God rest their souls in peace. I also wish a speedy recovery to the injured and ill."
About his nomination, Ambassador Suat Hayri Aka said, "I am also pleased to see that my nomination process was welcomed positively by the maritime sector since it represents a whole with its administration". He emphasized that it is a very valuable advantage in every respect to feel the support of the sector and to show this support to the world and decision-making countries. "I have been closely following the IMO since when I went to the World Maritime University for my master's degree in 1989. This university was established by the IMO itself. We are well acquainted with the IMO's mission, founding objectives, and operations... As Deputy Undersecretary and Undersecretary, we attended many meetings on behalf of our country and contributed to the IMO's activities. For instance, during the Diplomatic Conference of the Hong Kong Ship Recycling Convention in 2009, I served as both the Head of the Turkish delegation and the Vice President of the Conference.”
"This nomination is particularly important for our nation"
Aka evaluated Turkey as an important maritime country and said: "Turkey has a significant maritime industry with its 8,500 km coastline, ports, shipyards, marinas, fishing harbors, and a merchant fleet that ranks among the top 15 in the world. It is one of the leading countries in the world that educates seafarers for the maritime industry with its maritime education institutions and nearly 150,000 seafarers. The seas are utilized in various ways such as tourism, sports, oil and gas exploration, and many other fields. Sea is one of the vital areas for Turkey. Therefore, participating in and contributing to the work of leading organizations such as IMO, which sets the rules and standards for world maritime, is also crucial for Turkey. It is an honor for me to be nominated for this high position by our state officials and to be considered worthy of such merit. In fact, this nomination has a special significance for our country as this is the first time I am running for a position at this level.
Emphasizing that he personally knew all the Secretary-Generals of the IMO for the last 30 years, Ambassador Aka added, "After I was appointed as Deputy Undersecretary in 2006, I had a much closer working relationship with those who served in this position. However, the process of selecting the Secretary-General operates differently. Council member states will evaluate and make decisions based on their own criteria."
"Support of the maritime sector is important"
In his evaluations of the nomination process, Ambassador Suat Hayri Aka said: "All candidates will carry out election campaigns and lobbying activities to promote themselves and share their ideas. In this process, one of the most crucial factors that can strengthen a candidate is the backing of the maritime industry in their country. Candidates who have the support of the industry will, in my opinion, have higher self-confidence. So, I would like to express our expectation for the support of all members of the industry. Nevertheless, I have to say that I expect a special effort from the individuals and organizations representing our sector, especially the Chambers of Shipping, Turkish Shipbuilders' Association (GİSBİR), the Union of Shipowners, Turkish Lloyd, Türklim, KOSDER, Maritime Association of Shipowners, and Chambers of Engineers."
Aka stated that his goal is to serve and contribute to both Turkish maritime and the world maritime, leaving his mark in history. "My priorities will be to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations by increasing cooperation with all stakeholders of the maritime industry. The IMO has responsibilities towards the maritime industry and its member countries. It has a vision and a mission. It has undertaken responsibilities within this framework and has ongoing activities. We would like to carry this work forward with consciousness and determination and lead a bright future for the maritime industry."
Aka also gave information about the IMO's agenda: “… significant issues such as the safety of life and property at sea, preservation of the oceans, prevention of pollution, combating climate change, and de-carbonization”. He added, "In this context, we will focus on important topics such as supporting technological advancements, producing environmentally-friendly sustainable marine fuels, developing and facilitating shipping, improving the education standards, living and working conditions of seafarers, adapting to digitalization and modernization technologies, and managing human resources and financial resources more efficiently."
Seafarers deserve to be more of a focal point and to be given more importance.
"Ship people and seafarers have shown how indispensable and important they are for humanity by providing great services to the world during the COVID 19 pandemic that swept the world for nearly three years," said Ambassador Suat Hayri Aka and concluded his words as follows:
"The spinning of the industrial wheels around the world, sustainability, production, consumption, and the supply of medical equipment and other essential needs during the pandemic were made possible by seafarers. Despite their selfless sacrifice and hard work during this period, they faced serious difficulties. They experienced significant challenges due to various regional regulations, were unable to go home, unable to switch duties, and unable to travel. Despite all these hardships, they continued to perform their duties quietly. In light of these facts, in my opinion, seafarers and mariners deserve to be more of a focal point and to be given more importance in the new era. We will work for and with them. We will protect seafarers and the seas. Both are indispensable values for the world."
Suat Hayri Aka
He was born in 1979 in Kars. He graduated from Istanbul Technical University, the Faculty of Maritime Studies (Maritime College), Deck Department, in 1982. During 1989-1990, he had his Master's degree in "Port and Shipping Administration" at the "World Maritime University" in Sweden, thanks to a United Nations scholarship. From 1982 to 1991, he worked on ships owned by Deniz Nakliyat TAŞ and in the Trade Department. Resigning from the public sector in 1991, he served as a founding partner and manager in companies engaged in different branches of the maritime industry, including shipownership, brokerage, international maritime transportation, ship purchase and sale, marine insurance, consultancy services, shipbuilding and ship salvage, towing and underwater engineering services until 2006.
He served as a lecturer at Istanbul Technical University, Faculty of Naval Architecture and Marine Sciences, giving "Ship Management and Marine Economics" course for 12 years uninterruptedly between 1994 and 2006.
He was appointed as Deputy Undersecretary at the Ministry of Transportation in 2006. He served as a Board Member representing public shares in AVEA İletişim Hizmetleri A.Ş. between 2007 and 2014 and Türk Telekom A.Ş. between 2016 and 2018. In 2016, he was appointed Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications. In 2019, he was appointed Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Turkey to the International Aviation Organization ICAO.
Suat Hayri Aka was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus Award by World Maritime University in 2015, and the title of "Honorary Doctorate" by Piri Reis University in 2019. He is married with two children and is fluent in English.