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Time for Unity and Reform in Turkey

The people of Turkey have voted in a referendum on proposed amendments to the Constitution. We are living in a period of historically important global changes. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, it is now time to stand in solidarity for a stronger Turkey and to look to the future without delay.

Turkey’s structural problems continue today as they did before. Resolving these problems are in Turkey’s national interests and is essential to becoming globally competitive. It is time to progress by preserving freedoms, pluralism and solidarity. We urge the government and parliament to prioritize the reform agenda that is before our country. Our proposals can be summarized under the following three categories:

DEMOCRACY

In a globally competitive environment, it is in Turkey’s national interests to preserve the rule of law, democracy and freedoms. In spirit of the strong commitment to democracy exhibited during the campaign, the following reforms must be prioritized:

  • Ending the state of emergency, which was necessitated by the attempted coup of July 15 and restoring the rule of law;
  • Strengthening the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, that is inclusive of all segments of society;
  • Revising the electoral threshold to enable maximum and just representation;
  • Upholding merit and loyalty as guiding lines in public service;
  • Reforming the Political Parties Law;
  • Establishing a system of justice that protects freedom of thought and expression;
  • Securing the right of access to information and communication, strengthening media and internet freedoms, and harmonization of regulation of personal data protections with European Union standards.

ECONOMY

Although the economy confronts serious risks due to uncertainty in the global economy, Turkey’s strong macroeconomic balance, dynamic population and young workforce provide great opportunity. Economic growth can be achieved by reforms that increase productivity as opposed policies that boost demand. To achieve macroeconomic stability in the short term we strongly support measures to reduce inflation below the 5% target. The implementation of structural reforms that builds confidence in Turkey’s economy and international position is of critical importance:

  • The preservation of the independence of supervisory and regulatory agencies;
  • Measures against the unregistered economy and the establishment of transparency and effectiveness in tax policies;
  • The improvement of capital markets and alternative means of financing to create resources for the real sector;
  • Support for financial literacy and digitization with the aim of achieving financial inclusiveness;
  • The enactment of public procurement legislation that is competitive, transparent, and effective in line with EU standards;
  • Comprehensive education reform that prioritizes free thinking, analysis and creativity, STEM education (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and English competency;
  • Support for SMEs by increasing productivity and providing access to financing in the digital age;
  • Modernizing the industrial strategy with concrete goals for the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and digital technological transformation, which will define the strength of countries in the 21st century;
  • Resolving structural problems that cause higher food prices, such as increased production costs, supply shortages, and problems in the production chain;
  • A comprehensive action plan for a sustainable tourism sector;
  • Reforms aimed at creating a sustainable, predictable and free market in the energy sector;
  • Regulations and incentives that preserves Turkey’s natural resources and promotes the transition to a low carbon economy;
  • An action plan aimed at the development of digital competence skills for the citizens;
  • Strengthening the relationship between education and labor markets and harmonization of qualifications to combat youth unemployment;
  • Reducing tax and premium burdens on employment to average OECD levels and improving labor market flexibility;
  • Decisive steps towards securing gender equality in all areas, especially in education, labor force participation, and management;
  • A communication strategy seeking public support for the implementation of these reforms and strengthening Turkey’s foreign relations.

RELATIONS WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION

The Turkey-EU relationship comprises historical depth, active partnership and future gains. The EU accession process is critically important for a globally competitive Turkey. This process provides competitive strength, social prosperity, technological development, finance, investment, exports, tourism and rule of law, which are priorities for Turkey’s national interests. As it progressed towards EU accession, Turkey became a source of economic and democratic reference for advancing countries around the world. At the same time, Turkey has had greater contributions to Europe due to its strong relations with other parts of the world. Meanwhile, the strategy for “Europe’s future” is evolving in concentric circles, with a federal Eurozone in the center of a wider confederal European Union. The goal of accession negotiations may in fact be pursued as Turkey preserves its democratic stability and the EU adopts a flexible integration model. In this respect, the following fields of action should be prioritized:

  • Updating the existing customs union regime, including the digital economy dimension, as a strategic priority;
  • Better integrating Turkey into European internal security cooperation in the fields of migration and refugee policies, the struggle against organized crime and terrorism, and visa free travel;
  • Closer cooperation with the EU in energy policies in the areas of international supply networks, market regulations, and renewable energy technologies;
  • Achieving a solution in Cyprus;
  • Actively contributing to peace and social order in Syria, as a NATO member and European country.

We believe that, as it reforms in the areas of democracy, economy and the EU process, Turkey’s star will rise as a globally competitive and prosperous country.