TÜSİAD Reiterates Calls for Reforms

The President of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Simone Kaslowski delivered opening remarks at the High Advisory Council meeting, which convened on May 15 in Istanbul. The High Advisory Council is a biannual deliberative conference where the business world takes stock of domestic and global political and economic developments and offers suggestions to policy makers from a business perspective.

President Kaslowski reiterated the Turkish business world’s calls for reforms, strengthening of democratic standards and the rule of law, and reinvigorating the EU accession process:

“TÜSİAD represents nearly 700 members and around 4500 companies. These companies account for half of non-public revenue in Turkey. Our member companies provide for 50% of registered private sector employment, excluding the agricultural sector. TÜSİAD members are responsible for 85% of Turkey’s foreign trade volume. Around three thousand executives and experts volunteer in numerous working groups. The data, analysis and recommendations provided by member companies in various sectors, our international memberships, forums we have established with universities and leading think tanks around the world inform our perspectives and policy formulations.”

“We strive for a strong and globally competitive Turkey. Therefore, our focus is on the business and investment climate, technology, education, social progress, and democracy; in summary – we are focused on sustainable development.”

“We are in a challenging period. We are confronted by difficult foreign policy issues such as the F-35 fifth generation fighter and the S-400 air defense system, natural gas deposits around Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean, the Syrian conflict, and the future of our relationship with the European Union. These issues must be resolved through diplomacy. They are increasingly affecting our economy. We can minimize foreign policy risks by implementing economic reforms and applying them effectively, particularly in the banking and financial sectors.”

“Turkey’s gains from becoming a candidate for EU accession 20 years ago has been extraordinary. What does EU membership mean to us? It means democracy, rule of law and prosperity. Adopting EU norms means achieving modern global standards.”

“We are a country that has adopted a competitive market economy model. We must avoid the impression of abandoning free market principles or that we are in search of a new economic model. In addition, we need to have strong institutions that protect these values and a consistent, concrete plan forward.”

“Today, external debt is still high, inflation is not yet at the desired level, credit deposit ratios are high and reserves are low. In order to avoid new shocks, we must adopt a comprehensive program that provides confidence. We need to strengthen the economy, solve our financial stability problem, and increase our competitiveness. Reforms in the areas of capital markets, taxes, the labor market, and education should be implemented rapidly. Although these reforms provide results in the medium-term, they will boost confidence in the short term.”

The President of the High Advisory Council Tuncay Özilhan echoed these remarks:

“We endeavor for a content, peaceful and prosperous Turkey. And to achieve this objective, we must adhere to four principles: the preservation of a liberal market economy; a rules-based international order, democracy, and rule of law.”

“Elections under fair conditions and the will of the people are the most basic requirements of democracy. Problems with electoral law or implementation must be resolved before the election, not after, and responsibility to ensure this falls to the administration.”

“Without rule of law and democracy you have nothing… no economy or anything else. And democratic principles are universal.”

“With its population of 82 million, geostrategic position, advanced infrastructure, level of industry and agriculture, Turkey has a great deal of potential. To fulfill this potential, we have been calling for democracy, an independent judiciary, rule of law, human rights, academic freedoms, advancement based on merit, and freedom of expression. And we will continue to make these calls, because that is what the bylaws of TÜSİAD require.”

“Foreign policy and defense requirements are defined by long term national interests. That is why alliances do not change easily. The European Union and Turkey’s EU accession perspective are especially important for Turkey and Europe’s future.”

Tuncay Özilhan, President, TÜSİAD High Advisory Council

Press release: Turkish
Full text of remarks by TÜSİAD President Simone Kaslowski: Turkish
Full text of remarks by TÜSİAD High Advisory Council President Tuncay Özilhan: Turkish