TÜSİAD General Assembly Convened and Elected the new Board of Directors

The General Assembly of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) convened in Istanbul yesterday and elected a new Board of Directors.

Orhan Turan was re-elected President of the Board of Directors of TÜSİAD. Serpil Veral, B. Can Yücaoğlu and Ozan Diren were elected Vice Presidents.

Ömer Aras has been elected President of the High Advisory Council of TÜSİAD.

The members of the Board of Directors and High Advisory Council are as follows:

Board of Directors:

Orhan Turan (President)

Serpil Veral (Vice President)

B. Can Yücaoğlu (Vice President)

Ozan Diren (Vice President)

Cevdet Alemdar

İzel Levi Coşkun

Fatih Kemal Ebiçlioğlu

Perihan İnci

Ömer Mert

Çağatay Özdoğru

İzzet Özilhan

Yılmaz Yılmaz

High Advisory Council:

Ömer Aras (President)

Ömer M. Koç (Vice President)

Arzuhan Doğan Yalçındağ (Vice President)

N. Ümit Boyner (Vice President)

Zekeriya Yıldırım (Vice President)

Tayfun Bayazıt (Secretary)

Agah Uğur (Secretary)

Remarks by President Orhan Turan and out-going President of the High Advisory Council Tuncay Özilhan

President Turan and the out-going President of the High Advisory Council, Tuncay Özilhan, delivered opening remarks summarizing the business world’s views of domestic, economic, and foreign policy matters.

Orhan Turan began his remarks by reflecting on the previous year, in which Türkiye suffered a catastrophic earthquake, conducted a pivotal national election, and marked the centennial of the Republic. He said that the incoming Board of TÜSİAD would continue to work tirelessly to elevate the country to levels of contemporary civilization.

In his remarks, Turan called attention to the upcoming municipal elections on March 30, calling all political parties to work towards improving quality of life:

“Local governments play a significant role in building democracy from the bottom up. The principle of subsidiarity, sharing the powers and duties between central and local governments, is a key concept. In ensuring well-functioning and effective governance, delegating responsibility and authority to agencies closest to the citizens they serve is crucial. Localizing politics to strengthen pluralism was a topic that emerged in our workshops for the Second Century of the Republic project. Strengthening local governments and the active participation of the public in decision-making mechanisms are essential for simultaneously advancing democracy and the Republic. Additionally, we have been emphasizing the importance of women’s participation in politics for many years. Unfortunately, looking at the candidates announced so far, the ratio of women among the candidates running in these local elections does not meet our expectations.”

President Turan also reiterated the business world’s calls for reforms to strengthen the economy:

“We have gone through a very challenging economic period. To work through the problems of this period and carry onward, we must continue to adhere to a rational policy framework. In the fight against inflation, we emphasize the importance of supporting monetary policy with social policies and fiscal policy. This process is crucial not only for reducing inflation but also for alleviating its enduring negative effects, especially for those with fixed incomes. Undoubtedly, the problems in the Turkish economy cannot be overcome solely through monetary and fiscal policies. Circumventing the core issues and implementing short-term solutions that postpone actual solutions are not in the best interests of our country.”

“Without transforming the production structure to align with the latest technological revolution; improving productivity; increasing high-value-added production in industry and agriculture; preventing brain drain; solving the problem of quality education and a qualified workforce, we cannot maintain the competitiveness of our economy. Without these measures, we cannot achieve a permanent improvement in inflation, solve the livelihood problem, resolve the current account deficit problem, create employment, and escape the middle-income trap to join high-income countries. In a period where uncertainties and transformations are intensifying, we must take these steps without delay.”

In his remarks, Orhan Turan stated that 2024 would be a year of historic significance for global democracy:

“Elections will be held in 76 countries where more than half of the world’s population resides. The outcomes of these elections will be crucial in shaping the future of the world. We are in a period where global geopolitics is being redefined, globalization is failing to meet expectations, debates on the decline of liberal democratic values are intensifying, and institutions are undergoing significant changes. Supply chains, energy routes, and power balances are also shifting. It is evident that many of our problems are the shared challenges of the contemporary world. Therefore, it is the right time to generate shared solutions for our common problems. To reform the global system, our relationships with the West and specifically with the EU can be reoriented to serve as tools for progress.”

Turan also reiterated calls to improve the education system in Türkiye:

“The fact that our youth are beginning to seek their futures abroad poses a significant long-term challenge to our country. Despite graduating from our best schools, our young talents primarily choose foreign countries for university education. We are losing the young minds we have raised with great effort to other countries. Almost every city now has a university, yet we see that the rate of university graduates joining the workforce is decreasing, and the unemployment rising. Education costs are increasing, and the benefits are diminishing. However, developments in artificial intelligence and robotics make quality education more critical than ever. Jobs that could be subject to automation are at risk. Businesses looking to maintain competitiveness and increase productivity are investing in new technologies. Companies struggle against foreign competitors to employ individuals with the skills required to utilize new technologies. While unemployment increases due to skill mismatches, businesses are experiencing a shortage of human resources. If we cannot improve the quality of education, ensure equal opportunities in quality education, and equip our youth with the skills of the new era, we will not be able to train the workforce, which is the essential element of our competitiveness. As I emphasized, the education system that will allow us to keep pace with the times prioritizes critical and creative thinking rather than rote learning. Furthermore, we must firmly adhere to the guidance of science and reject the influence of religious sects or structures associated with politics in education. Let us not forget that one of the most important pillars on which we will build our future is people. Perhaps the most important one. We must strengthen this foundation. If we deviate from the principles of secularism and science in education and move away from equal opportunities, we will also deviate from our goals of human development, scientific progress, and effective and quality institutions and rules.”

Finally, President Turan emphasized the importance of democratic standards and rule of law:

“To prevent political tension and social polarization, the most effective method, as we know, is to ensure better functioning of democratic processes. In our project on the Second Century of the Republic, one of our focuses was strengthening the Republic and democracy. Although there have been significant achievements, to achieve a stable democracy and to elevate democratic standards more needs to be done. We need more progress in areas such as rights and freedoms, equal citizenship, checks and balances, political participation and particularly in the rule of law. For a strong sense of trust in justice, there should be no contradictions in court decisions, harmony should be ensured among judicial bodies, and decisions should be binding for everyone. The right to a fair trial must be applied in accordance with the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights. Every court decision at all levels should also comply with the international norms and treaties we are part of.”

The out-going President of the High Advisory Council, Tuncay Özilhan, reflected on domestic and international political and economic developments over the last 9 years – the time in which he served in various leadership positions in TÜSİAD. He reminded members of speeches he has delivered over the years, calling for political and economic reforms in Türkiye. He said that all policy recommendations made by TÜSİAD are based on its charter: “Our charter is clear and straightforward. Our objective is the establishment of a social order that embraces the universal principles of human rights, freedoms of thought, belief, and initiative, the secular rule of law, participatory democracy, liberal economy, the institutional and regulatory framework of a competitive market economy, and sustainable environmental balance.” In his concluding remarks, he said, “For 53 years, TÜSİAD has been an extraordinary civil society organization for our country. Moreover, it has always been an independent, civil, and, most importantly, a business organization based on voluntarism. TÜSİAD draws its strength from its members and the public support of the opinions it expresses. Nothing else. If you ask me what makes TÜSİAD what it is, I would say, it is the organization’s steadfast progress along the same path with determination for years.”

Özilhan has been appointed asHonorary Chairman of TÜSİAD.

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