The General Assembly of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) convened in Istanbul this week and re-elected the Board of Directors. Simone Kaslowski was re-elected President of TÜSİAD. Murat Özyeğin, Mehmet Tara and Bahadır Balkır were re-elected Vice Presidents. Tuncay Özilhan has been re-elected President of the High Advisory Council of TÜSİAD.
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of TÜSİAD.
The President of TÜSİAD Simone Kaslowski and the President of the High Advisory Council Tuncay Özilhan delivered opening remarks calling for reforms, strengthening of democratic standards and the rule of law, and reinvigorating the EU accession process.
Excerpts from their remarks and election results are below.
Remarks by Simone Kaslowski:
On the 50th Anniversary of TÜSİAD:
“This year we will celebrate our 50th anniversary as an organization – we are half the age of the Republic. The period in which we were founded was a time of crisis for Turkey. Mustafa Koç, whose absence we feel greatly, delivered a speech on our organization’s fortieth anniversary in which he explained TÜSİAD’s mission as follows: “This association was first founded with the primary goal of better conveying to Ankara the role of the private sector, particularly the industrial sector, in Turkey’s development. Of course, we moved beyond this goal very quickly. We express our views on topics such as the economy, politics, and social issues, and, in doing this, we become a party to those particular issues. We evaluate which positions we view as the most beneficial to the country and speak on them accordingly. The majority of the time, we identify alternative solutions and visions and put them forward… We are not advocates of positions, but of issues.” Since our founding in 1971, we have always acted with this understanding of our role in addressing issues concerning the development and progress of our society.
“Many important events have taken place in TÜSİAD’s fifty-year journey. It was in the twentieth year of our organization that we witnessed the dissolution of the Soviet Union. I think we were perhaps ahead among institutions in terms of grasping the full meaning of this development. The demise of the Soviet Union ushered in an entirely new global era, in which we emphasized Turkey would not achieve the position it deserved if it could not keep up. We stated these thoughts frequently. We repeated tirelessly how vital it is for Turkey to expand the rights and freedoms of its citizens in this new era.
“In our thirtieth year, we experienced the most severe economic crisis to date in the history of the Republic. Many in Turkey spent this time insisting on adhering to the old model of the 1990’s. The politicians of the period did not want to alter the system in which they felt most comfortable. Despite all of the warning signs, they refused to accept that the old ways could not continue. This approach made the crisis inevitable.
“In our fortieth year, the world was still recovering from the shocks of the 2008 crisis. The European Union accession process, which had been one of the driving forces for Turkey’s growth, had slowed and enthusiasm in Turkey was fading. The members of the European Union had not stood by their words, and it looked like a transactional relationship had was emerging. Subsequently, 2011 was also a year of the Arab uprisings, fostering hopes around the world for transformation in the Middle East. These movements led people to believe in the establishment of a new order in the region, and it was hoped that a secular and democratic Turkey would serve as a model.
“And now the 50th anniversary of TÜSİAD coincides with a multifaceted global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the destructive effects of climate change. Nevertheless, thanks to scientists, the development of vaccines will allow for a rapid recovery from global recession. 2021 begins with signs of economic growth.
“Clearly, a new world order is emerging. The building blocks of the next decade will be set in 2021. Turkey needs to properly assess the risks and opportunities of this historic moment. We are contending with inflationist pressures that have increased due to credit fueled growth during the pandemic, a vast unemployment problem and exchange and interest rates that are at the highest levels.”
On the economy:
“Unemployment is threatening our future. On top of this, the easy financing conditions of the past decade are coming to an end. Our reserves have dwindled. The government, under these conditions, tried to encourage markets with a new economic program. We support this effort. The creditability and effectiveness of the program, however, will depend on communicating concrete steps and clear targets. Ultimately, the most essential aspect of any reform program is accountability.
“We believe that for us to return to sustainable levels of growth, the structural reform program must be implemented. Otherwise, it will be impossible to resolve the fundamental problems of decreasing purchasing power due to unemployment, higher inflation, and financing growth. We need to restore confidence in the Turkish lira, or it will be even more difficult to emerge from this crisis. The weak lira exposes us even more to external shocks. And we must be even more cognizant about maintaining a balanced budget.
“The success of any economic program depends on the dependability of the justice system, rule of law, the level of respect for human rights, the competence of institutions and the quality of the education system, as much as it does on the technical aspects of policy making. It is essential that the education provided is suitable to the requirements of the modern era, and that it offers young people an opportunity to find quality work. Also of critical importance, is the autonomy of universities, scientific capacity, and education in an environment that preserves freedom of thought and freedom of debate.”
On the Istanbul Convention:
“I would like to reiterate that the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention – a convention that is named for our city, that is signed by all members of the European Council – should be reversed.
On institutions, transparency, accountability…
“The precondition for development is stability. Not only political stability but institutional stability. In the last two and a half years, the President of the Turkish Statistical Institute has been replaced four times and the Governor of the Central Bank has been replaced three times. In democratic countries where rule of law prevails, public servants are appointed and removed at the discretion of the executive branch by powers granted by the legislature – as it should be. However, these appointments need to be administered transparently and with accountability for the proper functioning of a market economy.
“We believe that for an economy to function properly, transparency, accountability, a rules-based order, institutional autonomy, pluralism, free exchange of views and seeking consensus are required and we will continue to make that case.”
On climate change:
“Our country is in a region that is most impacted by climate change; and so a green transformation is not a choice, but a necessity. We must seek out permanent solutions to problems surrounding our environment, society and economic sustainability. We hope that 2021 will be the year that Turkey approves the Paris Climate Accord.”
On foreign policy and EU accession:
“After last week’s summit, the European Council, which has been unable to define its relationship with Turkey and opted to delay its decision to impose sanctions in order to align with the position of the United States, released its statement. I will share my views on what they said about Turkey with you shortly. But first, I want to underline a point:
“As it has over the last several years, the EU again refrained from referring to Turkey’s status as a candidate country. The statement demonstrated that they view Turkey as a neighbor capable of creating problems or a competitor, which will be rewarded if it acts in ways which are beneficial to the EU, and otherwise will be sanctioned. We find this unacceptable. Turkey’s EU accession process was derailed by the actions of some EU member states that committed to blocking this process as soon as negotiations began, as much as it was caused by the regression in Turkey’s democratic standards. We are institutional witnesses to those developments.
“However, we believe that this situation is not definite, and that history, geography, and the new balance of power in the world will soon alter this situation. Therefore, we have not given up on the goal of membership.
“Once Turkey and the EU overcome their current identity crises they will want to establish their relations on a different path. We believe that we must closely follow the renewed relationship model between the U.S. and the EU being developed by the Biden administration. The restructuring of the transatlantic relationship should facilitate a better understanding between Turkey, the EU and EU member states. An important indicator of Turkey’s contribution to world peace and transatlantic relations is seen in the U.S. request for Turkey to host negotiations in Afghanistan.
“In spite of the conditional nature, it is still positive that the European Council’s statement outlines the possibility of a “positive agenda” with Turkey moving forward. We will closely follow this possibility, both domestically and in the EU. If Turkey, its institutions and especially its judiciary adhere to what President Erdoğan said last week, that “we see our future in Europe,” Turkey would be aligned with the requirements of the positive agenda. Sincere actions on the part of both Turkey and the EU to modernize the Customs Union, resolve the differences in defining terrorism, and fully implement visa waivers would certainly play an important role in the progress of relations.
“NATO membership has provided Turkey a very powerful security umbrella and has afforded it the opportunity to build its military strength. Similarly, joining the European Union would afford it the opportunity to be among the most developed economies and democracies. That is why we can never accept downgrading Turkey – EU relations to a simple transactional understanding.
“Regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, it is not surprising that the European Union has shown solidarity with its members, Greece and Cyprus, similar to the way in which it supported the Republic of Ireland during Brexit. However, it is surprising and unacceptable to forget that it was the Greek Cypriots that rejected the Annan Plan for reunification; that promises to Turkish Cypriots on direct trade were not kept; or to appear as if they are not an interested party on issues relating to Cyprus and energy.”
The choices before us:
“The protection of sovereignty and the pursuit of autonomous foreign policy does not conflict with membership in alliances. The choices before us will determine Turkey’s place in the 21stcentury: Diplomatic flexibility and constructivism versus conflict; secularism and science versus superstition; principles of freedom versus repression; protecting the environment versus spoiling it; recognizing the equality of women versus condemning them into second class citizenship; pluralism versus majoritarianism; citizens versus subjects; rule of law and freedom of expression versus oppression; democracy versus autocracy… These are the choices we must make to determine how we will live in our country and in this world.”
The President of the High Advisory Council Tuncay Özilhan echoed these remarks:
Remarks by Tuncay Özilhan:
“Just as before, over the next 50 years, TÜSİAD will continue to fulfill its responsibilities, share its research, policy recommendations, and findings to support the principles of rule of law, secularism, and the market economy.
On economic reforms:
“When investors are unable to establish confidence, long-term investment decisions cannot be made. Investors want predictability. This requires regulations that do not change frequently. The secret of long-term investment is stability and trust.
“Turkey should devote its public resources to more productive outlets and utilize them to their full extent. Rather than making unnecessary expenditures, every penny should be devoted to enriching production, industry, agriculture, education, and scientific and human development. The distribution of public resources should be carried out in accordance with competitive market principles.
“Our chronic problem is the high volatility of the Lira. If one of the reasons for the depreciation of the Lira is low capacity to generate foreign currency income, another reason is uncertainty and insecurity regarding the future. As the problem worsens, attempting to protect the value of the Lira by selling foreign currency reserves only works for a short time. In order for this problem to not repeat itself, the economic structure should be reformed, foreign currency income should be increased, and economic management should work to provide confidence.
“The common issues behind these problems are inefficiencies in our economic structure, the inability to attract foreign currency, difficulty in creating jobs, and the inability to produce high-tech products.
On gender equality:
“For many years, Turkey has worked to address one of the biggest issues facing society: gender inequality. Even as one of the first countries to grant women’s suffrage and despite many measures taken so far, women in some ways remain secondary in economic, social, and political spheres. It is our opinion that the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is not conducive to efforts to end violence against women.
On foreign policy:
“Turkey’s foreign policy should be developed in line with the values of contemporary society, long-term interests, and institutionalism to maintain confidence and stability.”
“We must show determination to protect and expand our democracy – this is how we can overcome polarization in our society. We view democratic freedoms and secularism as what binds us together, ensuring our unity and solidarity. The justice system is the one area in which there should not be even the slightest question. Adherence to the principles of human rights, separation of powers, the rule of law, equality before the law, and judicial independence is indispensable. Like economic reforms, judicial reforms are necessary. However, the judicial reforms announced so far have not brought us closer to the principles of rule of law and the democratic standards that we need. Ethical principles and the spirit of democracy should be internalized by all decision makers, from the executive, the legislature, and to the judiciary.”
Simone Kaslowski Re-Elected TÜSİAD President – March 30, 2021
The General Assembly of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) convened in Istanbul yesterday (March 30, 2021) and elected a Board of Directors.
Simone Kaslowski was re-elected President of TÜSİAD. Murat Özyeğin, Mehmet Tara and Bahadır Balkır were also re-elected Vice Presidents. Tuncay Özilhan has been re-elected President of the High Advisory Council of TÜSİAD.
The members of the Board of Directors and High Advisory Council are as follows:
TÜSİAD Board of Directors (2021):
- SİMONE KASLOWSKİ, President
- MURAT ÖZYEĞİN, Vice President
- Board Member in charge of Parliamentary and Government Relations
- Chair of Energy and Environment Roundtable
- MEHMET TARA, Vice President, Treasurer
- Board Member in charge of Membership Relations
- BAHADIR BALKIR, Vice President
- Chair of Industrial Policies Roundtable
- BARIŞ ORAN, Board Member
- Chair of Economy & Finance Roundtable
- BATU AKSOY, Board Member
- Chair of the Development Policies Roundtable
- FATİH KEMAL EBİÇLİOĞLU, Board Member
- Investment Environment Roundtable Chair
- İREM ORAL KAYACIK, Board Member
- Chair of Entrepreneurship and Youth Roundtable
- NÜKET KÜÇÜKEL EZBERCİ, Board Member
- Chair of the Social Policy Roundtable
- ÖNDER SEZGİ, Board Member
- Co-Chair of the Parliamentary and Government Relations Roundtable
- SERKAN SEVİM, Board Member
- Chair of the Digital Turkey Roundtable
- B. CAN YÜCAOĞLU, Board Member
- Chair of Global Relations and EU Roundtable
- EBRU DİCLE, Board Member
- Secretary General
Alternate Members of the TÜSİAD Board of Directors (2021)
İZEL LEVİ COŞKUN
TÜSİAD HIGH ADVISORY COUNCIL (2021-2022):
TUNCAY ÖZİLHAN, President
ÖMER M. KOÇ, Vice President
ARZUHAN DOĞAN YALÇINDAĞ, Vice President
N. ÜMİT BOYNER, Vice President
ÖMER ARAS, Vice President
AGAH UĞUR, Member
TAYFUN BAYAZIT, Member
Full text of speeches and video (In Turkish): https://tusiad.org/tr/basin-bultenleri/item/10743-tusi-ad-olagan-genel-kurul-toplantisi-bugun-duzenlendi