TÜSİAD President at High Advisory Council calls for reforms


The President of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Erol Bilecik delivered opening remarks at the High Advisory Council meeting, which convened this morning in Ankara. 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. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and key members of the Cabinet were also in attendance.

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

Below are excerpts of his remarks in English:

  • “We need economic reforms that support consistent and productive growth, that increase competitiveness and welfare; a modern understanding of education; a foreign policy that comprehends the importance of global integration; a justice system that adheres to universal norms; and a country that improves in combatting corruption.”
  • “We want strong rule of law where justice is provided to everyone. We want an environment of freedom where everyone can express themselves without fear. The smallest injustice should be regarded as an injustice against society. For this reason, we must ‘make what is just strong, or what is strong just.’”
  • “Recently we appear to be isolationist and confrontational in our foreign policy. Domestically, our legal system and judiciary have created cause for concern and suspicion. Unfortunately, the state of emergency has worsened this situation. Twenty-first century Turkey should not be a country that is known for imprisoned journalists, politicians, academics and representatives of civil society.”
  • “We must reestablish diplomatic channels and restart dialogue with our allies and with other nations. I would like to reiterate that compromise is never a defeat.”
  • “On the issue of balancing freedoms and security, to continuously prioritize security concerns over the other is an inadequate approach. Recognizing that security and freedoms are not contradictory but complementary is crucial for Turkey’s national interests and global competitiveness.”
  • “Every improvement in this area will be favorably received by economic actors, both domestic and foreign. TÜSİAD, and all business associations, stand with our government in combatting terrorism. I want to reiterate my belief that it is necessary for Turkey to revise the implementation of the state of emergency and quickly normalize, without making any concessions on counter-terrorism efforts.”
  • “It is necessary to revisit the issue of the Kurdish opening. Turkey will strengthen and improve in prestige to the extent that it resolves the issues of justice, equality, and freedoms. The horror and fear of terrorism should not cause us to forget that the Kurdish issue is a question of citizenship, law, and democracy.”
  • “It is not possible to leap forward in economic, human, or social progress without including women, who make up half of our society.”
  • “TÜSİAD continues to promote policies on the digital transformation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, innovation and sustainability.”

In his remarks, Bilecik reiterated the importance of reinvigorating the EU accession process and the modernization of the Customs Union.

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

  • “Turkey’s most important economic problem will be neither interest rates nor the current account deficit; the most important economic problem will be education.”
  • “The increase in the growth rate and exports in the last quarter of the past year is welcome news. On the other hand we are concerned with high inflation; the devaluation of our currency; the growing current account deficit; increases in public spending and fiscal imbalance; tax increases; decreasing capital inflows; declining investments; lack of confidence; open positions of the private sector; and the rise in loan to deposit ratios. If steps are not taken against these problems they will accumulate and cause trouble.”
  • The foundations of a liberal market economy are democracy and rule of law. The independence and impartiality of the judiciary, freedom of thought and expression, a free and scholarly academic environment, a free media and internet, well defined authority and responsibilities, and merit-based public administration are important parameters of a country’s competitiveness. A retreat from democratic norms reduces foreign and domestic appetite for investment and diminishes creativity and entrepreneurship. For this reason, we hope for a return to normal order as soon as possible. The gains from normalization will be extremely high. As Turkey develops on the path of democracy and rule of law it will gain strength, its economy will grow, and the prosperity and satisfaction of its citizens will increase. Another condition of democracy and rule of law is that everyone is equal under the law.”

For more information:

  • Full text of the speech by TÜSİAD President Erol Bilecik (in Turkish)
  • Full text of the speech by TÜSİAD High Advisory Council President Tuncay Özilhan (in Turkish)