DEİK is set for public relations campaign
The Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) has launched a public relations campaign; its message in a promotional video, in which 27 members of the DEİK board feature, including Ali Kibar, Fuat Tosyalı, Ali Koç and Abdurrahman Kaan, is: “We are stronger with diversity.”
In the 1980’s when Turkey embraced free market economy, it at the same time was being introduced to exports. Then President Turgut Özal supported the idea of founding the DEİK. The aim was to help Turkish businesspeople do business in the countries that were difficult for them to enter alone and also establish a body that would serve as an interlocutor for foreign delegations visiting Turkey.
DEİK was established in 1987 under the roof of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB). Today, it is a business organization active in 13 countries with 144 business councils. Since its inception, there have been discussions as to how DEİK would become more efficient and who would be in charge. Two years ago, it was decided that DEİK would operate under the roof of the Economy Ministry and its head would be appointed by the same ministry.
No one can get in the way
DEİK has been going through a restriction for some time. Its new head, Nail Olpak, has set the target as turning DEİK into a more effective organization and promote DEİK among the public. Recently, the new heads of business councils were elected. A promotional video has been aired on TV channels and online for some time. In the video 27 members of the DEİK board, including Ali Koç, Fuat Tosyalı, Ali Kibar and Zeynep Bodur, are talking about DEİK. The main theme of the video is “being strong with diversity.” Different businesspeople sent out the message that “even we are different, even we reach the same point by following different routes, we are still aware that no one can get in our way if we work in harmony. That is why we are all similar when we are all different from each other.”
Power from within
I met with Olpak to talk about their message and what their target is. Olpak first stressed that DEİK is not a mission group like the Turkish Business and Industry Association (TÜSİAD) or the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association (MÜSİAD). “Those groups inevitably represent a particular world view. DEİK does not have it structurally.” Olpak, however, noted that people do not know much about DEİK and there are problems with people’s perception of DEİK. “DEİK’s strength comes from its diversity. Its founders are key businesspeople. You cannot ignore Feyyaz Berker and Mustafa Koç. You cannot keep those treasuries in the safe. Today we have people like Tuncay Özilhan, Güler Sabancı, Fuat Tosyalı, Cemal Kalyoncu, and Abdurrahman Kaan on our board. They have different world and political views. But there is synergy among them,” he said.
Time will tell
DEİK has got to work by utilizing this power. For the next steps, Olpak said “we want to use this power. We will increase the number of members to 5,000 from 3,000 in order to reflect this diversity. The target is to become a platform that creates ideas by using this power that creates the Turkish economy. We want to find solutions, not talk about problems.”
As Olpak said, what Turkey needs is coming together with all the differences, not fights, not polarization. The steps DEİK has taken are significant. According to the latest regulations, the appointment of DEİK heads depends on the decisions taken by the Economy Ministry.
Will Olpak be among those businessmen who President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would invite to join the cabinet after the elections? Erdoğan described those businessmen as “wrestlers” (pehlivan in Turkish). Olpak apparently is more preoccupied with raising awareness among the public regarding DEİK until the general assembly meeting in 2019. Will he remain in office until then? Only time will tell.