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GİLA BENMAYOR > Turkey’s coverage at Davos 2013

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The first question my friends and colleagues who phoned me after I returned from Davos where I attended the World Economic Forum was, “Was Turkey talked about this year?”

When I looked back at the five-day time span, my response is both “Yes” and “No.”

Let me start with “No” first.

When you take a look at the program of the World Economic Forum, then it is possible to see that there are no sessions about Turkey this year, in contrast with previous years.

In those years where Turkey’s European Union perspective was the topic, there would be at least two or three Turkey sessions in the WEF.

Similarly, I have not come across any names from the business world in the panels except for politicians. In previous years, I remember that the head of Doðuþ Group Ferit Þahenk or head of the executive committee of Hürriyet Gazetecilik Vuslat Doðan Sabancý would participate in several panels.

For a country to be scheduled to be solely debated in a panel, consequently makes that country a focus point.
For example this year we have listened, in abundance, to views of experts of Russia, Brazil, China and Japan.

Especially, it must be because of the concern that oil and natural gas incomes will fall because of the shale gas revolution in the United States, Russia which was after foreign investors in Davos was able to attract all the attention with Prime Minister Medvedev and almost half of the cabinet.

On the “Yes” side of the response, even though Turkey did not have any particular session allocated only to itself, it was frequently referred to in the sessions together with the Philippines, Mexico and Nigeria, the rising stars of economic growth.

Famous economist Nouriel Roubini referred to Turkey as the “shining economic power” in the session on the last day of the World Economic Forum, devoted to his 2013 economic anticipations.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoðlu and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan made a truly strong impression with their analyses in the sessions they participated.

The “Shared History” session where writer Elif Şafak, the CEO of Metropolitan Museum Thomas Campbell and Director of Alexandria Library Ismail Serageldin participated was watched with interest.

As a matter of fact, an Indian businessman who I met in the small minibus shuttles that ran between hotels and the Davos Congress Center explained with great enthusiasm how he came to adore Elif Şafak. He said as soon as he returned to London, where he lived, he would buy all of her English language books and read them all.

If we come to the main force of Turkey in Davos this year, my observation is that it was Turks working in international companies.

Really, it was this year that I have realized this at Davos, a place I have been attending for years.

Their numbers are quite high.

We already know the CEO of Coca Cola Muhtar Kent, one of the two presidents of WEF.

Kent is a very popular name in the world with his warm personality, sympathy and also his success in his job.

First names that come to mind are Ahmet Bozer, Coca Cola President responsible for Coca Cola’s Europe, Africa, Eurasia and Pacific operations, Western Union’s CEO Hikmet Ersek, managing money traffic of $70 billion, Murat Sönmez, the founding partner of Tibco, a provider of infrastructure software in Pala Alto at Silicon Valley.

I should also note that another Turk was frequently mentioned at Davos this year. He is businessman Fettah Tamince who bought one of the famous hotels of this small mountain resort, Flüela.

The person who was thrilled at Tamince’s purchase of Flüela and immediately changing the sign to Rixos was scientist Cezmi Akdiş who has been living in Davos for years with his wife.

Professor Akdiş is heading the world’s leading asthma and immunology institute.

January/29/2013

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