Turkish Deputy PM Babacan warns of ‘global impact’ of Syria, Iraq crises

Turkish Deputy PM Babacan warns of ‘global impact’ of Syria, Iraq crises

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
Turkish Deputy PM Babacan warns of ‘global impact’ of Syria, Iraq crises

Deputy PM Ali Babacan speaks during the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Istanbul, Sept. 29 AA Photo

Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has told a World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Istanbul that Turkey sees the importance of “networks for solidarity and cooperation” across the Middle East and North Africa, warning that the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria may have “global” spillover effects.

Delivering a wide-ranging speech on Sept. 28 at a WEF Special Meeting, Babacan said a major principle for Turkey in the region was to support the peaceful settlement of all disputes.

“In this geography multiculturalism is the key, as well as respecting differences and seeing diversity as richness, [something] that we have achieved for centuries,” he said.

“We are very hopeful for the future. That is why we have lifted visas and have signed free trade agreements with many countries in the region; we did so to allow an easier circulation of people goods and services … Turkey has certain principles whenever it approaches the region and we continue to respect those principles regardless of developments,” Babacan added.

Syria, Iraq crises may have ‘global’ affects

Upon a question on how the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq would affect the global economy, Babacan described the developments on Turkey’s southern borders as “one of the biggest geopolitical threats to the global economy and a long-term issue [to be solved].”

“[The crisis in] Syria and Iraq is a huge humanitarian problem that we are observing. Some 20,000 people are dead already. Iraq and neighboring countries are nations rich in natural resources, and problems with oil supplies or transportation routes could cause higher oil prices which will affect the global economy,” Babacan said.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) launched an offensive in mid-September, capturing large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria and declaring what it calls a cross-border Islamic “caliphate,” killing thousands and displacing millions in the two countries.

It has posted graphic online videos of mass executions, as well as the beheading of Western hostages. Additionally, ISIL has already captured a number of oil-producing areas in northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, pointing out that Turkey has undergone a major economic and political transformation in the last 12 years, Babacan stressed that the accession process to the European Union had helped Turkey with this reform process.

“Accession to the EU increased the quality of democracy and the practice of human rights in Turkey. The EU criteria acted as a guide to further reform,” he said, hailing the EU as “an important 20th and 21th century project for civilization.”

“But still, we have a lot to do. We need to improve the quality of democracy, to make sure that fundamental rights and freedoms are even more widely practiced and to ensure that Turkey sees real rule of law,” Babacan added.

Balancing growth

Touching on unemployment figures, Babacan claimed that over million Turks had found work between June 2013 and 2014, and he emphasized that the government offers incentives to employers that hire young people and women.   

The deputy prime minister also noted that while Turkey’s growth rates in recent years have been impressive, consumption should be in line with earnings.

“Growth is coming both from domestic consumption and exports ... For the next year, 6 to 7 percent growth would be easy for us, but it’s also risky. So we want to keep growth slow,” he said.