Bosses see Turkey’s image abroad as ‘weakest link’
Güneş Kömürcüler - ISTANBULThe Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) has prepared a detailed action plan to improve the country’s worsening perception abroad as well as accelerating business activities at home after the failed July 15 coup attempt, said the head of the association, Nail Olpak.
“We have not seen any problems with economic activities, as all banks and bourses were open on the first Monday after the coup attempt on July 15. This is a huge success. Our worsening perception abroad constitutes our weakest link now and we are about to start a comprehensive image-building campaign along with other business organizations,” he said in a meeting with a group of journalists on Aug. 10.
Olpak said the campaign would operate under the auspices of the Economy Ministry with the participation of foreign senior executives who work and live in Turkey.
Olpak said Turkey had passed a key test of democracy with the coup attempt, but this had unfortunately not been reflected abroad as it should.
“If last week’s Yenikapı Meeting, at which millions of people attended from different political views and lifestyles to praise democracy, was reflected as President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s rally in many foreign media outlets, we have a really serious problem,” he said, adding that the country had shown an incredible reflex proving the urgent need for normalization in life after a real shock.
“For the first time in a long period, we have reached a great chance to come together and praise our democratic life, consolidated together,” said Olpak, recalling an urgent meeting that was staged with 12 business organizations on July 18, the first Monday after the coup attempt.
A number of leading Turkish business organizations underlined the significance of the national will and democratic values in the wake of the July 15 failed coup attempt in a joint declaration on July 18, vowing to make investments.
Another leading business organization, the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), has begun a global campaign and placed an advertisement underlining the country’s devotion to democracy and the strength of the Turkish economy in a number of leading papers in the United States, Germany, France and Britain following the failed coup attempt.
Olpak noted that a number of economic organizations would start another global campaign covering 24 foreign countries to explain the realities about Turkey, adding that Denmark would be the first country to be visited, without giving further details.
Global image-building campaign starts
On Aug. 11, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported that a senior-level business delegation visited Denmark under the leadership of Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci.
The delegation was comprised of high-level representatives from MÜSİAD, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), the Turkish Exporters Assembly, Borsa Istanbul, the Turkey-Denmark Business Council and deputies from all political parties that are present in parliament, according to the report.
The delegation’s aim is to exchange views about the latest economic developments, especially after the coup attempt, to create new areas of cooperation and to give messages about Turkey’s current situation to its counterparts, governments, business circles and media outlets, it added.
Olpak also said MÜSİAD would accelerate its foreign lobbying and PR works in 169 connection points in 65 countries and would open new offices in at least 10 new countries.
Accelerating business activities
“Another priority of ours is to speed up our business activities in the new era…We have not canceled any events, visits or orders. In our meeting with government actors, we have even called for the use of the state of emergency as a chance to boost incentives and to make the required reforms,” he said.
Asked whether the association was examining itself to see if any of its members were from the Gülenist movement, Olpak said: “Yes, there are…It would be impossible if there was not. We have been executing a thorough process to examine who they are and cease their membership if we are sure they are a member of that organization. In this process, any innocent people should not be tagged as a member of this organization. Some lists are swirling around and most probably there are some names on these lists, although they are not members of FETÖ [Fethullist Terror Organization]. Such examination processes must be undertaken very carefully so as not to ruin any innocent people’s reputation.”