Brussels is Turkey’s second capital city, says top boss
Güven Özalp BRUSSELS
'We, as Turkish people, cannot ignore what happens in Brussels,' Turkish Industrial and Business Association (TÜSİAD) head Haluk Dinçer says.Brussels is Turkey’s second capital, but the country suffers a "perception problem" there, the chairman of the Turkish Industrial and Business Association (TÜSİAD) has said, after his two-day visit with other TÜSİAD representatives to the European capital.
“European norms, standards, policies and other rules about doing business are determined in Brussels. What is happening in this capital should be followed very carefully. We, as Turkish people, cannot ignore what happens in Brussels,” Haluk Dinçer told daily Hürriyet.
Dinçcer noted that the TÜSİAD delegation observed a "serious perception problem" about Turkey in Brussels.
“We have things that deserve to be criticized, of course. But even when we speak about the positive moves of the Turkish government on the road to realizing Turkey’s membership to the EU, we face questioning reactions from our European counterparts. The positive moves have not been seen yet, but we hope they will be,” he said.
“The reform process needs to be started again,” Dinçer said, adding that Turkey had retreated from some important moves, especially in basic rights and liberties.
He also said any cancelation of the customs union between Turkey and the EU as a reaction to the planned free trade deal between the United States and the EU could herald the end of Turkey’s EU membership process.
“As TÜSİAD members, we agree that the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership [TTIP] is a huge threat for the Turkish economy as long as Turkey isn't part of it. The potential cancelation of the customs union means, however, the termination of Turkey’s membership process with the EU. It is not possible for TÜSİAD to accept this,” he said.
Turkey could freeze its customs agreement with the EU if the trade deal between the bloc and the U.S. goes ahead, Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkır said in November.
Turkey, an EU candidate country, has had a customs union with the bloc since the 1990s and politicians are worried that the transatlantic free trade deal, poised to be one of the biggest such deals in the world, could threaten Turkey’s trading position.
A similar free trade agreement between the EU and non-member third parties negatively affected the Turkish economy in the past, TÜSİAD head Dinçer said, but being left out of the TTIP would be different.
“Turkey succeeded in overcoming the negative effects of such deals, but the results of the planned TTIP will be too big to overcome. So we understand the government’s reaction to this agreement very well,” he added.