EU should understand threat of terror to Turkey: TÜSİAD
AA photoCansen Başaran-Symes, the head of the Turkish Industry and Business Organization (TÜSİAD), a leading business group, has called on European leaders to understand the terrorism risks that Turkey is facing, while also highlighting the importance of freedom of speech.
Commenting on the recent rift between Brussels and Ankara over a recent deal on visa freedom for Turkish citizens in exchange for Turkey’s readmission of refugees, Başaran-Symes said TÜSİAD wished that the problem would not lead to a broader cutting of relations between the two sides.
“The EU should raise expectations that would hamper the struggle against terrorism,” she said, speaking at TÜSİAD’s high advisory board meeting in Istanbul on May 12.
Ankara says it has fulfilled the 72 criteria by EU for the visa-free travel deal, but the bloc insists for a shift in Turkey’s anti-terror code, which Ankara says will not change.
Başaran-Symes also praised the government’s efforts to take immediate steps for visa liberation with the EU, while noting that her organization remains in favor of normalizing relations between Ankara and Moscow through dialogue.
“It is seen that there is a need for a new evaluation in Turkey’s foreign policy. We have to take a series of steps by preserving our EU membership perspective and relations should be managed with respect,” she said.
The TÜSİAD head also touched on the sensitive issue of secularism, which recently became subject of political debate, saying that “the fact that there were some problems in the implementation of secularism in the past does not legitimize debate about the principle of secularism itself.”
Başaran-Symes stressed that her group attaches great importance freedom of speech and the right to hold demonstrations, saying it is in favor of “a Turkey that is not afraid of freedom of speech and has self-confidence.”
Meanwhile, the head of TÜSİAD’s high advisory board, Tuncay Özilhan, said growing pessimism inside and outside the country had created economic vulnerabilities, stating that issue of terrorism was now at the top of Turkey’s agenda.
“A solution should now be found for unproductive political conflicts. The terrorism issue is another thing, and seeing continuous news reports about deaths of officials hurts our feelings. We are exhausted. This is a call to all parties: Today is a day for unity. We have to find a solution to problems resolutely. Without saying so, nothing will happen. We will continue to say what we know and what we believe,” Özilhan said.
He also added that the “healthy functioning of the democratic system” is more important than which names take their place in the cabinet, amid political uncertainty over who will succeed Ahmet Davutoğlu as prime minister.