Europe a reference point for Turkey: Deputy PM Şimşek

Europe a reference point for Turkey: Deputy PM Şimşek

Europe a reference point for Turkey: Deputy PM Şimşek

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Turkey’s EU accession process is of critical import in improving the quality of institutions and democratic standards in the country, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek has said.

“What we mean here is not only about becoming a member of a club. There have recently been many discussions about this subject. Europe is actually a reference for us. We want to move forward our democratic standards. We want to improve the rule of law and the quality of our institutions. Europe has advanced standards in this regard,” he said, adding that Turkey’s negotiations with the European Union needed to be considered in this vein. 

“These standards can of course be reached without Europe, but having a reference matters a lot,” he said.

Şimşek made the comments in a speech at the Anatolian Lions Business Association (ASKON) on Nov. 10, as reported by Anadolu Agency. 

On Nov. 9, Ankara reacted angrily to a harsh progress report by the European Commission on Turkey, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urging the EU to make up its mind on Turkey’s accession bid immediately and decisively.

“They shamelessly say that Turkey’s EU negotiations should be reviewed. You are already late. Reassess it, but do not delay in reassessing it. Make your final decision,” Erdoğan said. 

Şimşek also said that if Turkey had not faced any problems in the tourism sector over the year, it would have grown by over 4 percent, adding that the average growth could hit 5 percent again if Turkey sticks to its reform agenda. 

“Turkey has grown in an unhindered manner for the last 27 quarters … We have projected at around 3 percent of growth for this year, which is comparatively lower than we posted in previous years. One of the main reasons behind this is a visible slowdown in our tourism sector,” he said.

Turkey’s tourism sector has been seriously hit due to terror attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as the July 15 coup attempt, he said.

“This has pushed down our economic growth by around 1 and 2 percentage points … If our tourism sector had not faced such big shocks, our economy would have grown over 4 percent this year rather than around 3 percent,” said Şimşek. 

According to Şimşek, Turkey could return to a high growth track again if it implements a series of key reforms. 

“Our aim is to enable our economy to grow at higher rates again, to push down the inflation rate and the current account deficit, and to raise Turkey’s competitiveness, employment and productivity. If we can succeed in implementing our medium-term reforms in a determined and rapid manner and some key uncertainties both within and around Turkey can be eased, Turkey will see growth rates of over 5 percent again. This seems to be a bit ambitious, but also shows how it’s possible to make reforms,” he added.