‘Lend an ear to voices from Tahrir, Wall Street’

‘Lend an ear to voices from Tahrir, Wall Street’

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Lend an ear to voices from Tahrir, Wall Street’

TOBB head Hisarcıklıoğlu (L) receives a book on Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, as a present after his speech at the Partners for a New Beginning meeting in Istanbul. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The world is going through significant changes during which both Western and Eastern countries face political and economic crises, according to the head of Turkey’s business chambers who calls for more attention to protestors’ voices in Tahrir and Wall Street.

“The cards are being shuffled and a new world is being established,” said Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, head of Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB), at the Turkey chapter meeting of the Partners for a New Beginning (PNB) in Istanbul.

Urging European countries to make a decision on how to solve the ongoing economic crisis, Hisarcıklığlu said, “Greece was downgraded first in December 2009 and the crisis evolved into a debt and banking crisis first and into political crisis later.”

The transformation in North Africa and the Middle East should also be established in the economic structuring field, he said, naming the changes as “the rise of the rest” in an open reference to Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International.

The total trade volume of the world rose to $62 trillion last year from $22 trillion in 1990, said Hisarcıklıoğlu. “Despite the rise, the number of the least developed countries rose to 48 last year from 21 in 1971. Unfortunately, the richer became richer while the poor became poorer.”

The cooperation among Muslim countries should be stronger in elevating the life conditions of the poor, he said. “Establishing Ankara Forum among Palestine, Israel and Turkey, we are aiming to found an industrial zone in Jenin, the largest town in the northern West Bank.”

Nearly 10,000 Palestinians will be employed in the zone once the project is completed, he said.

Closer bonds

“Democracy and good governance are in the interest of Muslim countries and also the U.S.,” said Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, secretary-general of Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during his speech at the meeting.

İhsanoğlu called the 57 member countries of OIC to forge “closer and constructive” partnership with the United States.

OIC has formed a human rights unit to promote human rights among the member countries, he said, adding that trade among the members has increased significantly. He said total gross domestic product of OIC member states rose to nearly $8 trillion by the end of last year, from $2 trillion in 2004, according to official data.

‘A new beginning’

In his 2009 address at Cairo University, U.S. President Barack Obama called for “a new beginning” in engagement between the U.S. and the Muslim world.

Inspired by the call, PNB has organized meetings in Algeria, Egypt, Palestine, Pakistan, Tunisia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey in the last two years.

PNB is an alliance to foster public-private partnership aimed at broadening and deepening engagement between the U.S. and local communities abroad, said Afzaal Malik, vice president of Global Public Affairs and Communications at the Coca-Cola Company, a PNB member. “We know that the golden triangle, cooperation between businesses, government and civil society, is important, and we are proud to be a part of that.”