Is Babacan staying or going?

Is Babacan staying or going?

Nobody can say we had a relaxed summer this year.

After the presidential election, we now have the snap Justice and Development Party (AKP) convention on Aug. 27 when the new leader and the prime minister will be elected. We will continue in the same tense tempo with another snap congress decision from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Foreign business circles in Istanbul are curious about the new Cabinet of the AKP, wondering whether or not the minister in charge of economy Ali Babacan will remain. Babacan, who has been leading the economy since 2002, is a known and reliable politician to domestic and international markets.

Hence, it should not be a surprise that a top executive in an international company – who recently returned back from holidays – was on the phone anxiously asking, “Is that true what I heard? Will Babacan not be in the new Cabinet?”

Babacan, no doubt, is a name that has been speculated a lot lately.

As a matter of fact, it is known that Babacan will be affected by the three-term rule of the AKP after the general elections. Also, he himself has frequently mentioned that he wants to end his political life and wishes to go back to business life.

However, both foreign circles here and international agencies and organizations have a high expectation that Babacan will keep his position until the general elections.

For example, in the World Economic Forum special summit scheduled for Sept. 28-29 in Istanbul, the Special Meeting on Unlocking Resources for Regional Development, Turkey’s most important participant will be Babacan.

Babacan has been participating in the WEF Davos meetings since 2002 and has always been the voice of Turkey with regard to EU membership and economic achievements.

Also, he has been participating in G20 meetings since 2002 and he is the most “veteran” minister there, together with Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister.

I have heard many times in international meetings how the economic achievements recorded during the AKP government were to a great extent due to Babacan and his team.

Secretary General of the OECD Angel Gurria mentioned Babacan several times as a “strong figure in economy” while chatting with journalists last February in the G20 summit in Sydney.

Babacan explained from where Turkey has come during a reception last week: “When I took office in 2002 as the state minister in charge of the treasury, the treasury was paying exactly 66 percent for loans. We have forgotten those days. We are now living in a period when we cannot even tolerate changes of 1 or 2 points in interest rates.”

There is also this aspect: Babacan is, at the same time, the voice of common sense.

In our conversation in Sydney, he said these words, which have become especially significant these days: “For our economy, these are indispensable prerequisites: A working democracy, targeting the best standards in fundamental rights and freedoms, an orderly market economy, the perception of accountability and a strong will in the fight against corruption. The shortage of even one of these would harm us.”