Successful Turks I came across in Davos
For the last couple of years, I have had a bitter taste in my mouth while returning from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, worrying about Turkey.
Those times when Turkey was treated as the “rising star” in the Davos sessions have been very much left behind.
Davos has become a platform where creativity has been prioritized in the last couple of years. For example, Dutch artist-designer Daan Roosegaarde opened the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path last year on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s death.
While you are riding your bicycle on the path he built with colorful and illuminated stones you have a feeling as if you are riding on top of one of Van Gogh’s masterpieces.
When I asked the young designer why he was not coming to Istanbul, he told me that he was in contact with the Istanbul Greater Municipality for a bicycle path.
I wish we see the young Dutch artist in Istanbul very soon.
I feel the need to highlight two things that made me worry in the name of Turkey in Davos this year.
While Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu delivered his speech on the vision of Turkey’s G-20 presidency, almost two-thirds of the hall at the Congress Center was empty.
Unfortunately, Davutoğlu was not able to attract as much of an audience as Egyptian President Abdel el-Sisi or Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in office since last September.
When you come to think that more than 2,500 people attended the WEF in Davos this year, it is an unpleasant situation for the Turkish Prime Minister to talk to an empty hall.
My second source of worry was that among the G-20 working groups representing the Turkish business world in Davos, the “anti-corruption” group did not have a leader, in other words it was not supported.
Fighting corruption is among the most important topics Turkey will tackle during its G-20 presidency, maybe the most important.
Turkey has made a commitment, as the G-20 president, to implement an “anti-corruption” plan.
When it comes to what made me happy in Davos this year, the achievements of two Turks top the list.
One of them is Murat Sönmez, who I met in Davos a few years ago. Sönmez has spent 25 years in Silicon Valley and is one of the founders of a software company called Tibco. When I first met him, he had come to Davos representing Tibco.
However, during the past summer he was transferred to the WEF, which was looking for a person who knew both the technological world and the business world very well.
Sönmez is on the executive committee of the WEF, in charge of important technologic infrastructure projects for the forum, which wants to keep pace with the transformation of the “digital economy.”
The other name is outside the World Economic Forum: Professor Cezmi Akdiş, who has lived in Davos for years and heads a very important allergy and immunology institute.
Whenever I attend the WEF in Davos, I always meet Professor Akdiş and his wife Mübeccel Akdiş, who is a researcher at the same institute.
This time we met for breakfast in the town of Monstein, 10 kilometers away from Davos, at a 17th-century log house. Professor Akdiş told me he has become the editor-in-chief of the prestigious allergy magazine printed in the U.S. called “The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI).”
This position was given to a scientist living in Europe for the first time.