Political ambitions put Turkey’s future at risk: Top boss

Political ambitions put Turkey’s future at risk: Top boss

Sefer Levent - ISTANBUL
Political ambitions put Turkey’s future at risk: Top boss High political ambitions should not put Turkey’s future into danger and businesspeople who enable the country to progress should no longer be hindered, according to the head of Turkey’s top business organization.

“Political ambitions should not put Turkey’s future at risk. As businesspeople, we have seen this very clearly. Turkey saw various examples of political irresponsibility in the past, but the economy was a closed economy then. Now Turkey’s economy is quite integrated into the world economy, so any political irresponsibility will cause heavier costs to the country than it did before,” said the chair of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), Cansen Başaran-Symes. 

She noted that all should thank the people who made crucial reforms over the last decade in Turkey. 

“We have, however, entered a different period which requires bigger responsibilities now. Turkey has a very strong private sector. Despite what has happened recently, Turkey’s private sector has played a crucial role … The private sector is composed of many businesspeople who really love their country. The sector boldly opposes all risks around. As TÜSİAD members, we refrain from any comments that may be manipulated and we try not to lose our motivation by considering our responsibility in Turkey. We all say that Turkey’s businesspeople and institutions that enable our country to progress should not be eroded anymore. Any polarization between the people or institutions must be avoided,” she said.

She noted that alarming signals were evident in the economy and that the business world expected politicians to better read this picture and rapidly compose their programs accordingly. 

“As TÜSİAD members, we’re ready to do what is needed,” she said. 

Amid a long election cycle, TÜSİAD members have visited politicians from time to time to voice their concerns about the deteriorating global economic conditions and to make offers in terms of making reforms, she said. 

Economic risks on the rise

“Just after the June elections, we met the leading cadres of all the leading political parties in Ankara. We voiced the urgent need for the establishment of a new government as soon as possible and for refocusing on reforms. We said Turkey would face tougher global conditions unless such steps were taken as it has become more difficult to find money in global markets. We have been on rising waters, but we are losing time by discussing who will lead the ship rather than making the required preparations to protect our country. We have all forgotten that we’re all on the same ship,” she said, adding that Turkey has become a riskier country for investors to be in amid rising risk premiums, a loss in the Turkish Lira’s value and an erosion in economic confidence. 

Başaran-Symes said Turkey had shown significant progress after the 2001 economic crisis through a number of key reforms in democratic life and in the economy on the road to membership in the European Union. 

“We all knew we were on the right track, although there were still miles to drive. This promising trend and a successful picture of Turkey have recently started to corrode despite all the warnings. Social polarization has peaked since before the June elections. The latest attacks on members of the press and outlets have signaled a problematic structure. Persons and institutions are run down by some circles, being turned into targets to attack … Such things are unfortunately becoming normal. At the same time, we have seen an escalation of violence by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is quite worrying,” she said. “We don’t just need a new Turkey story, we also need a new understanding which reads the deteriorating picture very carefully, prioritizes institutions and institutionalization, puts people at the center and secures the rule of law.”

She noted that the new government, a majority cabinet or a coalition cabinet must focus on making the required structural reforms. 

“We are still at the point of compensating our losses in the economy, and we still have strength. Our warnings are to urge the required steps to avoid any permanent damage. We cannot, however, accept the loss of our gains by saying ‘our economy is strong and we have fiscal discipline,’” she said.

“TÜSİAD always underlines that democratic principles, the freedom of expression and the rule of law are a must for Turkey, as well as a sustainable and strong economy, as it is not possible to maintain economic progress without ensuring progress in these fields. We believe a ‘well-governed’ Turkey will be able to realize its true potential,” she said.