Turkey is not turning into an authoritarian regime: Deputy PM to Western companies

Turkey is not turning into an authoritarian regime: Deputy PM to Western companies

Cansu Çamlıbel - WASHINGTON
Turkey is not turning into an authoritarian regime: Deputy PM to Western companies

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Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek has sought to ease concerns over Turkey’s democratic rule in the post-referendum era, claiming that the country “is not turning into an authoritarian regime” in a meeting with senior representatives from leading Western companies in Washington, D.C.

Senior executives from Abbott, Apple, Boeing, Cargill, Honeywell, Lockeed Martin, Metlife, Pfizer and Coca Cola as well as leading representatives from NGOs and universities attended the meeting organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) and the Turkish Heritage Organization on the sidelines of the 2017 IMF-World Bank spring meetings.

“Turkey is not turning into an authoritarian regime,” Şimşek said. 

“What Turkey voted [on April 16 referendum] was not a regime change. Turkey is still a democracy. Turkey is still a secular state. Turkey is still run by the rule of law and this will not change. Yes, there is still a state of emergency in our country, but this is necessary for our country’s safety and security, and it is only a temporary situation. Turkey is still dedicated to universal values, democratic rules, the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms,” he added. 

Şimşek claimed that the constitutional change was aimed at “overcoming several structural problems” in Turkish politics. 

“The new system will make it possible for single-party governments to work for a five-year period in an uninterrupted manner,” he said, while reiterating his comments that a “special focus” will be placed on economic reforms in the new era. 

“In addition to a number of micro reforms, we plan comprehensive reforms that will rebound Turkey’s investment climate and make it a much more predictable country,” he said. 

“There is no alternative for Turkey other than reforms. Our government has no choice other than making reforms,” Şimşek added.

‘Part of the Western world’

Şimşek stressed that the country remained part of the Western world. 

“Yes, there are some problems. We have different points of views from the United States. For instance, we think differently on how to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] in Syria, or about the crime network that was behind last year’s failed coup attempt in Turkey. We are in a constructive relationship with the [Donald] Trump administration and we are optimistic about strengthening our bilateral ties,” he added. 

“Turkey also needs the EU and the EU needs Turkey,” Şimşek said, adding that the Turkish economy has kept resilient despite recent shocks. 

“Please question more. Let’s be in more dialogue and talk more frequently. We are here to communicate. There has never been such a big difference between what Turkey really is and what it is believed to be. The real Turkey is much better than the way it is perceived and reflected,” he added.