Turkey must refocus on EU, top boss says

Turkey must refocus on EU, top boss says

Turkey must refocus on EU, top boss says

the head of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association Muharrem Yılmaz. DHA photo

Turkey needs to get back on track in its European Union accession process if it wants to achieve greater economic growth, political stability and democratization, the head of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) said yesterday.

“Turkey today is trying to maintain greater economic growth, political stability and democratization processes simultaneously despite all the uncertainties and instability in its surroundings, as it did before,” Muharrem Yılmaz said at an event at the Institut de Bosphore. “On the road to achieving those goals, Turkey needs to refocus on the EU membership process, which had been off the rails for a while.”

Turkey’s EU membership process is of great importance both for the country’s economic improvement and democratization process, he said, adding that the EU had already played a significant role in Turkey’s rapid progress in the chapters covering human rights, basic rights and freedoms. 

He said Turkey needed to upgrade its relations with the EU in line with today’s different realities and with what it had learned from the membership process. 

“In this vein, we believe a new date for Turkey’s EU membership should be announced as soon as possible. And all required changes, initiatives and reforms must be realized to enable the new process to gain more dignity and persuasiveness,” he said. 

The EU project, as a key component of globalization, a project of peace and welfare project and a reference for civilization, should continue to deepen and widen, according to Yılmaz. 

“The EU is of great importance in taking strong measures to resolve the problems in the global economy and in maintaining global stability with the big step to enlarge itself so as to include Turkey,” he said. 

New chapters need to be opened immediately 

Yılmaz said Turkey’s EU membership journey was a priority for the country’s businesspeople.

“Our basic reference is the EU in terms of corporate governance rules, trade, investment, tourism, technology, social programs, the manufacturing industry, the services sector and daily life routines. We are looking forward to the launch of the 22nd chapter on Regional Policy and Structural Instruments’ Coordination in the short term to accelerate the works on achieving more democratization and regional development. Then, the 23rd chapter on the Judiciary and Fundamental Rights and the 24th chapter on Justice, Freedom and Security should be opened to negotiation,” Yılmaz said. 

The transatlantic economic relations between the United States and the EU have continued to be the main pillar of the global economy, he said, adding that a transatlantic free deal trade currently being negotiated between the EU and the U.S. provided hope that the world economy would start growing again and that Turkey needed to become a part of the process.

“With the inclusion of Turkey, a more enlarged EU would be the pivot of global cooperation with its increasing soft power,” Yılmaz said. 

At the same time, the Turkish economy could lose $20 billion if it is left out of the transatlantic deal, an analysis prepared by the Brookings Institute and TÜSİAD showed last month.

Former Turkish Economy Minister Kemal Derviş also backed a renewed Turkish drive to join the European Union.

“If Turkey became an EU member, it would be different than others like Britain and Sweden, and Turkey’s inclusion in the union would be very good for both sides,” said Derviş, co-chairman of the scientific committee of the Institut du Bosphore and vice-president of Brookings Institution.