Turkey needs to lean back toward EU, top business group chair says

Turkey needs to lean back toward EU, top business group chair says

BURSA – Doğan News Agency
Turkey needs to lean back toward EU, top business group chair says

TÜSİAD head Muharrem Yılmaz warned about ensuring the independence of the judiciary amid concerns on the government’s intervention in the judiciary. AA Photo

Turkey needs to revive its European Union (EU) bid in order to actualize structural reforms that are needed to maintain democratic standards in the country and raise its slowing economic growth rate, the chairman of the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) Muharrem Yılmaz said.

“Don’t we see the problems in our country have somewhat increased after deviating from the EU goals, partly due to the approach of our friends at the EU and partly for neglect by our part,” he said during a speech to businesspeople in Bursa on Dec. 27 amid a graft probe that has shaken the government.

“In my opinion, this is something that has to be pondered. During these days especially, as we are passing through a difficult test as a country,” Yılmaz said.

Yılmaz also warned about ensuring the independence of the judiciary amid concerns on the government’s intervention in the judiciary, particularly after the issue of the regulation lifting investigation secrecy.

”We have to overcome this test with our democratic gains, without damaging the judiciary’s independence and discrediting our belief in politics and justice,” he said.

Yılmaz was speaking before the controversial regulation was annulled by the Council of State Dec. 27.
Turkey’s top business leader also expressed his own concerns on the possibility of losing democratic gains.

According to Yılmaz, energizing the country’s determination to proceed towards EU integration would be crucial for securing these targets as well as returning to the impressive growth of past years.

“We should [scrupulously protect] democracy and the institutions that we built up until today. We have to protect and develop them. We know all very well that this is the only way that we can reach our development goals,” he said.

“We will complete this year with around 4.2 or 4.3 percent growth and unfortunately we calculate next year’s growth also to realize at around 4 percent, which we dub as Turkey’s potential growth. But this rate is not enough for Turkey,” Yılmaz said.

Recalling the country grew around 6 percent on average within the past 11 years, Yılmaz said, it could have maintained this rate.

“However, there are some lessons we should extract from the past period to keep the 6 percent growth,” according to him.

Structural reforms, which we lost appetite for and we stagnate on, are on the top of those. And in front of the structural there is the issue of education which stands like a coefficient, which we hope to add value to all structural reforms,” he said. 

'Kurdish process effort should be maintained'

The chairman also pressured the government to maintain its determination in the Kurdish peace efforts for the sake of both the economy and sustaining democracy.

“We think one percentage point of 6 percent growth will come with the efforts for eliminating regional inequalities in the country,” he said.

Four ministers were implicated in the graft probe that has rocked Turkey since last week.

The sons of former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, who handed over their portfolios Dec. 26 after resigning, were among the 24 people who have been formally arrested under the corruption investigation.

The graft forced Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to announce a wider cabinet reshuffle than previously expected on Dec. 25.

Probe ‘cost’ 100 bln Turkish lira

The ongoing corruption investigation and political crisis erupted in Turkey has cost almost 100 billion Turkish Liras to the country’s economy as of Dec. 26, Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) Chairman Nail Opak has said. “The losses in stock exchange are 77 billion liras as of yesterday [Dec. 26]. There are 8 billion liras because of interest rate loss and 14 billion in foreign exchange,” he said speaking in the Aegean province of Manisa.

“I am not happy to say this but there is 99 billion liras-worth of reflection on three items, including the ones in this room, we all pay for this,” he said. “Peace, trust and stability we achieved after a long and hard road is crucial for our businessmen and our nation. We have to look after them,” he also stated.