Turkey's outgoing top boss highlights need for secularism

Turkey's outgoing top boss highlights need for secularism

Turkeys outgoing top boss highlights need for secularism

AA Photo

Turkey must embrace the republic’s principle of secularism in order to progress economically as well as socially and politically, Haluk Dinçer, the outgoing head of the country’s top business organization TÜSİAD, has said, speaking at a meeting where his presidential term ends.

“Turkey has understood the importance of the separation of religious and political affairs from each other, of freedom of religion and conscience, and of not imposing the lifestyle of certain social groups upon any others … Politics is not interested in people’s private lives and moral worlds. We need to embrace the principles of equal citizenship and secularism with our whole heart,” Dinçer said at TÜSİAD’s 45th General Assembly Meeting, during which the group’s new head will be elected.

“I need to emphasize Turkey’s rich republican experience. Some people do not examine this experience as they do not want to understand the importance of this unique experience in world and Islamic history. But the Ottoman Empire showed a willingness to end its deep crisis through a comprehensive reform program around 200 years ago. It is now meaningless to want to return back to the years before, when the empire was not able to foster an industrial revolution, or a transition to the modern state system and a society of democratic citizenship,” he added.

The departing Dinçer also said TÜSİAD plans to meet Turkey’s main political parties in order to share the reform priorities of the business world in the coming weeks.

The relationship between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and TÜSİAD has long been thorny. Erdoğan, the former prime minister, has repeatedly urged TÜSİAD “to mind its own business” after its leaders criticized the government on issues related to democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

Dinçer said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) started its journey with a comprehensive road map that included a series of development plans and macroeconomic reforms, but the country was still waiting to see “when these structural transformation programs will be realized.”

He warned that Turkey was “on the brink of a middle-income trap” as crucial reform initiatives have not been completed, urging the return of the AKP’s early reformist zeal.

TÜSİAD’s meetings with the representatives of political parties in order to make suggestions and share assessments together will take place in the months leading up to the June parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, TÜSİAD is expected to elect Cansen Başaran Symes, the only candidate, as its new president at the current General Assembly Meeting. Başaran Symes will be the third female president of the organization, after Doğan TV Holding Chairwoman Arzuhan Doğan Yalçındağ and Ümit Boyner, a board member of Boyner Holding.