Turkish PM criticizes developed countries at WEF meet

Turkish PM criticizes developed countries at WEF meet

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish PM criticizes developed countries at WEF meet

Turkish PM Erdoğan says he believes it is important that the World Economic Forum produces some sort of solution to the gap between rich and poor countries. REUTERS photo

The world’s developed countries are not doing enough to help poorer nations, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in his opening speech at a WEF meeting on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia, held in Istanbul yesterday.

Erdoğan has not attended the annual World Economic Forum in Davos for three years, following the “one minute” incident, in which a moderator cut his remarks short during a debate with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

“They send their rapporteurs to undeveloped countries and the money paid for these rapporteurs is being presented as a ‘helping hand’ to the world. However, these rapporteurs go there, ride around in their cars; they earn a serious amount of money. And then I ask those countries if they have received any kind of financial or humanitarian aid, and they say no. This is where the problem is,” Erdoğan said, adding that such a situation was unacceptable.

The first-ever WEF on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia commenced June 4 in Istanbul under the theme “Bridging Regions in Transformation.” Erdoğan, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, Energy & Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız and EU Minister Egemen Bağış are also attending the forum, which will host representatives from 70 countries over two days.

The executive chairman of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Tunisian Prime Minister Hammadi Jebali also attended the opening session of the forum.

‘World is longing for love’

Erdoğan said the world was longing for three main things: “First is global peace. We have been continuously talking about global peace, but it remains unfulfilled. Second, we are longing for love in the world. There should be important steps to be taken to achieve this love … And third is -- and this is also very important -- the world is in fact longing for sharing. On one side are the least-developed countries, on another side are the developing countries and on a third side are the developed countries. How much can the developed and developing countries help the least-developed countries?”

Erdoğan said he believed it was important that the WEF produced some sort of solution to these problems.

The prime minister also highlighted Turkey’s development in the past decade. Erdogan said Turkey’s debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was 23.5 billion dollars in 2002 due to stand-by agreements, and that this debt had decreased to 1.7 billion dollars by 2012. Turkey’s debt to the IMF will be paid completely by April 2013, Erdogan added.

“Ten years ago we used to be a country that took, rather than gave. Now we are feeling the joy of giving to other countries as well,” Erdoğan said.

The WEF holds its main, annual meeting at Davos. After the 2009 dispute, Erdoğan said he would not return there.

Turkey’s growth ‘gives hope’

ISTANBUL – Anatolia News Agency

Turkey has reconciled a predominantly Muslim population with a secular democracy, which makes it a model for other countries that are fighting to throw off dictatorships, the World Economic Forum’s founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said yesterday when delivering the opening speech at the forum’s Istanbul event.

“Turkey, a country that lies at the furthermost east of the west and the furthermost west of the east, is the fastest-growing country among OECD countries despite the economic crisis. This gives hope to everyone,” Schwab said.