TÜSİAD rejects French claims over ‘influence in universities’
The Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) rejected remarks in a French Senate report about the work of the Institut du Bosphore (Paris Bosphorus Institute), saying its claim does not comply with the facts and aim to restrict the freedom of expression.
TÜSİAD made a statement about a report issued by the French Senate on Sept. 29, titled “The Influence of Non-European States in the World of French Universities and Academia and the Effects of These Influences.”
TÜSİAD on Oct. 11 said that the report, which did not refer to TÜSİAD, contained false information and material errors about the Institut du Bosphore.
It was stated that the institute is an independent and impartial think tank established in 2009 with the French association law no. 1901.
The institute has no organic or financial ties to any state, and it carries out its activities with the financial contributions of companies from France and Turkey and the support of TÜSİAD, the statement said.
“In its works, events and publications, the focus is on the economy, climate, digital transformation, energy, the European integration process and social issues, and different views on these issues are expressed independently of official institutions,” TÜSİAD said.
It noted that the institute receives contributions from the business world, politicians of different views, academics, media and civil society representatives from France, other EU countries and Turkey.
“The institute has been working transparently for 11 years in order to deepen knowledge about Turkey’s economic, political and cultural characteristics in Europe, to improve Turkey-France and Turkey-EU relations and the EU integration process. In this context, the statements in the Senate report on the impartiality and independence of the institute are inconsistent with the facts,” it added.
“We regret to see that the statements in the report about IB, an independent think-tank open to discussing all kinds of ideas, established to strengthen the dialogue between France and Turkey, also aim to restrict freedom of expression, one of the fundamental values of France and the EU,” the TÜSİAD said.
Further development of the deep-rooted relations between Turkey and France can only be achieved by supporting platforms where all kinds of views can be shared and discussed, it said, adding, “The institute, whose opinion was not taken during the preparation of the report, will attempt to correct the Senate report in the light of this information based on concrete, transparent and auditable data.”
In the report, it was claimed that China, Russia, Turkey and some Gulf states tried to impose their views by influencing the academic world in France.
In the Turkey section of the report, it is argued that Turkey is trying to create an impact on universities and academia on two main axes: “By establishing and financing think tanks” and “pressure targeting researchers.”
The TÜSİAD-supported Institut du Bosphore was cited as an example of these think tanks.