ALI H. – TuSIAD: Foreign investors question slowdown in Turkey reforms

TuSIAD: Foreign investors question slowdown in Turkey reformsAs Turkey continues to be criticized both at home and abroad for its failure to implement sufficient democratic reforms and to ensure the rule of law, the head of Turkey’s most influential business association has said that foreign investors are concerned about this slowdown in democratization reforms. There are “misgivings in the US capital about why reforms in Turkey were left unfinished and why Turkey backpedaled on reforms,” said Muharrem YIlmaz, chairman of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TuSIAD), in a statement he made following meetings members of TuSIAD had with their counterparts in Washington, D.C., last week.  YIlmaz, accompanied by a delegation from the association, had three days of high-level meetings in the US capital. Noting that during the visit the delegation was often faced with questions such as, “What happened to Turkey, star country of the 2000s?” YIlmaz said, “These [questions] indicate the shortcomings in judicial independence in Turkey.” At a press conference YIlmaz held with the TuSIAD delegation at the association’s Washington office on Wednesday, the TuSIAD head said that they were asked by Americans what had happened to so radically change Turkey’s seemingly bright future. Noting that the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are fundamental for business to thrive, YIlmaz said: “I hope we will settle all these [issues].” He called on Turkish politicians to eliminate the shortcomings in these areas, adding that the business community in Turkey must be aware of the country’s economic weaknesses. “If Turkey wants to become the shining star of this century, it needs to accelerate the reforms. Wealth and democracy always go hand in hand. Neither of them is an alternative to the other,” YIlmaz said. But he also added that despite their concerns, expectations for the Turkish economy in Washington, D.C., are still high and that nobody was overly discouraged due to the current situation in Turkey. Noting that his organization had felt more confident when they visited the US when Turkey was carrying out democratic reforms and was busy with steps that would harmonize the country’s legislation with that of the European Union, YIlmaz also said, “We saw during our latest visit that the EU is looking for the answer to the question, ‘Why is Turkey no longer willing to carry out reforms?’” YIlmaz said that they had given their American counterparts the message that Turkey would overcome the slowdown in reform and would put the reforms back on the agenda soon, and that they should be patient.  In response to a question about remarks that were highly critical of the government made last week by HaIim KIlI, head of the Constitutional Court, the TuSIAD head said the comments were intended to point out inadequacies in the rule of law and in the independence of the judiciary.  In his speech, the head of TuSIAD also called on the EU, with which Turkey has been conducting negotiations for full membership for nearly 30 years — though they are currently stalled — to open chapters 23 and 24 on the judiciary and fundamental rights, and justice, freedom and security, respectively. In the US capital, the TuSIAD delegation met with Tara Leweling, director for NATO and European affairs for the National Security Council Staff Bill Burns, deputy secretary of state at the US State Department Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli and Dan Mullaney, assistant US trade representative for Europe and the Middle East and head negotiator at the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations as well as several members of the US Congress and Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Federal Reserve.The TuSIAD delegation also had meetings at the Brookings Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

SOURCE: Todays Zaman

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