General Assembly – Opening Remarks

14 Apr 2022
General Assembly – Opening Remarks

In his first remarks to the General Assembly, newly elected TÜSİAD President Orhan Turan said:

“First of all, on behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank you for entrusting us with the responsibility of leading TÜSİAD in the coming period.

“As the Board of Directors, we are happy and honored to be chosen for this important task. I will work enthusiastically with my fellow board members of TÜSİAD, of which I am proud to have been a member for 18 years, having previously served on the Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board.

“I would like to thank the Chairman of the High Advisory Council, Tuncay Özilhan, for his contributions to the General Assembly. I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Simone Kaslowski and all the members of the Board of Directors for their invaluable contributions during these past three years.

“TÜSİAD is the factory that generates ideas for the Turkish business world. We will do our best to strengthen and build upon this vital record that has existed for half a century.

“The world is going through the most challenging transformation in recent memory. We are faced with a global landscape in which geopolitical tensions, economic crises, and natural disasters change its appearance on an almost daily basis.

“Change is constantly taking place all over the world at every level. As a result, individuals, institutions, and societies are developing strategies to respond to constant change with constant transformation.

“Every day, we see more clearly that the system of thought based on the “center and periphery,” which was the status quo in Turkey and in the world, is no longer adequate to make sense of this landscape. We must broaden and refresh our horizons to understand this environment. We must strive for cooperation and integration between East and West, Istanbul and Anatolia, politics and society, and economic growth and prosperity.

“For half a century, TÜSİAD has successfully fulfilled its mission through making sense of the world by broadening the horizons of our business world. Undoubtedly, TÜSİAD will continue to play a key role as the inclusive leader of the business world, building a future where stereotypes do not prevail and prejudices do not constrain us.

“The Board of Directors will take on the responsibility of being an independent, voluntary, and leading non-governmental organization by drawing strength from our deep-rooted organizational culture. With your support, we will continue to work towards an environment in which a competitive market economy prioritizing social welfare and sustainability are adopted, based in participatory democracy and secularism. Inclusion, communication, and cooperation are what we will prioritize in all of our work.

“As we have in the previous period, we will continue to share our recommendations with decisionmakers and the public, particularly in the fight against inflation which is impacting all parts of society. We will take the pulse of the business world with the Anatolian meetings of TÜSİAD, which has members and networks across Turkey. We will continue to find solutions to improve efficiency, employment and investment environments, and to overcome obstacles to sustainable growth and development.

“Strong rule of law and a strong democracy are the basis of a just and prosperous society. As TÜSİAD, we will continue to emphasize the vital importance of the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and individual freedoms in Turkey with this in mind.

“We will continue to represent the Turkish business world on the global stage with TÜSİAD’s strong international networks, in this period where the dynamics of the field of international relations have changed yet again. As we have in all working periods, we will strive to refresh Turkey’s EU integration process as a part of this new global equation.

“Green transformation and digital transformation are issues that TÜSİAD has prioritized for a long time. Efforts to implement digitalization for more efficient and value-added production as well as adopting environmentally friendly, energy-efficient production will continue to be important parts of our agenda.

“We will continue to support the development of our young people’s career journeys and encourage them to gain entrepreneurial and tech skills through training programs that TÜSİAD has offered for years. It is our responsibility to build a Turkey that will enable young people to achieve their dreams in this country.

“As a part of TÜSİAD’s ongoing 50th anniversary project, we will continue to share the “Building the Future” report, which was introduced by the Board of Directors last October, with all segments of society. It will explore the roadmap to being a country that prioritizes “people, science, and institutions.”

“We believe that embracing this vision carries great significance on the eve of the 100th anniversary of our Republic, which was founded under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. As we approach the second century of our Republic, we will pursue the goal of being an economically developed, internationally respected, socially egalitarian and environmentalist country. In particular, we will resolutely continue to emphasize achieving gender equality.

“As it has in the past, the key to Turkey’s future lies in the values of our Republic today. We will continue to defend the values of the Republic, which were inherited from the unique vision of the unifying power of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and which come to life through the realization of a modern, secular, and democratic society.

“As members, we are excited to carry out our duties, adding meaning to our volunteer activities and creating value for our country under the umbrella of TÜSİAD. Again, thank you all.”

In his farewell speech, Simone Kaslowski expressed hope for the future of Turkey. He said, “As a new era begins in world history, my belief that Turkey will achieve a position worthy of its potential is renewed…”

On economic management…

“We understand the importance of better management; of forming economic policy with an understanding of the important difference between growth and development. To this end, we continue to propose policy recommendations at every opportunity.

“In our report entitled “Building the Future,” published last year, we outlined three pillars of Turkey’s new story: people, science, and institutions. For the future of Turkey, prioritizing science and human development will depend on building inclusive and reliable institutions. Since October, when we released the report to our members and the public, we have shared it in visits across the country. We will continue to share the report throughout our society and with the entire business world.

“We are reaching a point globally where the influence of countries that do not have a strong economy will decrease even more. Simultaneously, we are in a historic moment of global restructuring where strategic considerations precede economic decisions. This is a moment when geopolitical concerns, ideological opposition, and a limited understanding of economic regionalization can come to the fore.

“Our concern is that Turkey is unprepared for this moment of change, where increasing inflation, restructured supply chains, and the demands of green transformation projects come to a head.”

“All around the world, digitalization is bringing about great changes in how we develop policies, from green transformation to more inclusive social development. TÜSİAD has always kept the issue of digitalization at the forefront by conducting studies and publishing guiding reports. Turkey can benefit from this transformation and meet these changes as well.

“Once again, I would like to evaluate our economic situation by underlining the difference between growth and development. I would like to remind everyone that growth does not necessarily translate to increased welfare. You can grow with low value-added, non-technological products or non-tradable sectors, but long-term development will not occur. Not all growth results in increased welfare. On the contrary, some of the steps taken in the name of rapid growth may further impoverish members of society. As irreplaceable resources are diminished, you foster conditions where impoverishment can only deepen.

“Recently, Turkey has rapidly depleted its reserves. It will not be easy to replenish them in a short period of time. In addition to foreign exchange reserves, we are diminishing our natural and human reserves. Just like migration due to drought, the harm caused by the emigration of our highly-skilled population abroad should be considered one of the most serious threats to the economy.

“In an economy at the level of development such as Turkey’s, a growth model built on exports and cheap labor is not sustainable. The technological realities of the 21st century highlight the need for the development and maintenance of a well-educated workforce.

“In a speech I made recently, I stated that we should adopt a three-pronged approach to fight inflation, which we worry will reach unsustainable levels. The first prong is regarding monetary policy. Badly-timed expansionary monetary policies, coupled with frequent interventions in foreign exchange markets and failing to use reserves rationally, cause increased inflation in the first stage. It is clear that we cannot sustain this approach. Secondly, we must ensure the harmonization of fiscal policy with monetary policy by arranging tax and incentive policies according to appropriate criteria. Thirdly, we must make structural changes that take into account long-term impacts to make production efficient in critical sectors such as energy and food.

“The crisis to the north, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, revealed the weaknesses in our dependence on imports for basic food products. Imports from Russia and Ukraine in soybeans, sunflower and vegetable oils, bread, wheat, and forage crops are of vital importance to Turkey. Both the depreciation of the Turkish Lira, global inflation, and the price increase in agricultural products accelerated by the war put heavy pressure on family budgets. As a result, the urban middle and poorer classes are in a very difficult situation.

“Fortunately, Turkey’s real sector is flexible and resilient. Despite the misguided economic policies, it continues to produce. Company and bank balance sheets also remain well-managed despite the interest rate policy and inflation. Even if we take the right steps only in monetary and fiscal policy, we will go a long way towards restoring macroeconomic balance.”

On geopolitical developments and Turkey’s foreign policy…

“The developments following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine altered the global picture. It seems that the idea of globalization, which characterized the last thirty years, will transform into a new and different structure.

“In order to strengthen relations with our transatlantic partners, especially the European Union, it is necessary to resolve issues in areas such as rule of law, judicial independence, individual freedoms, freedom of thought and expression, and turn to the rapid restoration and strengthening of democracy in Turkey.

“EU accession must be preserved and promoted as Turkey’s strategic goal. All the work, contacts, and conversations with new partners during these three years taught me a truth I already knew. Despite the social fluctuations we experience as a society, Turkey’s place is in the West.”

On rule of law and democratization…

“What I view as most important is the renewed understanding of the value of individual rights and freedoms, freedom of thought and expression, and an open intellectual environment, as we emerge from a time when authoritarianism is prominent. As TÜSİAD, we have advocated achieving the requirements of a modern democracy ever since our establishment.

“However, we have seen that democratic societies have the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes. Systems that do not renew themselves, that are not open to criticism, that are not adaptive, are eventually broken. Democratic societies, on the other hand, stretch and learn to adapt to new conditions. This is the ultimate ideal of the Republic.

“In my opinion, one of the most striking founding principles of the Republic is its approach to women’s rights. We see the efforts of women across Turkey – their successes, the obstacles they have overcome, and their determined resistance against a wave of violence that has gotten far out of hand. I believe that TÜSİAD, which always emphasizes the importance of women’s rights, especially with its calls to return the Istanbul Convention, should never retreat in its efforts on this issue.”

Kaslowski concluded his remarks by stating, “As the founders of TÜSİAD determined long ago, working towards the development of our country in line with Atatürk’s principles will always be the mission of TÜSİAD.”

Tuncay Özilhan, President of the TÜSİAD High Advisory Council, also delivered remarks:

“At the High Advisory Council meeting we held six months ago, we introduced a report titled, “Building the Future,” which we wrote for the 50th anniversary of the founding of TÜSİAD. In my speech that day, I stated that we were in a historical period in which tensions were rising considerably.

“I said that the future would be radically different from the past and present, with geopolitical developments at the forefront of the issues we face. But to be honest, when I made these warnings, I could not anticipate that such a significant crisis was awaiting us in the coming months.

“I look at the last fifteen years: the 2008 recession, the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and now the crisis in Ukraine. As soon as we leave the worst behind and say that we are in a recovery period, we are faced with an entirely new crisis. The concept of a “new normal” emerged after the 2008 crisis. It is almost as if crisis has become permanent and uncertainty and unpredictability have become our new normal. So, what should be done in situations where crises become chronic?

“Every crisis has a transformative effect on the society we live in in the long run. The result of adding multiple transformative effects on top of each other is a complete transformation. When we look to the future, it is inevitable that the world economy will be greatly impacted by the crisis in Ukraine, which broke out in a time when the global economy was preparing to re-emerge after the economic impact of the pandemic.”

On the economy…

“The problem we are currently facing is stagflation, because both the slowdown in production and the increase in prices is inevitable. Price increases and supply problems in energy, food, and other basic goods will affect Europe and Turkey negatively.

“The ultimate economic impact of the Ukraine crisis will depend on how it unfolds. It is for this reason that its economic impact is not easy to predict moving forward.

“The rise in inflation raises concerns everywhere. The chairman of the FED drew attention to the need to stabilize prices and stated that they would use the tools at their disposal for this purpose, prompting interest rate hikes.

“Unfortunately, Turkey was caught in this latest crisis during a time when our economy is not particularly strong. Turkey will be affected by this crisis both directly and indirectly due to its relations with Russia and Ukraine and from the slowdown in the European economy. In the case of a recession in Europe, it will not be possible for Turkey to continue its increase in exports. The decrease in tourists from Russia and Ukraine will prevent Turkey from reaching its anticipated tourism revenues. Rising oil and gas prices will increase the prices of imports. All of these issues will create an additional burden on the current account deficit and put pressure on the value of the TL.

“When we discuss the economy, we typically talk about macroeconomic stability. Because this is a foundation from which a healthy economy can be built. However, discussing macroeconomic stability should not prevent us from highlighting the need for transformation in areas such as production, investment, employment, technology, and innovation, the results of which will only be seen in the long run. Because these problems lie behind our inability to reach macroeconomic stability.

“As long as we are dependent on foreign goods, we import inflation from abroad. As the price of energy and basic inputs increase globally, this increase is reflected through an increase in inflation. In order to reduce dependence on imports in energy and production, we must follow the right industrial strategy and direct limited resources to the correct areas.

“It is not possible to achieve price stability permanently without eliminating dependency on foreign inputs, increasing investment, and accelerating agricultural and industrial production.

“One of the areas where the need for steadfast policies is most important is in agriculture. The pandemic and the Ukraine crisis made it clear how important it is to be self-sufficient in agriculture, and this is an area in which we should never compromise. Turkey is a country with enormous potential in agriculture with its suitable climate, biodiversity, agricultural lands, and farmers who can maximize these resources. This serves us as long as we apply the right policies with good planning.”

On globalization and restructured supply chains…

“One of the issues that has become controversial in light of the Ukraine crisis is the future of globalization. Many scenarios are possible, from the beginning of a new Cold War era against populist authoritarian governments, to the realization of the multipolar world, to the isolation of countries or even greater integration of the European Union.

"Whatever the scenario, the West will diversify its supply chains. While the West looks to reduce its dependence on Russia, especially in energy, Russia will seek to reduce its dependence on the West by developing its own production capacity, especially in high-tech goods. This situation will create many new opportunities for Turkey in energy corridors and supply chains. It is highly probable that Turkey will emerge from this new order stronger than it is today, once peace is achieved.”

On Turkey’s foreign policy…

“Turkey has pursued a more balanced foreign policy since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis and is making a serious effort to end the crisis through the use of its soft power. Turkey’s key role also creates the opportunity for relations with the West to improve.

“As we emphasized in our report entitled “Building the Future, ” westernization, development, and democratization go hand in hand for Turkey. The improvement of Turkey’s relations with the West on a constructive basis, coupled with the expansion of democratic rights and freedoms, and the acceleration of growth by ensuring economic stability are all conditions that will support each other.”

On democratization and rule of law…

“If we aim to improve in one of these areas, we must aim to improve in the other areas as well. If we want to go further in one of these areas, we need to aim to go further in other areas as well. The most important step to be taken in this direction is the strengthening of fundamental rights, the rule of law, and the separation of powers.

“I would like to repeat the following suggestions we published in our report, “Building the Future”:

1. Within the framework of rule of law and an independent judiciary, the state should be bound by the law in all of its actions and operations;

2. Pluralistic and participatory democracy should be strengthened, developing all areas of rights and freedoms and combatting marginalization, discrimination, and hate speech in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights;

3. Judicial independence should be protected with supervisory mechanisms to reinforce the separation of powers and establish a transparent, accountable, and less-centralized approach to public administration.

“Taking these steps will best position Turkey to maximize the benefit of the changing global order.”

On earthquake preparation in Istanbul…

“Another issue continues to occupy our agenda due to its humanitarian, economic, and social implications: the anticipated Istanbul earthquake. The disasters we have experienced remind us of the importance of disaster preparation. Studies indicate that 60% of commercial, industrial, and production areas in Istanbul (which account for one third of GDP) are located in a region of high earthquake risk. Additionally, 40% of national industrial production, half of our exports, one fifth of the population, and nearly half of our educational and cultural institutions lie in this earthquake zone.

“For this reason, it is our priority to complete the preparatory work as soon as possible through coordination with all relevant institutions in order to reduce human, social, and economic losses in the face of a possible earthquake.”

On the TÜSİAD Board of Directors…

“Today, we have an election for our Board of Directors. The Council of Presidents nominated Mr. Orhan Turan, a member of TÜSİAD, as the candidate for the Chairman of the Board of Directors. We had the opportunity to work closely with Mr. Turan during his term as the Chairman of TÜRKONFED’s Board of Directors. TÜRKONFED is a confederation that embraces industry and business associations in Anatolia. As a result of TÜSİAD’s cooperation with industry associations since 1994, the business world in Turkey is now much stronger in terms of representation.

“We know that our issues can be resolved under the umbrella of the Parliament through social reconciliation. Today, as it was fifty years ago, we see that civil society has a vital role to play in transforming our society into an advanced, prospering society. As TÜSİAD, we strive to fulfill this duty to the full extent possible.”

Verdiğimiz hizmetleri geliştirmek amacıyla çerezler kullanıyoruz. Daha fazla bilgiye bu linklerden ulaşabilirsiniz: