Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

Hisarcıklıoğlu attended Turkey-EU Civil Society Meetings

10.01.2017 / Londra / Birleşik Krallık

TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu attended the “Turkey-EU Civil Society Meetings: The Future of Europe” meeting organized by the European Union Ministry in London.​

Chairing the meeting attended mainly representatives from business circles from Turkey and the UK, TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu pointed out that this event had already been held in Brussels and Berlin and that the Ministry of the EU puts great importance on dialogue with business and non-governmental organizations, thanking EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik and his colleagues for their visions.


Hisarcıklıoğlu explained that TOBB is the umbrella organization of the business community in Turkey, “We have 1.5 million members. Businesses from every sector and every scale are in our network. I am also vice president for EUROCHAMBRES. I am a member of the Board of Directors of the International Chamber of Commerce. During the G20 presidency of Turkey in 2015, I also carried out the office of B20 Turkey Chair.”


As TOBB, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they have a long partnership with the British Chamber of Commerce dating back to 2001, “We have developed our Chamber Accreditation System working together with the UK Chamber of Commerce to bring service quality to the top. Here today are leaders of confederations of business people, tradesmen, workers and civil servants from Turkey. We, businesspeople, tradesmen, trade union confederations and non-governmental organizations of Turkey, come together in bilateral and European platforms with our counterparts. At the global level, we come together at B20 and L20. At the European level, we work together with European Employers and Employers in EUROCHAMBRES, BusinessEurope, UEAPME and ETUC.”


Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that in addition to Brussels and Berlin, the EU Ministry's inclusion of London as a venue for this meeting, which is highly relevant in European Union issues, is quite appropriate.


- The United Kingdom is a key country for the European continent and European integration


Noting that the United Kingdom is the world's fifth largest economy, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “I mean, in terms of economy, a world giant. Especially after the 2008 global crisis, we have seen better the capacity of the UK economy. Politically, the UK is among the key countries for European integration and European integration. In the recent years of global problems, this reality is felt more and more by everyone.”


Emphasizing that the economic aspect of bilateral relations between Turkey and the United Kingdom is extremely strong, the TOBB President said, “We have a wide range of investment and trade relations. With a trade volume of nearly 16 billion USD, the UK is one of Turkey's largest trading partners in the EU. Likewise, with a volume of approximately 8.5 billion USD, the UK is again one of our most important investment partners. There are about 2,800 UK companies operating in Turkey. Among foreign companies operating in Turkey, this number is among the top three countries. There are also serious Turkish investments in the UK. In particular, we are seeing a significant increase in our investments in the United Kingdom with United Biscuits, purchased by Yıldız Holding.”


- European Parliament's decision to suspend negotiations


Hisarcıklıoğlu emphasized that as workers, employers, tradesmen and farmers in Turkey, they put great importance on dialogue with their counterparts in Europe, and they are baffled by the proposal to suspend dialogue and negotiations.


Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they regarded the European Parliament’s decision to suspend Turkey-EU negotiations with regret, saying, “We are complaining about the EU. The UK is still an EU member - one of the most important members of the EU. Turkey-EU Relations have a long history. In our relations, the governments of the United Kingdom have always made constructive contributions. In this historical process, there are some milestones for relations. The most important of these is undoubtedly the initiation of the accession negotiations in 2005. In the meantime, Turkey's accession process to the EU was unfortunately not successful. In fact, Turkey's EU membership project is an appropriate project. It is appropriate for Turkey and it is appropriate for the EU. It's the right project for the European Continent. There is serious vision and foresight in the background. For that reason, this project should be successful. None of us are perfect. However, we all have the contribution that we will provide for our future, for the future of this continent.”


Hisarcıklıoğlu emphasized that values ​​such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and respect for minority rights and market economy are common values ​​of all and that, European integration is a very important anchoring task in the spread of these values ​​in all the countries in the continent.


Noting that, as Turkey's employers, tradesmen, civil servants, workers and non-governmental organizations, they want a future where peace and prosperity will continue in the European continent, the TOBB President asserted that the United Kingdom will always be one of the most important actors in ensuring this future. He emphasized that it was necessary to prepare for this future.


Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they are curious about the effects of the BREXIT process and the future of the EU, its effect on the European Continent, and that for the most part, the outcome will have to be experienced to fully appreciate its effects.


- “As the business community, we see the EU as an ally in the fight against fundamental problems”


Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they have studied successful examples of the integration of refugees and immigrants in relation to refugee-immigrants who are among the main problems of the EU. “Turkey has spent about 25 billion USD on Syrian refugees since 2011. In addition to meeting the human needs of refugees, we are also trying to integrate them into the economy. We are talking about the fact that what appears to be a crisis today can, in essence, be a success story if it is well managed. For example, there are stories of economic integration in Europe and very successful immigrants in the United States. However, there are policies based on international cooperation and inclusiveness, not nationalist policies and exclusivity.”


Hisarcıklıoğlu stated for Turkey and the EU, energy security, balance of freedom and security and the fight against international terrorism, are issues on a regional and global level which require joint solutions.


- Participants express their views


Participants expressed their views on the following issues: “How do you assess the future of the EU in the context of multiple crises, such as the attendees at the meeting, the European Union's recent crisis, economic crisis, refugee crisis, energy security, freedom-security balance?” “Does Turkey's membership give the EU an edge over these crises? What kind of contribution do they provide if they contribute?” “As a business community, how can we contribute? What are your suggestions in this regard?” “How do you evaluate the future of economic relations between Turkey and the United Kingdom?”

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