The Turkish World Business Council meets in Istanbul
The DEİK Turkish World Business Council held its General Assembly of Turkish World Entrepreneurs in Istanbul. The event was attended by the President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In his opening address, the Turkish President praised ingenuity and potential of the Turkish business community which had spread out over the world. They left their homes in pursuit of trade and profits, which he qualified as the most fundamental drive for such a move. He referred to them as "Çağdaş Alperenler – heroic fighters of our time". In this context, he mentioned the crises in Syria and Iraq which had driven more than 3 million refugees to Turkey. In the last 13 years, the number of Turkish enterprises abroad had seen a significant increase, he said. Today, Turks were present in 167 countries, with a strong presence in 19. But even while living in foreign countries, Turks would never compromise their national and spiritual values.
The opening ceremony was followed by the meanwhile traditional „Session of Ministers". Participants this time were the Deputy Prime Ministers Yalçın Akdoğan and Mehmet Şimşek, the Economics Minister Mustafa Elitaş, the EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkır, and the Culture and Tourism Minister Mahir Ünal. During the session, representatives of the Turkish business diaspora from 95 countries had the opportunity to ask the ministers questions. The main topics addressed were EU membership negotiations, the paradigm shift in EU relations, the crisis with Russia, updating of the Customs Union, the fight against terrorism, unregulated immigration and the promotion and image of Turkey.
The gala dinner following the assembly session was attended by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoğlu, offering the representatives of the Turkish business diaspora the opportunity to meet the head of the Turkish government.
In his dinner speech, Prime Minister Davutoğlu praised the Turkish diaspora because every value their created was of benefit for the motherland. At the same time they made their country proud. Their existence was a great advantage for the Turkey. In this context, the Prime Minister emphasised that the country would not stray from its reformist path and continue to closely monitor and engage in international developments. On foreign visits, he himself would use every opportunity to advance the cause of the Turkish business community, after all, the country had become a globally recognised regional power.
Davutoğlu reminded the audience that Turkey had signed 19 FTAs in the past 14 years, while the number of visa-free countries had risen from 42 to 67. In June the Schengen visa regime would be abolished for Turkish citizens, he announced. Referring to the current humanitarian crises, the Prime Minister said that Turkey had received more refugees than any other country in the world, and that Turkey is one of the leading nations in international humanitarian aid.
In the words of Davutoğlu, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Turkish people is their greatest gift. He promised to continue with the reforms designed to improve the competitiveness of the real sector. The Prime Minister sounded an optimistic note with respect to EU relations saying that the country was about the reach the end of its 50-year journey. After 1 July the 33rd chapter was to be opened. He ended his speech appealing for more investments from expat Turks, and the creation of employment.
DEİK President Ömer Cihad Vardan announced that DTİK membership had risen in the past 2 years, and briefed the audience about the events of the first day of the General Assembly.
· More than 5.5 million Turks reside abroad.
· With 4.6 million, Western Europe has the largest Turkish expat community.
· 900,000 Turks live in North America, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.
· More than 300 Turkish companies are invested abroad.
According to figures of the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Turkey, Turks have established 4439 associations abroad.