Anadolu Agency
March 10 2004

Tusiad Asks France To Support Turkey's E.U. Bid

PARIS - Omer Sabanci, the Chairman of the Association of Turkish
Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSIAD) asked on Tuesday France's
support for EU's starting full membership negotiations with Turkey.

TUSIAD's Paris Office was opened the same day in a ceremony in which
State Minister Ali Babacan, French Minister of Economy, Finances, and
Industry Francis Mer and Chairman of Association of French
Industrialists and Businessmen (MEDEF- Mouvement des Entreprises de
France) Antoine Seilliere participated.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Sabanci said that ''we firmly
believe that France will appreciate the historical, strategic and
political significance of helping Turkey join the EU.''

Sabanci stated that ''with the start of the negotiations early next
year, we expect an influx of foreign direct investment. This should
enhance the intensification of economic activities in our country.
Our economic dynamism is helping the economies of neighbouring
countries. We expect Armenia to soon join Syria, Iraq, Georgia,
Russia, Iran and other regional countries as a viable trade partner
of Turkey when the border is opened.''

''By the beginning of the next decade Turkey will be an energy
corridor as gas and oil pipelines cross the country north to south
and east to west. The EU would be one of the beneficiaries of such a
development since these multiple pipelines will enable it diversify
its sources of energy,'' Sabanci noted.

Referring to the historical and cultural bonds between Turkey and
France in his speech, Sabanci also mentioned the importance of France
in modernization period of Ottoman Empire noting that ''it was the
philosophers of enlightenment, the literature and political thought
of France that attracted the reformers in Ottoman Empire.''

''The Turkish Republic was designed in large measure after French
political and administrative example. Kemal Ataturk's private library
includes many well-thumped meticulously annotated works by French
thinkers, notably Rousseau and Montesqieu,'' he said.

Sabanci said that the strong historical and intellectual bonds
between the two countries gave Turkey the assurance that France would
understand Turkey's aspirations about EU membership.

TUSIAD Chairman said that important steps were taken in Turkey during
the last two years to meet Copenhagen criteria and remarked that the
economic system was being restructured.

Referring to the devastating economic crisis of 2001, Sabanci said
that ''with the guidance of a program supported by the IMF, and then
admirably managed by State Minister Babacan we have finally reached
calm waters. From now on the Maastricht criteria and the Lisbon
Strategy of the European Union are also our main guidelines.''

''As of this month, the rate of inflation dropped to single digit
levels. Growth has been restored to the economy even if employment
figures have not yet caught up with the rebound. Interest rates are
at their lowest since a quarter century ago and budgetary discipline
has been mostly restored. Turkish companies are emerging as
world-class competitors in sophisticated industrial products,'' he
said.

Sabanci stated that he believed that Turkey would reach its goals in
privatization and administrative reforms, adding that TUSIAD aimed to
bring Turkey's economy to the standards of most competitive countries
in terms of its technological sophistication.

Sabanci noted that TUSIAD worked hard and long for Turkey's
democratization, adding that TUSIAD was the watchdog of the reform
process.

''What we ask from our partners in the EU is encouragement and a fair
assessment when December arrives. Turkey is ready for the process of
negotiations, which we know will take several years to successfully
conclude. By that European Council, Turkey will have done its part in
securing a Cyprus resolution. We hope that our Greek counterparts,
particularly in the island, will do the same,'' Sabanci said.

''September 11 and the conduct of the war against Iraq led all of us
to a reassessment of Transatlantic relations,'' he said adding that
Turkey would continue to play an important role strategically in the
new world order.

''We all have a common interest in not allowing a so-called clash of
civilizations. Just as much we have a common interest in stabilizing
the Middle East and assure the emergence of a secular, representative
political order in that critical region. I am sure you share my view
that such a task would be almost impossible without Turkey's
participation and contribution. Developments of the past year and a
half particularly the context of the Iraq war have highlighted the
commonality of interests for Turkey and the EU. We should work to
deepen our dialogue and understanding. And this can only be achieved
as our partnership evolves to full membership in an EU that becomes a
full player in world politics just as France desires,'' he added.