By Isa Sezen, Zelis Yildiral, Istanbul

Zaman, Turkey
Oct 17 2006

French firms that have Turkish partners employ about 45 thousand
Turks. Observers note that boycotting these firms, which manufacture
their products here, will inevitably damage the Turkish economy.

The economic boycott started in retaliation for the law passed in
France criminalizing denial of an Armenian genocide during World War I.

While French products are being boycotted directly, confusion surrounds
the Turkish partners of French firms and Turkish firms mistaken for
French because of their names.

The fact that some firms, such as LC Waikiki, a Turkish firm, and Avon,
an American one, are on the boycott list is causing uneasiness about
possible unfair conduct of some firms who might attempt to damage
the reputation of their competitors.

The call to not purchase 'Made in France' products, mostly cosmetic
ones, still affects Turkish-partnered firms, which would cripple a
certain section of the economy employing 45 thousand Turkish citizens.

Saban Erdikler, the chairman of International Investors Association
(YASED), which aspires to make Turkey a more attractive country for
direct foreign investments, says that, "the inability to establish a
balance in the boycott would amount to shooting ourselves in the leg."

The members of the association are all professional managers of
international firms operating in Turkey. The fact that the Turkish
partners of French firms will suffer damage keeps forcing boycott
organizers in Turkey to step back. With Total in top position on the
list, the Consumers Union of Turkey deleted CarrefourSA from second
place considering its contribution to many branches of business and
employment in Turkey.

After the passage of the bill in the French Parliament, the inclusion
by some internet sites of many companies on the boycott list regardless
of their origin a sparked a debate about the trustworthiness of
such sources.

A similar debate occurred when relations with Italy were tense owing
to Turkey's extradition demand for Abdullah Ocalan, head of the PKK.

A major furniture company, Bellona, because of its Italian-sounding
name was obliged to publicly announce that it was a Turkish firm.

When the crisis over the offensive cartoons broke out, some German
and Italian products were also put on the boycott list.

Bulent Deniz, president of the Consumers Union, complained that the
authors of such lists are unknown and went on to caution that: "The
e-mails spreading in cyber-space are open to any kind of abuse. Some
names on the list might have been put there because there is little or
no information about them, or because certain ill-intentioned people
want to vilify their competitors."

He advised that such lists not be taken seriously and emphasized that
they do not prepare such lists themselves due to their unpredictability
and the difficultly in controlling them.

On the other hand, Turkey must tread carefully with Turkish-partnered
firms like CarrefourSA, the first one that comes to mind.

Saban Erdikler, chairman of International Investors Association,
noted that, "these firms should be viewed as companies using Turkish
raw materials and serving Turkey."

After calling for a boycott against the oil company Total, the
Consumers Union took CarrefourSA off the list for such reasons.

Their decision to exclude firms depends on the investments made by
a firm with their Turkish partners. Bulent Deniz remarked that:
"Our priority this week was CarrefourSA, however we changed our
minds because it feeds many branches of business and contributes to
employment greatly. The committee we've formed is carrying on its
work on finding new names that will attract people's attention like
Total did."

Legal advisor of United Brands Union (BMD) Vehbi Kahveci noted that
it was nonsense to punish those manufacturing their products here
and who pay taxes.

"The owners of the boycotted stores are Turks and they employ many
workers," Kahveci said, adding that: "because of competition among
brands, many are trying to abuse the situation; however the conscious
consumer will not allow this. There is a total sum of $10 billion in
trade volume between the two countries. There are 524 firms operating
in Turkey with French capital."

"This Amounts to Shooting Ourselves in the leg"

France is third on the list of the largest foreign investors . As of
2005, their international investments equaled $115 billion. On the
contrary, foreign investment in France is about $63 billion dollars.

Saban Erdikler stresses that France's share in the $12.4 billion
dollars of foreign capital that came to Turkey in the first eight
months of this year is $330 million. Turkey ranks among the first
five countries to which France exports.

The crisis so far has not caused any trouble in the movement
of capital, he said, but added: "it should not be overlooked that
dragging a boycott, a judicial topic by nature, into the economic
sphere will naturally harm Turkey. Also, it is not right to see the
firms founded here with French capital as completely French.

Ultimately, they are firms founded in Turkey, using a Turkish labor
force and Turkish raw materials that serve Turkey."

Erdikler also emphasized that Turkey should defend its cause through
the international courts available.