Delivering the keynote speech, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan highlighted Turkey's development over the past decade. Erdoğan refrained from mentioning Israel, but he did talk about Palestine, stating that they live in the largest open-air prison in the world. Erdogan was followed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Noting that over the past decade, Turkey has seen an average of 5.3 percent annual economic growth, Prime Minister Erdoğan stated, "In 2011, Turkey became the second highest growing economy in the world following China, at a growth rate of 8.5 percent. The 230 billion dollar national revenue in 2002 multiplied by three times in 2011 to reach 772 billion dollars. In the same manner, per capita income also tripled, going from 3,500 dollars all the way to 10,444 dollars. Our foreign trade volume was at 88 billion dollars in 2002 and reached 376 billion dollars by the end of 2011, which is a rise of over four times. Our tourism revenue, which was at the 8.5 billion level in 2002, has now reached 23.5 billion dollars. When in the past direct international investments were unable to surpass one billion dollars annually, in 2011, it reached to 16 billion dollars. Mentioning that in 2002, Turkey's IMF debt was at 23.5 billion dollars, which today has dropped down to 1.7 billion dollars, Erdoğan stated, "By April, 2013 Turkey's IMF debt will have been completely zeroed out."
'As the world turns into a global village, conscience should also become globalized'
During his address, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan went on to state, ''As the world turns into a global village, conscience should also become globalized. If humanity is not enough for all that is happened, then the past global economic crisis must be witnessed and at the very least economic measures taken for the sake of the economy. It is for this reason that I place high importance on the Istanbul meeting."
In all of the elections we have had in Turkey, populism was never allowed nor were concessions made on financial discipline or fiscal policy. Turkey's experience is one that could be used as an example not only for Europe and regional countries but also for all nations that have heavily experienced the crisis.
''Turkey has never intended to interfere in any nation's internal affairs''
Erdoğan went on to emphasize that Turkey's success over the past decade is due just as much to its active foreign policy in addition to reforms. "We wholeheartedly support an extremely comprehendible viewpoint. We say that every nation's stability, welfare, peace and harmony is connected to the entire region's welfare, stability, peace and harmony."
''Most of the countries' borders in this region were determined during World War I"
Erdoğan went on to explain that the majority of borders in the Middle East the Caucasus, North Africa and the Balkans were established during the First World War. "The borders were so painfully established in this geography that there were times when the villages of relatives and even siblings were divided. One part of the village would remain in one country and the other would belong to another. As Turkey, we have experienced this on practically all of our borders. This situation, of drawing up a border should be considered to be a great opportunity. There are more common points than differences in this region. Therefore, one country's problem very closely affects other countries. As Turkey, we need to take an initiative when it comes to regional issues and at times have to raise our voices. However, this absolutely does not mean that we are attempting to interfere in a nation's internal affairs."
The Palestine Issue
Although Prime Minister Erdoğan refrained from mentioning Israel, he did bring up Palestine by explaining that he continuously draws attention to the Palestine issue because they are 'relatives' he said, calling Palestinians brothers. "At the same time, and I want to underline this fact; we perceive the Palestine issue to be the most significant threat to peace and stability in the region and therefore we constantly draw attention to the matter.
One the one hand innocent people, regardless of whether they are babies, children, women the elderly, are being bombed form the air, massacred in masses, they are being kept in the world's largest open-air prison. Meanwhile, at the same time, rage is being pumped into the entire region."
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ISTANBUL SUMMIT
The World Economic Forum Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia Summit, which will run until June 6th in Istanbul, is a first in the 42 year history of the organization which was formed in Geneva, Switzerland in 1971 for encompassing the widest geographical region. With 1,100 participants from 70 different countries, 50 of which are expected to participate with the highest level state representatives, the Istanbul World Economic Forum Summit opened on Tuesday with an address by Prime Minister Erdoğan.
Erdoğan receives open invitation to Davos
In Istanbul to attend a Davos-level international regional summit on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia, Stephen Kinnock, the director of the Europe and Central Asia region for the World Economic Forum spoke before the start of the two-day summit. "The continuation of our relations with Turkey is of utmost importance for us. It would be nice to see Turkey represented at the highest level once again."
Kinnock went on to offer an open invitation to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who during the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, walked away from the panel stating "Davos is over for me." Stating that the 'One Minute' crisis in Davos needs to be put behind us, Kinnock said, "Yes, the 'One Minute' incident did take place, however now we are moving on. Turkey is very important for us and we are happy to be here again. This World Economic Meeting in Istanbul is the best symbolic indicator that we have the right dialogue with the Turkish government."
TURKEY'S GREAT TRANSFORMATION
Pointing out that due to the reforms of recent years, Turkey's economy has become increasingly resilient, Kinnock stated, ''Turkey has gone through a great transformation in recent years. Ten years ago the inflation rate was incredibly high. People witnessed all of their savings vaporize in an instant.
There was an unbelievable huge imbalance in the financial system. We have seen that in the past decade Turkey's economy management has taken some very radical measures. Meanwhile, political stability has also been established. Turkey's foundation is extremely solid and its economic appearance and financial structure is well in place.''
Emphasizing that Turkey needs to be prepared for risks derived from the Euro Zone, Kinnock went on to state, ''There are two issues of concern in terms of Turkey's economic outlook. One is the fact that Turkey continues to deliver a significant amount of imports to Europe. How Turkey will be affected by a drop in demand from Europe is a significant issue. Turkey will need to show resilience. The other issue is the current account deficit and energy imports. We will be discussing these issues as well as Turkey's likely strategy in sessions held in Istanbul."
'EUROPE IS LACKING POLITICAL VOLITION'
Commenting on the issue of liquidity that could surface in Europe as a result of the deepening crisis, Kinnock said, "There is a large amount of liquidity in Europe. There is a four trillion Euro fund capacity that could be tapped into should the Europe Central Bank face a liquidity issue. The real problem is the fact that people in Europe are extremely cautious. Rather than liquidity, the issue is more closely related to the fact that trust in the markets has dropped. Certain countries especially are acting extremely cautious. The steps Europe takes in this crisis will hold much significance.