Given the current events in Turkey, how can the government work to regain the trust and confidence of the international community in Turkey, both diplomatically and economically?
We are sure that these events will be finished in a short period of time. In all countries, including the West, these types of events, these protests, occur. These are not extraordinary events. They are democratic protests and there are illegal groups within the protests that are causing injuries so we are taking precautions with our police to prevent this. All of these protests started with environmental concerns, but this has changed and because of the dimension we are seeing today it will be short lived. The protests will be over soon and Turkey will lose nothing. We are sure that there are some people who would like to demolish the good reputation of Turkey, but as far as we know there are no economic indicators that these protests are adversely affecting Turkey. Within the last month there have been huge contracts such as the new airport, whose budget is $22 billion. Our investments are keeping pace, and together with the Sinop nuclear plant and third bridge over the Bosphorus, recently we signed projects amounting $100 billion. There are no limitations for foreign investors. In every sector we have huge growth, especially the financial sector. Turkey is not having anymore the fragile economy days of 10-15 years ago. On the other hand Turkey’s growth rate for 2012 was higher than that of all the European countries. Turkey is among the few countries that has been least affected by the global economic crisis. I can confidently tell a newspaper like The Independent that Turkey is not a fragile country. We have had economic crisis in the past and because of them we had to take out a loan from the IMF, which totaled $23.5 billion, but we have repaid that loan and now we are even in a situation to give $5 billion loan to the IMF.
What final message would you like to send to our million-plus readers in the printed version in The Independent and The in the United Kingdom and to the millions of readers online on worldfolio.co.uk, about UK/Turkey relations or even about Turkey as a whole?
The relations between the United Kingdom and Turkey are very strong and go back a long time. We have Turkish citizens living in the UK who have adapted to the country successfully. There are not many Turkish investments in the UK, but there are many UK investments in Turkey. Turkey has been rated very well in regards to the exports recently. For example, in construction, automotive, white goods and textiles, Turkey has very good relationships with the UK. Especially in the automotive and white goods sectors, Turkey has very strong economic relations with the UK. We can also say that the UK is an example of democracy that Turkey uses. For hundreds of years you have stood up for human rights and rule of law and Turkey is taking this as an example. Democracy in Turkey has been very successful and especially in the last few years, we have had much more individual freedom compared to the past. Turkey would also like to be a full member of the EU, but we haven’t made huge steps because of the attitude of some countries in the EU, but not the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has always supported Turkey’s full membership and we really appreciate this. I would like to emphasise our firm belief that we will not be a burden on EU but relieve EU of its burden. Turkey’s full membership to the EU would be very advantageous to the EU and we believe the UK is well aware of this fact.