« Turkey and Mexico need to sign a free trade deal and lift trade barriers, says Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, head of Turkey’s Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges.
Obstacles to trade between Turkey and Mexico should be lifted immediately and the two countries should sign a free trade agreement as soon as possible, said Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), speaking at the Mexico-Turkey Business Forum in Mexico City Mexico over the weekend.
“Turkish businessmen have turned a blind eye to Mexio. We are the most active entrepreneurs in the region, but we have missed out on Mexico,” said Hisarcıkloğlu adding that in order to have a say in the global arena, Turkey needs to trade with Mexico. To help this, the two countries should agree to lift visa requirements and double taxation, as well as protecting investments, he added.
TOBB head meets Slim
Hisarcıklıoğlu also had the opportunity to visit Mexican national Carlos Slim, declared the world’s richest man in 2010 and 2011 by Forbes magazine, with a fortune of approximately $70 billion. Slim told Hisarcıklıoğlu that he looked favorably on investing in Turkey, especially in the telecommunications sector, according to the Anatolia news agency. Slim is heavily involved in Mexico’s telecommunications sector (Telmex and America Movil) and has several investments in other industries such as banking, technology and retail. Anatolia news agency quoted Hisarcıklıoğlu as saying that Slim was planning a trip to Turkey as soon as this summer, and that he would be given the opportunity to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to Hisarcıklıoğlu, Slim said Turkey was a “shining star,” and that if Turkey and Mexico were able to maintain close relations over the next ten years, both countries would be promoted to the status of truly developed countries. »
« Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan met with Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the United States media giant News Corp. during his heavy schedule yesterday.
During the meeting which lasted an hour and ten minutes, Murdoch shared with Erdoğan his intentions to invest in the nation and stated: « We want to expand our programs in Turkey. We see Turkey as an important country from a media standpoint. We hope to expand our investments here. » Murdoch was accompanied by former parliamentarian Engin Güner for the meeting.
Upon his arrival, Murdoch was carrying a book entitled, « The Empty Ouarter », which he later gave to Prime Minister Erdogan as a gift.
English writer John Bridger Philby wrote the book which describes the Rub ‘al Khali desert in Arabian peninsula. Philby was a British colonial intelligence officer during World War I, yet died a Muslim in Lebanon in 1960.
Prime Minister Erdoğan also welcomed Iraqi leader Ayad Allawi. Prior to Erdoğan’s arrival to the Prime Ministry, 20 security detail were on duty to search the area with dogs following a noise bomb that went off prior. »
« Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch on Tuesday afternoon in Ankara.
The Australian-American media mogul’s meeting with Erdoğan followed last month’s media reports that his News Corporation was planning to buy Turkish Çalık Holding’s Sabah daily and ATV station.
A Turkish official close to the prime minister told The Associated Press that Murdoch has expressed an interest in expanding investments in Turkey.
The official said Murdoch told Erdoğan during the meeting that he regarded Turkish media as an « important sector » for investments.
The Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, would not say if Murdoch expressed interest in acquiring Turkey’s ATV television and Sabah newspaper.
Murdoch in 2007 shared with the Turkish government that he “seriously contemplated the acquisition of Sabah and ATV” when they were put up for sale by the state’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). Following confiscation by the TMSF of Turkish business tycoon Turgay Ciner’s Merkez Media Group in 2007, the Çalık Group acquired Sabah and ATV along with other smaller entities for $1.25 billion in 2008. The News Corporation’s Wall Street Journal said in late January that US media giant Time Warner Inc. and private equity firm TPG Capital are also interested in Sabah and ATV.
Murdoch’s reputation as a media tycoon was smeared by a scandal last year that even forced the British government to make a statement regarding its links to the mogul’s media empire. Following the discovery of systemic phone hacking made by Murdoch’s News International, police arrested dozens of reporters as well as a number of executives working for him. »
By Chase Winter for Southeast European Times in New York — 28/09/11
Wrapping up his visit to New York, Erdogan sends a message of universal values and pushes for a common future with Balkan states.
Speaking alongside leaders of the Balkan states at the New York Balkan Forum last week (September 22nd), Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed the cultural and historical ties between Turkey and the Balkans, while calling on the region to overcome its troubled history to co-operate and integrate to form a common future.
« In the future, the Balkans’ most pressing need is to learn a lesson from its experience and start working towards prosperity, development, and peace, » he said, adding that any problems experienced in the Balkans directly reflect on Turkey because of historical ties of brotherhood.
However, the absence of Serbia and Greece at the forum due to the presence of Kosovo and Macedonia, respectively, was a clear reminder of a Balkans still divided.
Intra-Balkan economic integration and investment were key themes, while Turkey’s fast-growing economy and investments in the region provided the backdrop to the growing importance of Turkey.
Describing the Balkans as « Turkey’s door to the West », Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) President Rizanur Meral said Turkey has undergone an economic transformation since 2002, with the world’s second fastest growing economy and a jump in exports from $35 billion to $135 billion.
Balkan countries will need to expand markets due to the small size of domestic markets, Deputy Governor of Turkey’s Central Bank Ihbrahim Turhan said, adding that countries like Turkey and Russia afford opportunities.
According to Timothy Ash, the head of emerging markets research at RBS global banking, as Europe faces financial trouble Turkey can play a role as a driver for Balkan growth. However, he warned, Balkan states will have to do more to attract FDI as European financial resources run dry.
As the largest investor in Kosovo, Turkey plays a unique role in the country due to a « common past, religion, geographic position and the big support we’ve got from the Turkish government » Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhai explained.
Pointing to the free trade agreement between Albania and Turkey, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said that Turkish investment in Albania increased four fold between 2005 and 2010.
Meanwhile, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov said that energy co-operation with Turkey, especially finalising Nabucco, are his country’s top priority.
« Connecting energy markets, making sure we have a southeast European energy market with a common strategy to make sure energy networks are connected, » is one area Mladenov said the Balkan states could make tangible efforts at co-operation and integration.
On the political front, Mladenov said working together to overcome the difficulties of the past is necessary for regional co-operation. « One of the very important examples over the past few years has been the role Turkey has played in pushing and helping countries strengthen their co-operation together, particularly Bosnia and Serbia, » he said.
All the states including Turkey said their future is within the EU and NATO, which will act as an anchor for regional co-operation and security.
However, Erdogan highlighted that for a common future there needs to be more than economic growth and material gain: human rights, democracy, and the rule of law are also of equal importance.
Speaking on Saturday (September 24th) at an event organised by the Turkish Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), Erdogan said the age of autocratic regimes is over and that Turkey would act according to universal principles and the will of the people.
By framing the Balkans as being the heart of Turkey and stressing universal rights, Erdogan tried to place ideology and principles to the forefront of his message.
« Sarajevo’s fate is Edirne’s fate, Skopje’s fate is Kosovo’s fate, Palestine’s fate is Istanbul’s fate, in that case the fate of humanity should become the fate of Ankara, » he said. »
« Last night, İMEDYA’s « 2010 Stars of Economy Awards » were distributed to their rightful owners in an awards ceremony. While SABAH was selected as the year’s most successful newspaper, Aytuğ and Yaşar were also awarded for their contributions.
Sabah received three awards in last night’s ceremony for the 10th Annual İmedya TV and 2010 Stars of Economy Awards », which named Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan as 2010’s « Most Successful Leader. »
SABAH Editor-in-Chief Erdal Şafak received the award granted to the newspaper, while Yüksel Aytuğ was awarded as the most successful magazine columnist.
The third award recipient from SABAH Newspaper is Economy Writer Süleyman Yaşar. Yaşar received the Economy News Ethics Award, which is granted to promote serious, superior, high-quality, moral articles befitting of the sector’s ethics.
A COLOURFUL NIGHT
Last night’s İmedya Awards Ceremony, which was attended by Prime Minister Erdoğan, was a lively event. Held in the Rixos Hotel; amongst the attendees were Deputy Prime Minister’s Bülent Arınç and Cemil Çiçek, State Minister Zafer Çağlayan, former Minister of Transportation Binali Yıldırım, State Minister Egemen Bağış as well as a number of prominent figures from the economy world as well as famous musician Orhan Gencebay. Acclaimed clarinetist Hüsnü Şenlendirici added colour to the evening with a performance. While delivering an opening speech, İmedya Executive Board Chairman Münci İnci addressed Prime Minister Erdoğan by saying, « I love you. » Deputy Prime Minister Çiçek, Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, State Minister Çağlayan, former Minister of Transportation Yıldırım and State Minister Ali Babacan were selected as the most successful ministers in 2010.
Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş was selected as the most successful municipal mayor. The award for the most successful banks for 2010 was awarded to Halk Bank and Garanti Bank. The most successful businessman award went to Ferit Şahenk and Fettah Tamince. Özgü Namal was selected as the most successful television series star for her role in Hanımın Çifliği. The awards for the most successful music stars were granted to Mustafa Ceceli, Enbe Orkestrası, Sertab Erener and Sıla. Meanwhile, the evening’s honorary award was handed to Orhan Gencebay. During his address, Gencebay delivered a message of brotherhood and afterwards Prime Minister Erdogan went and personally congratulated the musician.
The AWARD FOR 2010’S MOST SUCCESSFUL LEADER
After being selected as the most successful leader in 2010, and as he received his award, Erdoğan went on to state, « We do not make promises we cannot fulfill. In the past empty promises were made. Years past and none of these promises came to fruition. » »
« A steamy television period drama about a 16th century sultan has angered conservative Muslims in Turkey and sparked a debate over the portrayal of the past in a country rediscovering its Ottoman heritage.
« The Magnificent Century » chronicles the life of Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled the Ottoman Empire in its golden age.
Scenes which have particularly offended show a young and lusty sultan cavorting in the harem and drinking goblets of wine, pursuits frowned upon by the Muslim faithful for whom the sultan had religious as well as temporal authority.
Producers of the series, which has drawn huge audiences and boosted sales of history books on the period, said they wove in imagined elements to the love story between Suleiman and his favorite slave concubine, and later wife, Hurrem, with the aim of presenting the characters as more human.
But for many pious Turks, including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who leads a government with its roots in political Islam, the series is an insult to the nation’s forebears.
That is not something he welcomes at a time when he is trying to revive Turkish influence in the old Ottoman domains across the Middle East. Tens of thousands of complaints have been filed with the national TV watchdog.
Known as the « Lawgiver » among Turks, Suleiman is regarded as a sacred character, whose rule from 1520 to 1566 marked the height of the Ottoman military, political and economic power, when it stretched from Budapest to Mecca, Algiers to Baghdad.
« OVER-IDEALISATION »
Last month, demonstrators chanting « Allahu Akbar » (God is Greatest) staged a protest outside the offices of the TV channel broadcasting the series, and the state broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council, told producers the show was « contrary to the values of the national and moral values of the society. »
Descendants of the Ottoman dynasty have also criticized it, and a leading scholar said it contained historical inaccuracies.
The critics, though, are distorting history themselves, argues Mustafa Akyol, a columnist who frequently writes on religion and politics for Turkish newspapers.
« The first problem is the over-idealization of the Ottoman Empire, » he said.
He said the Ottomans might have been good « servants of Islam’, but they were also humans with sins and temptations.
« Quite a few Ottoman sultans, for example, were indeed wine drinkers and while their harem was not the orgy ground that filled the fantasies of some early (Western) Orientalists, it was not a sexless monastery either.
The dispute has deep resonances in Turkey. It echoes divisions in a country that straddles Europe and Asia.
Erdogan’s AK Party is trying to forge a more open Islamic identity in a nation, nearly 90 years after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded a determinedly secular and Western-looking Turkish state in the postwar ruins of the Ottoman empire.
The arguments between the religious- and secular-minded over the TV show has also coincided with new restrictions on alcohol sales that have prompted accusations that the AK Party is interfering in people’s lifestyles and imposing Islamic values.
Erdogan called The Magnificent Century « an attempt to insult our past, to treat our history with disrespect and an effort to show our history in a negative light to the younger generations. »
« OTTOMANIA »
The Ottoman Empire was long denigrated by the successors of Ataturk, who ended the sultanate. Official state ideology blamed decadence and religiosity on the part of the Ottoman rulers for Turkey’s humiliating defeat as a German ally in World War One and the carving up of its Middle Eastern empire by Britain and France.
The renewed interest in the glory days of the Ottoman empire comes as Turkey enjoys its greatest prosperity of the modern era, giving a young population increasing pride and confidence.
Power, experts say, has shifted to a new middle class of observant Muslims ready to reinterpret Turkey’s historical narrative, loosening the strictures of Kemalism — the ideology that shaped the Turkish republic in its early years, stressing Ataturk’s vision of secularism and nationalism.
The « Ottomania » gripping Turkey is manifest in museum exhibits on Ottoman art, clothes and calligraphy, restoration of Ottoman buildings and an interest in Ottoman Turkish language courses offered by academies.
Turks’ rediscovery of their past coincides with frustration at the slow pace of Turkey’s accession to the European Union.
Sent into unceremonious exile by the young Turkish republic, descendants of the Ottoman imperial family are also enjoying a rehabilitation of sorts, with surviving members appearing in the media.
« There is a new interest among Turks in rediscovering the Ottoman past, » said Ilber Ortayli, the director of Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace, residence of Ottoman sultans for 400 years. « No nation has the luxury of rejecting its past, especially if you have a magnificent past. Even during the republican years people were proud of their Ottoman history. »
« THE PAST IS AN INVENTED LAND »
Reactions to The Magnificent Century recall the divided reception given to a film in 2008 which depicted Ataturk as a hard-drinking, lonely man beset by doubts.
With the boot on the other foot, Kemalists called that work an insult to the memory of modern Turkey’s founder.
Turkish society often seems polarized between conservative Muslims and secularists, each group viewing their country through different sides of a prism.
« The past is always an invented land, » Nobel prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk said last year. « The revision of the past is always held to the political struggles of a country. »
Turkey’s television supervisors said they received more than 70,000 complaints after the first airing of the drama.
Meral Okay, the screenwriter, said most of the anger stemmed from the fact that the film-makers had opened the doors of the harem to the public.
« We have been saying the same thing from the start. This is a fiction inspired by history, » said Okay. « By entering the harem, we made all those untouchable and respected characters of history closer to us. We gave them a material existence as humans, with fears, anger and passions. »
Fiction or not, viewers were split as to whether it was appropriate to show the revered Suleiman cavorting in the harem.
« I think it hurts our national pride, » said Huseyin Kilic, who runs a tobacco shop in Istanbul. « Young generations look up to those historical figures who have achieved so much. And what do they see on this show? These great men have a weakness for women – and not only one woman, many of them! »
But Sevda Gunes, a 19-year old student, said she did not understand all the fuss over the drama and the sultan.
« I don’t know why people are bothered so much. Besides, it’s just a show. Why can’t people just watch it and have fun? » »
« Erdoğan spoke harshly about recent events currently occupying the agenda, spanning from new alcohol regulations to the debate surrounding the release of Hezbollah members, and asserts that they are part of a campaign directed at the AK Party.
During an address to AK Party District Chairman, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, qualified the recent debate which has surfaced regarding the monument in Kars, new alcohol regulations, the Magnificent Century series and Television and Radio Supreme Council (RTÜK) regulations and the recent release of suspected Hezbollah members as being a smear campaign directed towards the AK Party. « People drink themselves sick and we don’t interfere. Have we torn down a single statue in the past eight years? » Erdoğan emphasizes, « The issue is something else. » Describing recent events as a smear campaign due to the approaching elections, Erdoğan went on to deliver the following messages during a meeting of Justice and Development Party District Chairmen.
• (Magnificent Century) Confidentiality is very significant to us. The moral values of historical figures are extremely important for us. We are a deeply rooted society and state. We are people who have built a civilization and are the very description of civilization. […]
• The CHP Chairman is using the Television and Radio Supreme Council (RTÜK) regulations to lash out at us in the harshest manner. Wouldn’t someone check before they go ahead and accuse of something? The regulation in question was put in place while CHP was in power and it grants the authority, if necessary, for ministers or the Prime Minister to halt a broadcast. The present CHP Chairman is unaware of this. And obviously no one informed him. Now, he goes and holds us responsible for regulations his own party established. He blushes from decency, however unfortunately, we are face to face with an opposition that blushes and then places decency on the shelf. […] »