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Global crisis and Turkey


The World Economic Forum, or WEF, once again convenes in Istanbul for a regional meeting.
  The forum, which started two days ago and ended yesterday, is important in two aspects. It is, first of all, the first meeting bringing Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East together since the beginning of the global financial crisis.
  It is also a perfect platform to test the meaning of the crisis for civil society. Top Turkish economic officials who are regulars at Davos meetings also attended sessions.
  Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu, shaping up the governing Justice and Development Party's, or AKP, foreign policy, AKP Istanbul Representative Egemen Bağış and Cüneyt Zapsu, who are all advisers to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, joined the meetings. As expected, the most crowded session was about the global crisis. If you ask for my impressions of the first day that ended with a dinner hosted by Erdoğan, I easily can say the following:
West is pessimistic, East is optimistic

  The Western World is more pessimistic about this global crisis.
  Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia are more optimistic.
  I see this clearly when I look at the notes I jotted down in the meeting attended by the state minister for the economy Mehmet Şimşek. The reason is that Victor Alberstadt, from the faculty at Leiden University in the Netherlands that is one of the regulars in Davos meetings, was talking about a long-term recession, even heavier recession due to inflation. But according to Şimşek, the region that includes Turkey will overcome the crisis with less damage.
  Akbank CEO Suzan Sabancı Dinçer and the Doğuş Group CEO Ferit Şahenk are optimistic about the crisis.
  Sabancı believes the global crunch will mostly affect the real estate sector and exports may face a bit of difficulty due to the shrinkage in Europe, but now it is the time to open up exports to new markets.

  The IMF's role

  Regarding the Asian countries, I can say that their main concern is the withdrawal of foreign investors. I heard this from Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Reza Gillani and his Kyrgyz counterpart İgor Chudinov, who want cooperation against terror 
  Though they have not been as shaken by it as developed nations, how will the developing countries overcome this trouble?
  In the meeting Şimşek attended, the role of the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, was described again. It was even implied that “Without the IMF, nothing is possible”.
  As Turkey is preparing to again shake hands with the IMF, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or EBRD, is now active in Turkey as of Oct.30, the bank that assisted countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Hungary to overcome the crisis with the least damage possible.
  Mirow stressed that they are in Turkey to help provide “economic stability at difficult times.”
  Even if Turkey signs a new stand-by agreement with the IMF, the EBRD will provide assistance to small- and medium-sized enterprises and to the public; therefore the bank may help Turkey to breathe easily.  


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