Address by Mr Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, on the Occasion of the Most Successful Businessman Awards Ceremony
I am honoured to be with you this evening and I would like to thank everyone who made today's event possible. It is a pleasure for me to present the Most Successful Turks Award to the "Most Successful Businessman".
The topic of our today's discussion - "How Turkish Origin Business People and Entrepreneurs affect Europe's Economy" – is interesting and exciting for me. In fact, I am myself an economist by profession – after studying in Turkey as well as at the London School of Economics, I obtained my masters degree at Long Island University, in the United States of America.
The issue of migration is one of my professional interests. Before being elected President of the Assembly, I chaired the Assembly's Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population Affairs. Today, I can say that, over the years, the Council of Europe and the Assembly prepared many reports dealing with various aspects of migration policies, the situation of migrant communities, as well as their role in the countries of origin and destination. Given our focus on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, our top priority is to address the challenges migrants face in enjoying their fundamental rights and freedoms.
Migration is always a "win – win game". Migrant workers participate in the economic growth and the creation of wealth in the countries of destination. At the same time, they contributue to strengthening the economy and improving the living standards in the countries of origin. Most importantly, migrants contribute to developing further our fundamental values and standards by bringing an inter-cultural dimension to our societies.
Today, Europe and the World are facing an unprecedented econmic and financial crisis. Very often, migrants are the first to be affected by growing unemployement and the global economic downturn. This may put some of them in an irregular situation. At the same time, it is evident that migrants may play a postive role in alleviating various aspects of the economic crisis.
In this respect, the Turkish experience is very significant. Turkish businessmen and entrepreneurs of Turkish origin are greatly contributing to the development of Europe's economy in every aspect. Over the past 10 years, Turkey has accomplished a great transformation process and implemented sweeping structural reforms. These accomplishments find their best expression in Turkey's active membership in the G-20 which represents the major economic powers of the world.
As one of the top 10 emerging markets and a member of G-20, Turkey is the 6th largest economy in Europe. The IMF predicts that Turkey may become the 15th largest economy in the world by 2013. According to the OECD projections, Turkey will be the second-largest economy in Europe by 2050. Despite the global financial and economic crisis, Turkey has succeeded in maintaining its high growth rate.
With its young population of more than 74 million, its dynamic and open-market economy, competitive industry and the Customs Union with the EU existing for more than 15 years, Turkey is a country which charms foreign investors.
Today, approximately 5 million Turkish citizens live abroad, of which around 4 million live in the EU countries. Turkish citizens living abroad have significantly contributed to the economic development of the countries they live in. They contribute to their destination countries' political, economic, social and cultural life not only as labour force but also as professionals in many domains such as academic and scientific research, health, media, engineering, law and politics. Numerous Turkish migrant workers have left their labourer identity in the past to establish private businesses. The number of companies established by Turkish businessmen in Western Europe is rising every day. These enterprises provide jobs for many people. According to estimates, their total annual turnover exceeds 50 billion Euros.
Dear colleagues, friends,
In the last ten years, Turkey has changed immensely, becoming a completely different country in every respect. In the next ten years it will surely become even stronger. Therefore, as an accession country to the European Union, it can only strengthen the European Union's economic dynamism and competitiveness. Turkey's eventual membership to the EU will benefit the European business circles and, of course, the Turkish business community and society as a whole!
Today, fighting the economic and financial causes and effects of the crisis, as well as re-launching growth, are the two main issues which are high on the European political agenda. In this environment, a strong economic partner like Turkey is surely, Europe's asset in overcoming the crisis.
And, most importantly, today, I would like to praise the efforts of all those who contribute to this process through their daily work. Therefore, I am very honoured and pleased to present the award to the nominees.