The Republic's 100-year vision is 'exports'

Published 24.05.2019 20:28
Updated 25.05.2019 01:00

We have celebrated the 100th anniversary of May 19, 1919, the first step in the War of Independence, which represents the heroic transformation of the Ottoman Empire, completing its life after going through the severe trauma caused by the global colonialism competition in the region, to the Republic of Turkey. It was an invaluable experience to be in Samsun on the 100th anniversary of the first steps in the establishment of our Republic, of the first steps of the process that rendered a nation one and together for a historic liberation struggle, to share such indescribable emotions and thoughts.

The fire that started in Samsun in 1919 brought the Republic to Turkey in 1923. Beyond representing a new political model, the Republic meant that Turkish society focused on the future with a new understanding and that the Turkish economy gained a new development model.

While Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, and the Constituent Assembly of the Republic were constituting the building blocks of the National Development Plan, similar to how they restructured and led a major industrialization move, they took a step that should be taken as highly visionary, looking back at that era, and named export as one of the building blocks of modern Turkey. Just 17 days after April 23, 1920, on May 10, 1920, our Assembly made the decision: "It is decided that exports are unconditionally and under any circumstance liberated and that no office except the Cabinet of Ministers can disrupt, limit, or ban this freedom."

Turkey, with this vision, has sustained national development with determination over the last 95 years. The Democratic Party, Celal Bayar, and Adnan Menderes in the 1950s, and Turgut Özal in the 1980s, who took the first and most effective steps for the transition to an "outward-oriented growth model," were aware that they needed to make export an indispensable part of sustainable growth and employment targets.

Unfortunately, we wasted the 1960s, '70s and '90s with internal economic and political turmoil and crises. This is why we could do justice to the export perspective that Atatürk led 100 years ago, his export-focused vision, only in the last 17 years.

With the adamant stance of President Recep Tayyip Edoğan, Turkey continues to take the right steps to drive exports, which were barely above $30 billion in the 2000s, to $190 Billion in 2019. Our 90,000 good and service exports, the field soldiers of Turkey's trade diplomacy, have raised the ratio of exports to the national income to 25%. When we remember that the world average is 30%, and China and India are below 20%, we are justifiably proud of the resurrection, whose first foundations were laid 100 years ago, that turned into a global movement, making us proud. We will carry our republic to 2023, its 100th anniversary, with the same tenacity and determination.

Europe: From popularity to populism?

As Turkey's national, regional and global agenda for issues are highly busy this week, the elections held this week where the lawmakers of the European Parliament and the EU Commission president would be elected, which might be a breaking point for the future of the European Union project, were left in the shadows. All the elite politicians, bureaucrats and academics of the EU are following this week's elections in worry with regards to the EU's future in terms of preserving Europe's popularity or dragging it into populism.

In essence, the surveys and research conducted since the beginning of the year point to the fact that, for the first time in the EU's history, the percent of seats in the parliament from right-wing and far-left political movements, against the EU project, can reach up to 28%. In all 28 EU member states, the economic and political situation is felt 30% worse than the actual situation. This rate even exceeds 40% in some countries. In such an environment where negative perceptions are so strong, the fact that EU citizens' use of their votes in anger, as if punishing the system, in favor of more radical parties, could bring a series of problems in the near future for the EU.

European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Pierre Moscovici's statement: "For the first time since its creation we've got enemies of Europe…" confirms these concerns. EU intellectuals are also worried that the increase in the votes of those suspicious of the EU project will cause EU support to also divide within themselves. The Eurocrats openly expressed their expectation that populists, which they refer to as nationalists and extreme rightists, would be able to achieve great success in the elections for the European Parliament.

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