Latest developments in reconciliation raise hopes for regional economy
by İbrahim Acar - Betül Alakent - Metin Can
ISTANBULMar 03, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by İbrahim Acar - Betül Alakent - Metin Can
Mar 03, 2015 12:00 am
The government's announcement of a new phase in the reconciliation process with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) on the weekend and the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's call for disarmament generated great excitement in eastern and southeastern Anatolia. According to a mini survey that was conducted to investigate the economic implications of this development in the region, 80 percent of the businessmen who were surveyed expressed their belief in the progress of the reconciliation process and 85 percent of respondents said that the success of the reconciliation process would increase investments in agriculture, textiles and tourism.
In response to the question, "Will the reconciliation process continue?" almost 80 percent of businessmen who participated in the survey answered, "yes," attributing the belief to the "persistent" policies of the government and the HDP. According to the respondents, the reconciliation process has taken a step forward with the joint declaration by government and HDP. The question of whether the reconciliation process will drive investments up received affirmative answers from 85 percent of respondents, who said they have felt the positive impact of the reconciliation process on the economy over the past two years.
According to the survey results, after the reconciliation process is finalized, agriculture, textiles, tourism and mining will stand out as the most promising industries in eastern and southeastern Anatolia. Although the businessmen in the survey said that the reconciliation process is a great motivation on its own, they suggested that the government should develop a new policy for the region. The expansion of existing incentives was demanded by 50 percent of respondents, 40 percent found existing incentives satisfactory and the remaining 10 percent found them inadequate.
Şahismail Bedirhanoğlu, the head of the Federation of Eastern and Southeastern Industrialists' and Businessmen's Associations (DOGÜNSİFED), said that confidence in the reconciliation process has been bolstered again, and that if disarmament is achieved, it would contribute to investments in the region.
Süleyman Çağlı, the president of the Cizre Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said that the end of terrorism would increase agriculture and construction investments in the region. According to the head of the Batman Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Kadir Demir, there were 56 factories in Batman two years ago, but now entrepreneurs are seeking empty land for 130 projects in the Organized Industrial Zone. Ahmet Sayar, the head of the Diyarbakır Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said that Diyarbakır has the appropriate conditions for construction, chemicals, textiles and agriculture, suggesting that infrastructure investments and incentives should be improved.
E. Sabri Ertekin, the president of the Şanlıurfa Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said that the historic call for disarmament has lent impetus to the lingering reconciliation process, which will offer good opportunities of renewable energy and will end the illegal use of electricity in the region.
The head of the Şırnak Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Osman Geliş, said that Şırnak, which is now positioned in the sixth zone, will be upgraded to the second zone soon after the reconciliation process is complete. He also suggested that Mount Cudi should be opened to tourism. Güven Kuzu, the president of the Siirt Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said that if the reconciliation process keeps on track, investments in textiles and agriculture will boom, and demanded grants and zero-interest loans for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Each province demands special incentive arrangements in line with their potential. Businessmen from Siirt request incentives for the mining industry, particularly for copper mining. Entrepreneurs from Şırnak expect a breakthrough in the tourism sector and demand regulations to invigorate tourism on Mount Cudi, which was previously associated with terrorism. Şırnak also has proper conditions for construction materials. Businessmen from Şanlıurfa, which offers good opportunities for tourism and renewable energy, want insurance and tax relief periods to be prolonged to 10 years from seven. Diyarbakır's businessmen have demanded the completion of infrastructural investments, and say that if GAP's agricultural vision is reconstructed, the city could compete with the Netherlands, which exports $100 billion worth of agricultural products a year.