THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Istanbul, Turkey) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release November 16,1999
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENT DEMIREL AT LUNCHEON MEETING OF THE TURKISH BUSINESS COUNCIL The Imperial Chalet Istanbul, Turkey
3:10 P.M. (L)
PRESIDENT DEMIREL: President Clinton, distinguished guests. It's a great pleasure for me to address such a distinguished audience. At the outset, I would like to welcome President Clinton and the U.S. delegation to Istanbul. This is a global city that fully represents the rich history and great dynamism of our country. With its splendor, historical heritage and spirit of tolerance, Istanbul has always contributed greatly to the blossoming of the universal civilization. On the eve of a historic summit, your State Visit to Turkey becomes all the more memorable and timely.
I wish to take a moment, Mr. President, to express my sincere appreciation for your relentless efforts to staying in the bonds of partnership between our two friendly nations. Also, your remarkable contributions in the post-Cold War era, to the extension of our shared values and principles around the globe in general. And in our wider region, in particular, deserve a special praise. Furthermore, I strongly believe that history will register you in its most privileged pages for not only leading your nation through its strongest economic growth and prosperity in modern times, but also for promoting economic liberties and opportunities around the whole world.
So, Mr. President, dear friend, let me simply say that you have done a great job, and welcome again to our country. (Applause.)
Let me go on by elaborating the new potentials and promises that are before us. First, with the disappearance of the Iron Curtain, the historic seacoast is reappearing. Three seas, namely, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, are embracing one another with new transport telecommunication and Asian corridors. Europe meets Asia once again through Euro-Asia. Indeed, the concept of Eurasia has become an undeniable political reality. The prospect of peace in the Middle East seems to be within reach more than ever.
The Balkans are making progress in the integration with Europe. All these developments herald the dawn of a new era of peace, cooperation and prosperity in our wider region. Indeed, globalization of economy and universalization of law have become two interrelated phenomenon. Hence, Turkey has made fundamental arrangements in its legal structures to fully integrate with the world economy and to make sure of the financial transparency.
We have achieved considerable progress in this direction. Turkish entrepreneurs now produce for the global markets. They are fully aware of the importance of being able to compete with the rest of the world. Turkey has taken steps toward updating and harmonizing legislation with universally acclaimed principles, both in the context of adopting to the Customs Union, with the European Union, and in compliance with these commitments under the World Trade Organization.
Important legislation has already been put into force, such as protection of intellectual and industrial property rights, consumer protection, competition rules and, last but not least, the recognition of the international arbitration. All these clearly demonstrate that Turkey is geared towards becoming a more competitive and, at the same time, a business friendly market.
In fact, today, Turkey has become a regional leader in every sense, and a global state, with its achievements and potentials. It has also become an important economic powerhouse in its geography. It has initiated and is a founding member of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization and D-8. Thus, with this central and pioneering role in an economic cooperation network covering three continents and 24 countries, spanning all the way from the Atlantic to the Bering Sea, Turkey promotes the virtues of free trade.
Turkey is the 16th largest economy in the world, with a $400 billion total per capita GNP. It is the largest economy in the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Caspian basins, Central Asia and the Middle East. Our average growth rate in the past 30 years has been almost 5 percent. Today, more than 90 percent of our exports are industrial goods. Total trade volume of Turkey has reached $75 billion. The Turkish entrepreneurs are selling goods to 135 countries, investing or undertaking construction in 53 countries. The total investments in Europe of the Turks living in Europe is over $7 billion.
In the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Central Asian regions, more than 4,000 Turkish firms have undertaken projects worth more than $10 billion. The investment of the Turkish private enterprises in the Russian Federation alone amount to $10 billion. Turkey has a highly sophisticated financial services industry. The Turkish stock exchange is one of the world's best-performing emerging markets. The market capitalization of the firms registered in the stock exchange reached $57 billion this year. Major infrastructural projects of the reappearing sea coast are being built through Turkey. In the next 30 years, we'll spend $150 billion in defense industry projects alone.
As these achievements clearly demonstrate, Turkey is a regional power of peace, moderation, stability and prosperity in a turbulent region, stretching from the Balkans to the Caucasus, from the Middle East to Central Asia, full of conflicts and instability. In this respect, it should be taken into consideration that by inviting Turkey to join G-20's forum, the -- Committee has confirmed Turkey's statute as a major emerging economic power and a reliable business partner.
With regard to our bilateral communications, I believe that the deep rooted relations between Turkey and the United States have gained a new dimension with the signing of the trade and investment framework agreement. The establishment of qualifying industrial zone in Eastern and Southeastern of Turkey, within the context of this agreement, similar to the ones at the border of Israel and Jordan, will offer new opportunities for both sides and will no doubt increase joint Turkish-U.S. investments, aimed at exporting to the Turk countries or the Middle East and the Euro-Asia.
I would also like to remark briefly on the Southeastern Anatolia project, which is one of the largest irrigation and development projects in the world that will greatly increase Turkey's agriculture production by the time it's completed. If you look at this project from the larger perspective, as you must, increased production and food security in a turbulent area, with a large population is one of the pillars on which long-term stability and peace will be built up. Therefore, new prosperity in a traditionally less developed area will have not only economic benefits, but also profound social effects. We have so far spent $60 million in this project and we'll spend another $60 million in the years ahead.
In addition to its vast agribusiness opportunities, the Southeastern Anatolia project consists of advantageous investment areas for foreign capital in energy, transportation, communication, education, health and animal breeding sectors.
We believe United States firms are particularly well-placed to provide technology, products and training that Turkey needs in this context. The new regional and global role of Turkey is further highlighted by its growing significance in the new energy equation that has emerged in the Euro-Asian continent. Turkey has a double advantage in this new global game.
On one end, as the largest and the fastest-growing economy in this region, it's a major energy market with a 30-year, $128-billion worth of an investment program currently in place. On the other hand, it's a key country in the transportation of the Caspian-based oil, and natural gas resources to the world markets.
The pivotal projects in this framework are, as you all know, the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline project and the trans-Caspian natural gas pipeline project. These projects offer the most economic, shortest and safest alternative for energy transportation. They are also the only projects that have safeguarded energy security in Euro-Asia, ensuring the continuation of the recently-emerged geo-political pluralism in this region.
Our greatest work is about to be crowned, with the signing of the relevant agreements on these two projects. President Clinton will sign them, as witnessed, indeed, in all the efforts towards rapidly releasing. These projects -- the active support of the government of the United States has been exemplary.
I would like to take a moment to thank President Clinton for his personal role in his government's efforts to support and promote the idea of building the east-west, and Asian corridor, which will have a vital bearing on the future prosperity of Euro-Asia. We are determined to continue to work closely with the United States on these projects. (Applause.)
Mr. President, both the United States and Turkey are a strong supporter of free market and economic liberties; therefore, when we talk about the future of Turkish-American economic cooperation, our respective business communities should be seen as the flag-bearers. Before concluding, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the Turkish and American business communities for their commendable efforts in discharging their responsibilities. We must keep up with their pioneering spirit. We must remove all the obstacles in their way. We must be inspired by their creativity and dynamism.
Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. First, to my good friend President Demirel, thank you for your remarks and for the wonderful visit that you have hosted for Hillary and Chelsea and me and our entire American party, culminating in the magnificent dinner last night and the presentation of the award, which I will treasure always.
Thank you, Mr. Coach, for gathering this distinguished group of Turkish business leaders. To the American delegation here, Secretary Albright and others, thank you very much for being here. And I want to say a special word of appreciation to Senator Nancy Kassebaum-Baker for her willingness to lead this group. The presence of Nancy and her husband, Senator Howard Baker, here -- literally, two of the most outstanding members of the United States Senate since the Second World War -- is a great tribute to the importance of the relationships between the United States and Turkey. I am grateful for their service to our country and grateful for their leadership. And Nancy, thank you very much for your giving your time to this important endeavor. I thank you very much. (Applause.)
I am honored to be in this historic city of two continents and three empires, now the modern hub of Turkey's free market democracy. I am thrilled to be in this magnificent building, in this beautiful room. It's almost enough to make you miss the empire. (Laughter.) Unfortunately, at least if we still had the empire, I'm sure I wouldn't be invited to lunch here today, so -- (laughter) -- I think we're getting the best of both worlds.
I'm honored to be with all of you who have contributed so much to the growth and strength of this country. I thank the Turkish-U.S. Business Council and the American Turkish Council for all they have done to promote ties between our two nations and to improve the welfare of our peoples.
President Demirel has said that Turkey is situated at the center of the world. That was true in ancient times; it was true in the 20th century even after the end of the Ottoman Empire. It will be even more true in the 21st century. What Turkey does, and what we do together in the coming years will help to determine whether stability takes roots in the Balkans and the Aegean; whether true and lasting peace comes to the people of the Middle East; whether democratic transformations in the states of the former Soviet empire, from the Caucasus to Central Asia, actually succeeds.
Clearly, economic developments will have a lot to do with our success in all these endeavors. The steps we take together today to improve the climate for trade, investment and jobs will help to bring this region together, to reduce tensions, to strengthen democratic governments. In turn, the strengthening of freedom and stability will do even more to spur prosperity.
There is hardly a place in the world where the intersection of politics and economics is more clearly complete. Therefore, I would like to take just a couple of moments to make a few points about what we have been doing and where we are headed together. First, let me applaud the bold economic reforms taken by Turkey under Prime Minister Ecevit, including landmark legislation on Social Security, international arbitration, banking regulation and the budget.
These are part of a global trend of opening markets, strengthening financial stability and imposing fiscal discipline, while working to ensure that society's most vulnerable are not left behind. These measures will improve the climate for trade and investment and will lead to more jobs and higher incomes for the people of Turkey.
Second, I am very pleased, to echo President Demirel, that trade between our two countries has reached new heights, rising 50 percent in the last five years alone, now surpassing $6 billion. We are the fourth-largest supplier of exports to Turkey and the second largest market for exports from Turkey.
Following the August earthquake and the pressures it put on the economy here, we have gone the extra mile to flexible to Turkish textile exports, and recently taken important steps to further expand trade and investment between our two countries. In September, during Prime Minister Ecevit's visit, we signed a trade and investment framework agreement to cut through red tape and work through disagreements in our trading relationship. Our Overseas Private Investment Corporation will soon double its activity in Turkey to more than $1 billion. Our Export-Import Bank will delegate $1 billion in lending authority to 12 Turkish banks -- powerful evidence of our confidence in Turkey's economy, and our commitment to strengthen it. In turn, Turkey's decision to open its market to cattle imports will benefit United States ranchers and Turkish consumers.
We're also on the verge of completing some major agreements -- a $30-million contract for a vessel-tracking system to help keep the crowded Bosphorus safe and protect the environment; a framework agreement for joint irrigation projects in southeastern Turkey, and a half-dozen power plants worth some $5 billion. These projects will be good for both countries, and I hope we can conclude all of them soon.
Third, we are moving ahead, as the President said, to build energy security in the new century. We've made great strides toward the proposed Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the trans-Caspian gas pipeline. These will help to diversify our sources of energy and help the newly-independent countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia stand on their own feet. They will put Turkey, our trusted ally, front and center in the effort to create a secure energy future.
I'll bet if you polled the citizens of the United States and Turkey, over 90 percent of them would never have heard of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline, or the trans-Caspian gas pipeline. But if we do this right, 20 years from now, 90 percent of them will look back and say, thank you for making a good decision at a critical time. (Applause.)
Fourth, greater economic cooperation and integration is vital to the future of Turkey and its southeastern European neighbors. A central challenge, of course, is building stronger economic ties between Turkey and Greece as a part of a larger effort for reconciliation and cooperation between your two countries. I am very pleased the private sector is leading the way. But the Turkish-Greek Business Council is back in business, and both nations are talking about increasing bilateral trade and tourism.
Political and economic forces here, again, reinforce each other. In order for our two NATO allies, Greece and Turkey, to be full partners in the European Union, bilateral relationships must improve. In order for southeastern Europe to overcome the Balkan wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, and the legacy of communism in the other states of the southeast, the nations of the region must draw closer to each other, and then together draw closer to the new Europe.
Again, I say these efforts can only succeed if Greece and Turkey are leading the effort. Because of the earthquakes and the human response to them by both Turks and Greeks; because of the leadership -- outstanding leadership -- in the Turkish and Greek governments; because of the Cyprus talks just announced -- we now have a genuine opportunity for fundamental and enduring reconciliations between your two lands. I will do everything I can to help you seize this chance. I believe seizing this chance will have enormous economic, as well as political, benefit to the ordinary citizens of Turkey well into the next century.
The last point I want to make is this: if we want strong economic growth and lasting prosperity, it is essential that we work everywhere to deepen freedom and democracy -- in our own countries and around the world. I applaud the strides Turkey is making in this regard, not because the Americans or the Europeans want it, but because it's the right thing for the Turkish people. And I encourage further progress in these areas, such as freedom of expression, because it is right, and because we in America have a great stake in your stability, in Turkey's ability to reap the full benefits of the information age and the global economy, in Turkey's full integration in Europe, in Turkey's full success as a modern, prosperous, secular society bridging East and West.
I am proud that we are working as partners with you to build better lives for our citizens, and I am proud to have had the opportunity to represent the people of the United States on this historic trip.
I would like to close by asking my fellow Americans to join me in a toast to President Demirel, the leaders of this organization, and the people of our host nation, Turkey. (Applause.)
(A toast is offered.) (Applause.)
This is a beautiful painting. Wait, I want to show this. You know, I just bought a new home. (Laughter.) In my attempt to fulfill the last ambition of my life, I am trying to follow in the steps of Senator Howard Baker and become the husband of a United States Senator. And this will look very good in that home. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 3:40 P.M. (L)