Within the framework of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union (from January until June 2013), TIBDA, the Turkish Irish Business and Development Association, in close cooperation with its umbrella organization, UNITEE, organized a conference dedicated to EU-Turkey relations.
The event was hosted at Trinity College Dublin, located in the heart of the Irish capital.
The conference, entitled ‘Ireland – Turkey: Cooperation on the Future of a Partnership’, welcomed the following speakers: the Turkish ambassador to Ireland, H.E. Necip Egüz; Anne Barrington, Director General, Europe Division, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs; and Quentin Blommaert, Advisor to UNITEE’s President. The conference was chaired by the TIBDA’s President, Ali Yilmaz.
After some introductory words from Mr Yilmaz, H.E. Mr Egüz began his presentation with key economic developments in Turkey. He underscored, among other important figures, that the country was the 17th largest economy in the world and the 6th largest in Europe, and has been showing signs of economic health such as a low public debt of 36 percent. Currently, the Turkish economy is a fully integrated one, demonstrating high growth rates when compared to EU countries. Last but not least, Mr Egüz mentioned Turkey’s ambitious goal of reaching a total foreign trade volume of 500 billion dollars by 2023, the year the country will celebrate its centennial.
Ms Barrington introduced the audience to Ireland’s goals for its presidency and highlighted that the country was a strong supporter of the integration process. Regarding the EU-Turkey issue, she went on to mention that it was in the interests of both parties to see the accession negotiations moving forward. She also mentioned Ireland’s desire to open a new chapter within the negotiations, namely the 22nd chapter dedicated to Regional Policy, during its presidency. Given the current state of the negotiations, concessions are needed from both sides in order to eliminate stumbling blocks such as the Cyprus issue.
Mr Blommaert stated the importance, particularly in times of crisis, of coming up with new opportunities and solutions in order to overcome economic adversity. One such solution is the internationalization of European SMEs. Mr Blommaert depicted the role UNITEE intends to play to that effect, and the relevance of such an organization in making use of untapped market opportunities. By effectively using the potential of its members, namely New European entrepreneurs, who naturally possess a dual linguistic and cultural background, UNITEE has the ability to boost trade between European SMEs.
The audience attending the conference was made up of professionals, students and entrepreneurs, all of whom were interested in trade relations between the EU and Turkey.
After a question and answer session, a networking cocktail was held, during which the speakers and participants had the opportunity to share their views with each other.