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An exclusive interview with:
H.E. Ali BABACAN: “We would like to have our people abroad stay-in this country.”

H.E. Ali BABACAN Below interview is conducted for the 80th Anniversary of the Foundation of Republic of Turkey in New York City on October 29,2003.

Dedicated to:
The 88th Anniversary of the Foundation of Republic of Turkey

Interview#1 - INTRODUCTION: This interview conducted with the former Foreign Minister of Turkey, H.E. Ali Babacan (current, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey) prior the given reception of the 80th Anniversary Celebration of Republic of Turkey along with former Consulate General of Turkey, H.E. Omer Onhon (current Turkish Ambassador to Syria) at the Turkish House in New York City on October 29, 2003.

As a volunteer base organization, the producer and organization had faced multiple difficulties in the following months and years, in particular, with shortage human resources and also new emerging timely issues, caused many years delay.

On the occasion of the 88th Anniversary of Republic of Turkey that energized and inspired to complete this program. More importantly, the core ideas of the formation of Republic of Turkey, has been one of the most imperative and unchangeable historic facts, in particular, for Turkey as well as world-wide. With that the producer has put in her efforts and made the contents and spirit of the two interviews available on the web both as two independent on-line interview, and also as a 28:30 minutes video program.

Overall, we aim to keep the original idea and spirit alive, and in the video program, the two interviews are incorporated along with some scenes from the given reception for the 80th Anniversary Celebration, which took place at the Turkish House on October 29, 2003.

These two interviews and video program are dedicated to the 88th Anniversary Celebration of Republic of Turkey.

The video program "WE BELONG TO EVERYWHERE" is dedicated to: The 88th Anniversary of the Foundation of Republic of Turkey

Produced by Bircan Ünver as one-person production and not-funded.

October 25, 2011, Bircan Ünver, The Light Millennium TV - LMTV -

- Interview#2 - For the VIDEO through Vimeo - For DOWNLOADABLE instant VIDEO
This video interview conducted by Bircan Ünver (October 29, 2003); Transcribed by Cora Fernandez (September 2011), and edited by: Melda Akansel (October 22, 2011).

- Bircan Ünver (B.Ü): Would you share with us the importance of Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Republic of Turkey today?

His Excellency Ali Babacan: Today is October 29 (2003), which is the 80th Anniversary of the foundation of Turkish Republic, which is the date, when more than the history of Turkey started. After hundreds of years of Ottoman Empire, in the area and especially after the First World War, Turkey started a new republic under the leader of the Turk. This was the date when all the major reforms and revolutions in fact started and its revolutions happened in very different areas. In Economy, in Social subjects, in Education, in Political system overall and Turkey was one of the first country in Europe which gave the right of vote for women. Let me talk about the revolution in Turkey. This is a continuous process, where Turkey has been improving continuously and now we are at the point where we have been accelerating of Political and Economic Reforms. And having started in Turkey being in line with the standards of European Union specially and the European Union Membership is the biggest agenda of Turkey right now.

B. Ü.: Would you go back and describe us how was the situation both in the world and in Turkey right before the 1923?
H.E. Babacan Before 1923, the First World War was the major, event that reshaped the region in fact. It was in a way in the end of Ottoman Empire and it started of the new republic. And in the region, if we go back to 1920’s, Turkey as a whole, there were a lot of difficulties, economic difficulties, social difficulties and had a much difference of outlook. The economy was in a very, very bad situation right after the war, huge number of people got lost because of the war especially men, young men, educated men was lost, so after years and years of difficulties, the start of the Republic, the Turkish Republic, was a renewal time for Turkey.

B. U.: What was like the human landscape of Turkey at that time?

A. BABACAN: 1920’s, especially the First World War, were difficult years for Turkey and the region overall. Turkey lost a lot in terms of manpower, a lot of young and educated man died during the war and the country lost a lot of resources. So, the republic, the foundation of the Republic was the start of the renewal time, for the country overall and in the world. Since then Turkish democracy has started to improve more and more. And right now Turkey is a country, which is 98 percent population, is Muslim, but also a country, which is truly democratic. We have a multi-party Democratic System in Turkey. More than 50 parties joined or entered the election of last year for example. So in our standard of democracy is getting closer and closer to that of Europe. We have the even agenda in front of us and we are fulfilling the criteria. So Turkey in terms of the norms and standards is getting closer and closer to the European Union. Overall, whereas the country is in the middle of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, which, could be a very important role model for the region, And if we can prove that this country, a Muslim country is also truly a Democratic one, this may influence the way how the civilizations will evolve from now on. So, our mission as the current turn of Turkey is not just have Turkey a more and more westernized country but also a country which has a better and better position to serve as a role model for the region as well.

B. Ü.: Actually, you mentioned already but if you could restate, how could you compare Turkey’s place and importance at the beginning of the 20th century in the region and also the US?

H.E. A. BABACAN: As I said, the location of Turkey is so crucial. It is in the middle of all these major regions. As I said, Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East. And Turkey has a population of seventy million people, so it is one of the largest countries in Europe and also in the region all over. And also in economic powerhouse, Turkish economy is getting larger and larger and this year the projected per capita of Turkey will be around 3,400 dollars and next year 3,600 or so. So it’s a big market and a country, which has big potential, and also one of the leading, emerging countries in the world and all the financial community are focused on, at least. So, being having such a focal point in that region of the world, it is one of the most important countries for Europe and for the United States also. And Turkey is a country which is, all these given a huge importance and also the role of Turkey in the region will be more and more important. And, as we experienced during the last one-year of direct foreign investment that has shown us, the importance of Turkey has been understood very well by Europe and by United States also.

B. Ü.: Do you have any general information for instance, the percentage of the educated population, and some very rough general statistics to reflect the Turkish portrait?

H.E. BABACAN: First of all, Turkish population is a young population and also in terms of literacy rate, it is more than ninety percent right now. We had a big campaign to increase literacy rate and now it is more than ninety percent, which is vast and big improvement. And we have a good percentage well educated young people, and every year approximately one and a half million people join the workforce in Turkey. Where as in Europe, the population is decreasing, and it is aging. So in five years time, ten years time, the European Union will need a growth engine because by itself, the prospects for the European economy is not very promising. The growth is supposed to be very small for the next ten years or so and the problem in social security is huge, the system is getting more and more costly. So, we believe that the European Union will lead the Turkey, in fact. Thus, the country is very dynamic and also in terms of its system, political system, which is very well functioning, in terms of democracy and also freedom rights and freedoms and standards similar to that of Europe. And such a country will be of big desire for the Europeans. And it will be very soon.

B.Ü.: Beside the young population, what do you consider the most powerful and strongest part of Turkey?

H.E. BABACAN: Again, the location of Turkey is one of the most important assets of the country because for investments, it is becoming more and more attractive, and specially the stronger political and economic stability we hold in Turkey, the more interest we get from investors and we believe that more and more European companies and other foreign companies will be coming and invest in Turkey and choosing Turkey as an export base, which means manufacturing Turkey and distribute and export to the region. So the potential is there, we can ship anything from Turkey to anybody in Europe, Central Asia or the Middle East in just three days. So location wise, it is ideal. Also, as I said, our entrepreneurship is very important to mention, because Turkish entrepreneurs are very active and very strong. They are all around doing business with a lot of different countries doing contracting business and doing a lot of exports and imports is increasing very rapidly. This year our exports are up to twenty three percent compared to last year. The Turkish businessmen are very, very active and this entrepreneurship and they are extremely important for us to sustain our growth in the future.

B.Ü.: What is your message for the 80th Anniversary to Turkish community and also in general?

H.E. BABACAN: We are very happy that the Turkish community in the United States and also in Europe is growing and getting stronger and stronger. We believe that every person from Turkey who is living abroad is an Ambassador of Turkey. And we are happy to see that the more and more we observe the door opens in Turkey, more and more confidence our people abroad feel themselves about their country and they more and more proud of their country. And we believe that the improvement, the advancement is going to continue even in an increasing pace. We are not in a position where we have to have more and more Turkish people to come back to Turkey; instead we would like to have our people abroad stay-in this country. More and more doing business will be effective in the countries that they live in and more and more getting involved with politics in this country. Especially in the European Union you could also observe that more and more Turkish people are joining political parties in Europe that they are being elected as members of the parliament and so forth, and this kind of existence in other countries is an important asset for us.

B.Ü.: Would you like to add anything?

H.E. BABACAN: Thank you.

B.Ü.: Thank you so much for your time.

- . -

For Interview#2

VIDEO available through Vimeo
- For DOWNLOADABLE instant VIDEO - Lightmillennium.Org

- Interview conducted by Bircan Ünver (October 29, 2003); Transcribed by Cora Fernandez (September 2011), and
this on-line interview is edited by: Melda Akansel.
  Bircan Ünver, October 28, 2011, The Light Millennium.

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