End of the year, 2014 around the corner. Looking through my office window and wonder why I did not join my visiting house guest, who is now roaming around beautiful Istanbul. The sky is blue; it is sunny and 13 degrees. Do not be mistaken, the weather is not always like this, even not in Istanbul. Less than two weeks ago Istanbul was covered in 10 cm snow. Apparently snow is a normal weather phenomenon in Istanbul, but for me it came as a big and unwelcome surprise; after 10 years in Russia, Latvia and Norway I have had my share of snow and ice.
However, we should concentrate on the positive and enjoy the sunny reality of this moment. A group of green parrots is noisily moving in the trees in the garden of the Consulate. These birds have no apparent concerns, unlike us humans, who tend to worry about (too) many things.
Looking ahead at 2014 we see a world economy that is definitely (and finally….) turning around, with an expected growth of almost 4%. This is very good news for both the Netherlands and Turkey. In 2014 the Dutch economy will start to grow again; Turkey will maintain its 4-5% growth rate.
Turkey is entering 2014 as the 17th economy globally with a growth of 4.3% for 2013 in its pockets, a budget deficit of just over 1%, but also with a weakening Lira and a too high current account deficit.
The long term perspective of the Turkish economy remains solid and Turkey is well under way to become one of the top-4 economies in Europe. Yes, more reforms are needed and investments in human capital and R&D are key for Turkey’s future. Some of the reforms will be difficult, but they are essential in order for Turkey to move forward.
Politically Turkey had an exciting year. With the 2014 elections ahead of us, we can expect more turbulence in the local political scene with, most likely, some impact on the economic performance as well. In reality the direct correlation between politics and economics is (fortunately) less than often perceived and feared. So I expect relatively little impact of the political scene on the economic reality.
At our Consulate we will remain focused on our key tasks, including economic diplomacy and consular services. We reach out to the public with more social media, extending our “Palais de Hollande” program, easing of visa rules, and organizing business delegations to provinces in Western Turkey.
And we will concentrate on sharing the importance of the Turkey narrative, as 1000’s of daily issues and interests connect Turkey and the EU. The EU is surrounded by 20+ countries, from Iceland to Morocco, all of them essential and life long partners of the EU, with a joint past, present and future; all of them as relevant for our future as any EU member state. Of these 20+ countries two stand out: Russia and Turkey. And of these two the only one that is candidate member of the EU is Turkey.
Turkey offers a lot of potential, as a market, as a partner and as a bridge to the Middle East, the Black Sea and Central Asia. More and more Dutch companies realize this. The almost 400.000 Dutch with Turkish roots will be instrumental in intensifying our economic relations.
Do I have any good resolutions for the New Year? Blog wise? Yes, to write a blog at least every two weeks in 2014. Enough topics to cover!
Mutlu Yillar! And good health and happiness to you and your beloved ones.