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Cablegate: Turkish Business Relieved Over Start of Eu

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

B. ANKARA 5932

1. (SBU) Summary: As expected, the business community
breathed a collective sigh of relief over the start of EU
accession talks, though many claimed they had always been
confident of the outcome. The business community has been
among a key constituency in support of EU accession, however,
their comments reflect that they were not immune to the
national frustration with perceived EU obstructionism.
Business leaders also tend to be more aware than most Turks
of the difficulties that lie ahead. In private, business
contacts take a more positive tone, recognizing the value of
the EU accession process--rather than just the end result--as
a pro-reform stabilizing force that allows businesses, both
domestic and foreign, to invest and plan for a longer time
horizon. End Summary.

Business Breathes a Sigh of Relief:

2. (SBU) Though many businesspeople insisted they never had
any doubt the EU talks would go forward, Turkish business
leaders breathed a collective sigh of relief over the
long-awaited start of EU accession talks. A taste of what
was in store had the talks not started was the market
sell-off Monday morning in reaction to the negative news flow
(ref b). Once the news flow turned around in the middle of
the day on Monday, Turkish financial markets embarked on an
extended rally--so much so that the Central Bank intervened
in the foreign exchange market on Tuesday to brake the
appreciation of the lira. Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the
President of the Union of Turkish Chambers of Commerce (TOBB)
spoke for the entire business community when he congratulated
the GOT on this "historic" moment.

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--------------------------------------------- ------
Business Leaders Not Immune to National Frustration:
--------------------------------------------- ------

3. (SBU) In their public comments, a number of businessmen
tended to reflect the national mood of wounded pride and
frustration with perceived EU obstructionism. Over the
weekend, perhaps out of a desire to show solidarity with the
Government position and maintain pressure on the EU, TUSIAD,
the Istanbul-based association of leading industrialists,
publicly said it supported the Government's unwillingness to
cross its "red lines." Oguz Satici, the President of the
Exporters' Union said the the negotiations were "a test for
the EU not for us. If the negotiations had not begun it
would damage the interests of the EU worse than those of
Turkey." Ankara Chamber of Industry Chariman Zafer Caglayan
said the EU had tested Turkey's patience and that "the EU is
a road having many bends; it has 35 open drainage ditches."
Most extreme of all--and not representative--was the anti-EU
position of Ankara Chamber of Commerce Chairman Sinan Aygun
who likened the EU process to the notorious Sevres treaty
after World War I, which to the Turkish mind symbolizes
humiliation and subjugation by the western powers.

Market Analysts Accentuate the Positive:

4. (SBU) Market analysts in Istanbul, who speak to a more
financial--and more international--audience than the business
leaders, were uniformly positive on the EU news. Analysts
such as Baturalp Candemir of EFG Istanbul Securities or
Tevfik Aksoy of Deutsche Bank point to the stabilizing impact
of the "EU anchor." Candemir noted that the EU accession
process will "make it difficult for Turkish governments to
abandon the implementation of sound economic policies and
reverse reforms." Echoing a widely-held view among
economists and the business community, Candemir expects a
"positive impact on growth rates, privatization and capital

EU Improves Investment Outlook:

5. (SBU) A number of analysts and business leaders commented
on the favorable impact on investment, including foreign
investment. Privately, many contacts have told us that the
start of the EU accession process allows businesses to invest
and plan with a longer time horizon. Mustafa Alper of the
Foreign Investors' Association (YASED) said the EU decision
was extremely positive for foreign investment, expecting a
pick-up in the pace of FDI. Aclan Acer, of the Dogus Group,
told Istanbul econoff that he expects large inflows of
investment during the accession preriod.

Realism About the Road Ahead:

6. (SBU) Several business leaders noted that the way ahead
would not be easy. Former Istanbul Chamber of Industry
Husamettin Kavi said the accession period would be extremely
difficult for Turkey, particularly with regard to services,
agriculture and environment. Guler Sabanci, CEO of the giant
Sabanci conglomerate, though overall very positive in tone,
noted there would be difficulties from now on.


7. (SBU) The mixed statements by many business leaders
probably reflect a combination of realism about the
difficulties ahead and their frustration as Turkish citizens
over perceived EU goalpost-moving. On the other hand, the
market reaction--a huge rally--is probably a more meaningful
indicator of what the EU accession really means for Turkish
business prospects than the public posturing of the leaders
of business associations. Turkish business had pushed hard
for the GOT to get to October 3 and will clearly reap huge
benefits from Turkey's new status as an accession country, as
well as from the stabilizing and reformist accession process



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