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Cablegate: Leading Turkish Business Council Elects New Chairwoman

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DE RUEHIT #0034 0261219
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P 261219Z JAN 10
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9471
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASH DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY

UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000034

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SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN EINT ETRD PHUM PREL TU
SUBJECT: LEADING TURKISH BUSINESS COUNCIL ELECTS NEW CHAIRWOMAN

1. (SBU) (Summary). To no one's surprise, on January 19
leading Turkish NGO TUSIAD (Turkish Industrialists and
Businessmen's Association) elected Umit Boyner as its new
Chair, replacing outgoing Chairwoman Arzuhan Dogan Yalcindag.
A new board of directors was also elected. The election
took place during TUSIAD's 40th ordinary general assembly
meeting, with Boyner and the new board receiving 198 votes
out of a total of 200. In her acceptance remarks Boyner
alluded to Turkey's lack of a comprehensive strategy to deal
effectively with issues like unemployment, adding that the
lack of a healthy environment in which to discuss this is
"not an acceptable situation." End summary.

TUSIHAD?
--------

2. (U) Boyner, whose professional portfolio includes
responsibility for financing and investments at Boyner
Holding, a Turkish retail empire that includes department
stores and clothing manufacture and distribution, is the
second consecutive woman to chair TUSIHAD, prompting quips
that the association should change its name to TUSIHAD
(Turkish Industrialists and Business (woman's) Association).
The new chairwoman, born in 1963, attended high school and
the University of Rochester in the United States, and spent
20 years at Chemical Bank. At Boyner Holding she developed
Advantage, Turkey's most successful credit card brand, which
was sold to HSBC in 2002 for USD 75 million.

NEW BOARD MEMBERS
-----------------

3. (U) Elected to the Board of Directors as vice-chairs
were Haluk Dincer, Chairman of Sabanci Holding Retail Group
and Tayfun Bayazit, Koc Holding Banking and Insurance Group
President. Dincer is also the Chairman of TAIK
(Turkish-American Business Council), a quasi-governmental
body engaged on bilateral economic relations with the United
States. Cansen Basaran Symes, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Turkey
President, will be TUSIAD's new Treasurer and Zafer Ali Yavan
will remain TUSIAD's Secretary General. The other newly
elected Board members were Lucien Arkas, Chairman of Arkas
Holding; Mehmet Ali Aydinlar, Chairman of Acibadem Health
Group; Erman Ilicak, Chairman of Ronesans Construction; Ali
Kibar, Chairman and CEO of Kibar Holding; Volkan Vural, a
Dogan Holding consultant and retired Ambassador, and Muharrem
Yilmaz, Chairman of Sutas.

THE NEW CHAIR'S PRIORITIES
--------------------------

4. (SBU) Boyner told TUSIAD members in Istanbul of the
group's determination to pursue full EU membership for
Turkey. She emphasized TUSIAD's support for "full
democratization," adding that Turkey no longer wants to be
ruled by what she termed a "coup d'Qtat Constitution." She
also called for the annulment of the 10 percent election
threshold, which prevents small parties in Turkey from
sending deputies to Parliament.

5. (SBU) The new TUSIAD Chair stated that it is
"unacceptable" for a G-20 member not to have a coherent
strategy on how it will build its economic future, and added
that TUSIAD will "emphasize the need to struggle against the
informal economy and to develop innovative capacity." She
also reaffirmed her organization's traditional support for
Turkey's EU membership, and the importance of the IMF as a
fiscal anchor for Turkey.

6. (SBU) Comment. Representing the country's most
economically powerful players, TUSIAD is still probably
Turkey's best known business NGO, and it remains a bastion of
secularism with a distinctly pro-Western orientation. Until
a few years ago many members of Turkey's business elite felt
that they could communicate with the AKP, and they supported
it when they felt that it was serving well Turkey's economy.
The AKP's ongoing tax case against Dogan Holding has had a
somewhat chilling effect on Turkey's upper level business
community, including within TUSIAD, where the outgoing Chair
is the daughter of Aydin Dogan. The somewhat combative tone
of Boyner's first remarks as Chairwoman, however, may
foreshadow more vocal criticism of the ruling party by the
business elite, and sharpening public debate over GOT
economic policy and the country's investment climate.

WIENER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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