Social and Economic Policy Priorities for East and Southeast Anatolia Regions
Welcoming Remarks by
Mahmood A. Ayub
Dedeman Hotel, Ankara
Distinguished members of parliament, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to welcome you today to the presentation of the Report entitled “Social and Economic Priorities for East and Southeast Anatolia Regions.”
This is an independent Report which has been prepared by a team of distinguished scholars under the overall coordination of Dr. Orhan Kurmus and the Economic and Social Studies Foundation of Turkey – TESEV.
The report will be presented in detail by its authors. Therefore I will not discuss its contents. Let me instead emphasize two critical aspects of today’s gathering.
Distinguished members of parliament, ladies and gentlemen,
My first point concerns the issue of regional development within the context of Turkey’s overall development trends.
As you all know, Turkey’s economic growth performance of the past few years has been remarkable. As an OECD member country it is one of the largest economies in the world with very great potential for further growth. Turkey’s developmental levels are also progressing steadily. For example, in the recently released Global Human Development Report of UNDP, Turkey’s HD index ranking has advanced up two positions from last year. Turkey will also meet almost all of its MDG targets by 2015.
Despite this encouraging situation, Turkey’s people, its planners, policy makers and politicians know only too well that regional and gender based disparities continue to present “the fault lines” of Turkey’s otherwise remarkable growth and development levels. Successive National Human Development Reports and the State Planning Organization’s provincial data on social and economic indicators underline forcefully this fault line of development disparities.
Global experience and practice show that growth and development under the “business as usual” trends cannot remedy the imbalances and inequalities inherent in a country’s social and economic structure. Unless specific measures are taken the gender and regional disparities of Turkey’s development will persist.
The Report which is launched today poses some forceful questions in this connection: what are the measures in local economic growth, in rural productivity and in social policy that would create the opportunities for these regions to catch up with Turkey’s fast paced and remarkable aggregate growth and development? Instead of revolving around the traditional policy instruments, the report makes some poignant recommendations for front loading investments in these regions so that their growth and developmental levels can catch up with national aggregates.
Secondly, Ladies and Gentlemen, today’s presentation is significant in terms of its design and composition.
For any policy analysis and recommendation, such as those presented in this Report, the determining factor on whether they will be considered, rejected or adopted, is political ownership and will. Today, a leading think tank institution –TESEV-and its network of learned analysts will present analysis and recommendations. It is essentially the political will of the country that will be their final judge. I am therefore pleased and honored to note that distinguished members of Turkey’s political parties and members of parliament are here today to reflect on these recommendations.
The Report may indeed be an opportunity for party representatives to look at some of the current policy instruments such as the current educational assistance to families or incentives for enterprises from the perspective of whether they are bridging the social and economic divides or whether they can indeed even bolster state and society relations in these regions.
You may recall from the coverage of international media that Brazil recently held general elections. In the democratic competition between political parties in that country, the largest policy instrument for Brazil’s poverty reduction programs, the Bolsa Scola, was a major factor in the parties’ positioning and campaigns. Parties engaged in criticisms, support, recommendations around this policy instrument and the electorate judged whose approach best fit their own demands.
The UNDP in Turkey has been a partner to the Government of Turkey in regional development since 1996. Our collaboration started with support to the shift of the Government’s Southeast Anatolia Project, other wise known as GAP, from an investment in dams and infrastructure towards projects and programs in the sustainable human development area. This included specific measures for the internally displaced persons, for women, children and youth as well as targeted business development services through the EC funded Entrepreneurship Support Centers –GİDEMS.
Since 1998, we have actively supported the East Anatolia Development Program – DAKAP – through innovative approaches in participatory rural development, rural tourism and entrepreneurship promotion. Based on this experience in Turkey and our experience in EU accession countries, the UNDP stands ready to support the design and implementation of new policy instruments – including of course those that may be derived from the recommendations of this Report. Our sincere hope is that these policy instruments will help translate national growth and development successes into benefits for the people of Turkey’s East and Southeast Anatolia regions.
I wish to finish by thanking TESEV and Dr. Orhan Kurmuş and all the authors for compiling the policy analysis and recommendations contained in this Report. In particular, allow me to thank for the contributions of Mr. Kudbettin Arzu of the Diyarbakir Chamber of Commerce and other business representatives from the region who provided formative comments from the perspective of regional economic activity. I also wish to thank the Economic Development Foundation president Mr. Davut Ökütçü for his incisive comments as well as the representatives of DİSK and HAK İŞ who presented the labor syndicates’ perspectives. Finally, the Report benefits greatly from the views and exchanges provided by the State Planning Organization and the GAP Regional Development Administration. To them I am as usual, very thankful.
Look forward to a successful meeting.