BODRUM, Muğla - Hürriyet Daily News
TÜSİAD Chairwoman Ümit Boyner addresses journalists in Bodrum, Muğla, on Friday. AA photo
Turkey’s ban on public-servants wearing headscarves should be broadly discussed because it directly affects unemployment, according to the chairwoman of Turkey’s largest business organization.
Speaking Friday at a function in Bodrum, a tourist hub on the Aegean coast, Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association, or TÜSİAD, head Ümit Boyner’s statement followed Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç’s criticism of the organization on the private channel NTV on Thursday.
In response to a statement earlier in the week from Boyner that Turkey was not a secular country, that it should become accustomed to wearing the headscarf in public institutions and that the problem should be solved through constitutional change, Arınç accused Boyner of having “lost all credibility.”
“All I [asked for] was a democratic discussion,” Boyner said during her Bodrum speech, following a presidential council meeting with the Turkish Enterprise and Business Federation, or Türkonfed.
While the reasons behind Arınç’s accusation remained unclear, Boyner rejected commenting further on the issue.
TÜSİAD and the referendum
The Sept. 12 referendum on constitutional reform revealed that many different layers of society want a new constitution, Boyner said. “This new constitution should be a social contract of a broad consensus. Turkey is preparing for an election in June 2011. We should never forget that as we recover from the global crisis, we remain sensitive to the economy.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized TÜSİAD harshly before the referendum, as the association refused to take a public stand on the issue unlike many business organizations which announced their support of a “yes” vote.
Boyner said late Thursday that TÜSİAD shared ideas on every single article of the constitutional amendments package, but preferred not to take a stand.
Role of independent organizations
Independent regulation has played a great role in Turkey’s recovery from the crisis, Boyner said.
“Independent institutions, the Central Bank in particular, contributed much [to the recovery]. These have supported the weaker aspects of the market economy and played an important role in establishing a sustainable investment environment,” she said.
In a veiled reference to rising criticism from the government against the Central Bank, Boyner said Turkey was “discussing cooperation between the governments and the markets.”
“The government and regulators are responsible for taking measures to facilitate investment and increase competitive power,” she said. “Such a climate requires an objective and quick-moving judicial system.”
Touching on the unemployment problem, Boyner underlined the need to “match” the qualities of potential employees with the requirements of particular jobs. “A flexible labor market with job security” would contribute to job creation, she said.
Türkonfed opened its East Black Sea branch during the two-day meeting in Bodrum.
The organization represents 11 federations, 105 business associations and over 10,000 businesspeople, being one of the largest non-governmental organizations in Turkey.
Speaking at the event, Türkonfed head Celal Beysel said government partiality toward some organizations versus others would negatively affect democracy.
After the referendum campaign, the government openly thanked the Independent Industrialist’s and Businessmen’s Association, or MÜSİAD, for publicly advocating a “yes” vote in the referendum, as opposed to TÜSİAD’s insistence that it not be forced into making any public declaration of its voting preference.
“We lived through a referendum period of rough manners. This was no good. But now we are ready to prepare a new constitution,” Beysel said.