Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

Hisarcıklıoğlu attended 'Ankara Fly Direct' meeting

23.11.2017 / Frankfurt

TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu attended the meeting held in Frankfurt by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce in regards to Turkish Airlines’ direct flights between Ankara-Frankfurt.​

Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that it is a day to be proud of being a member of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce and said, “I’ve had a problem that I’ve been complaining about for years. We could not find an international flight directly from Ankara. This meant a waste of 4-5 hours. Let's just say that we had to bear it as foreign investors, tourists do not like this. Thanks to Chairman Gürsel, a major problem that we have been struggling with for years has been solved. Together with his administration he brought this issue up with the President of the Republic of Turkey, stressing the importance of the issue. He received support from our Prime Minister and provided this very important service for Ankara.”


Noting that flights to Frankfurt, Berlin and Vienna have begun, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that soon other cities, such as Düsseldorf and Amsterdam, will also be added.


Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “I hope that Ankara will not only be the gateway as a city, but one of Central Anatolia to the world. In addition to new trade and investment opportunities, tourism will also come alive. I am particularly focused on this topic, because we all should appreciate the Chairman and the management.”


Emphasizing THE democratic nature of the elections held at the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Naturally, there were arguments and conflict. Now it is time to leave them behind and work together for Ankara, for the business community we represent. Because when we are not united, we and all our community suffer. Was this the first time we experienced such troubles? Grace and prosperity in unity; anguish in dissent. Now we must leave these arguments behind us.


When we focus on business instead of wasting time and effort polarized, we accomplish so much good. Next up is the expo, another historic step for Ankara. Here, too, the chamber has stepped up. As one of the greatest shareholders, they did not hesitate to put money down for the common good. Hopefully Ankara will become a much more developed and prosperous city with all these services. We, too, will be proud of being the largest contributor to ATO.”


Hisarcıklıoğlu thanked the former TGNA Speaker and Ankara PM Cemil Cicek, and Günter Verhaugen, former EU Commissioner for Expansion, for their participation at the meeting.


- “Chosen as best practice by the United Nations”


Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that after his return to Turkey he would be attending two opening ceremony. “We have completed the construction of the new passenger hall for the Kapıkule Customs Gate. We are also laying the foundation for the new customs gate of Hamzabeyli. These are our endeavors, together. Customs and Tourism Enterprises Co. Inc., in which all of our chambers are partners, has renovated all land customs gates. This endeavor has been an example for the world. The United Nations has chosen its work as best practice. According to the calculations of the Ministry, our exporting companies save 400 million TRY annually. So when they ask what the Chambers say actually do, you can tell them they did this as just one of our accomplishments – earning the private sector a lot of money.


Hisarcıklıoğlu touched on the issue of interest rates, which has been a hot topic lately: “As TOBB and the Chamber-Exchange community, we have provided SMEs with zero- or very low interest rates. Under the auspices of our President and the support of our government, the projects we actualized in 2017 have been a breath of life for SMEs. The engines of the economy were made to turn. First, Chambers-Exchanges in 81 provinces and TOBB pooled their resources. We reached an agreement with banks and provided 10 TRY of new credit to SMEs for every 1 TRY we collected. The loan interest rate is 9.9% per annum - the lowest interest rate ever applied to commercial loans. Adjusted for inflation, it was essentially a zero-interest loan. So far, the real interest rate is even less.


We took the second step with the Ministry of Industry. Through KOSGEB, a 3 year maturity interest free loan of 50,000 TRY was made possible. For step three, the Credit Guarantee Fund, of which TOBB is a founding partner, was supported by the government. The limit of credit bail was raised to 250bn TRY. Together with these three projects, a total of 653,000 companies (-the majority of which were SMEs) were able to use a total of 232bn TRY in bank loans throughout Turkey. Our active member count in Turkey is approximately 1.2-1.3 million. Thus, 1 out of every 2 members, attained access to additional financial tools through TOBB and the Chamber-Exchange community.


- Employment mobilization started in 81 provinces with chambers / exchanges


Hisarcıklıoğlu pointed out that TOBB and the Chamber-Exchange community have accomplished historic achievements for employment. Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “The proposal we made at the TOBB Economy in February has been met with approval by the President of the Republic. Support for employment has been provided until today. In 81 provinces, our Chamber-Exchange community mobilized. As of last year, we have created 1.5 million additional jobs. All this is possible with the unity of purpose, hands and hearts of our community.”


Pointing out that there are other troubles, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they have the will and possibility to overcome all, “We can provide many such improvements by acting in unity and solidarity. Problems are not solved by infighting. They are solved through dialogue. Allah will provide grace and prosperity when we are united. As long as we do not mislead each other.”


- “We have a chance to reach a 23 trillion-dollar market very comfortably”


ATO Chairman Gürsel Baran pointed out that they have been working abroad for about a year to increase their international direct flights.


Emphasizing that one of the reasons for being in Frankfurt is to “support direct flights,” Baran expressed his happiness in attending the first direct flights to Germany with the council members. “Direct flights are a very important factor in the development of Ankara for conferences, fairs and health tourism,” Baran emphasized that the increase of direct flights from Ankara should not be evaluated only in terms of transportation convenience.


- “We are in the black winter of relations between Turkey and the European Union”


Former TGNA Speaker Cicek also assessed Turkey's membership process to the European Union.


Çiçek pointed out that in the period of Günther Verheugen, former Vice-President of the European Commission, who is currently the TOBB's EU and German adviser, there were important developments in EU relations and pointed out, “We are now living in the black winter of relations with the European Union. A new Verheugen is needed.”


Çiçek said, “We do not enter the European Union as a 'burden', Turkey needs the European Union just as much as the European Union needs Turkey, which is a reciprocal exchange, a goal which can be achieved through mutual solidarity.”

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