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2008-12-17
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LBG International Dinner Conference in Istanbul

Gent büyükşehir belediye encümeni eski senator Fatma Pehlivan'ın 18 aralık 2008 tarihinde İstanbul'da düzenlenecek olan 'Business Networking Event & Dinner' konferansına katılacağı bildirildi..
 
Konferansta 'Türkiye'nin Avrupa Birligi'ne neden üye olmasi gerekir ve Avrupa'daki Türk kökenli iş adamları nasıl katkıda bulunabilirler? Sorularına yanıt aranmaya çalışılacak.
 
Ekte konferansın programı ve Fatma Pehlivan'nın yapacağı konuşmanın metnini okurlarımızın bilgisine sunuyoruz.. 
  
Bu konuda daha geniş bilgi için:
 
0476/279776 (Fatma Pehlivan) 
 
09/ 266.51.26 (Hümeyra Çifteoğlu/Danışman)
 
Telefonla ulaşılabilirsiniz.. 



LBG Dinner Conference
18th December 2008, Istanbul (Turkey) 
  
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
I'd like to quote the opening sentences of the great American novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
 
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advise that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. 'Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,' he told me, 'just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.'
 
Unquote. My father never gave me that advise, because he couldn't give me those advantages. At the contrary, he had to give me some major disadvantages. As the daughter of an immigrant worker, I really had to fight for my rights.
 
Luckily, I inherited my father's name, Pehlivan, which means 'wrestler'.
 
Not being rich, I shared with most. Not being a man, I shared with one out of two. Not being Western, I shared with few. It was more difficult to overcome the second than the first, but the third surely was the most difficult one to overcome. I think it has something to do with the numbers. If you're not part of the majority, you're not part of 'us'. If you're not part of 'us', you are 'the other'.
 
For a lot of Europeans, the Turks are 'the others'.
 
Preparing for this speech, I contacted dr Bahadir Kaleagasi of Tüsiad in Brussels. One of the documents he provided me with, was entitled 'Main contributions of Turkey's membership to the EU'. Multiculturalism was pointed out as one of the ten main contributions. I quote.
 
Multiculturalism. Turkey's membership will strengthen the EU's multicultural society and democracy. It will be a solid confirmation of refuting the 'clash of civilisations' scenario and emphasising the essences of the EU, namely a union built upon and through common values.
 
Unquote. Turkey's membership of the EU will certainly have a positive effect on Europe's multicultural societies, but dr Kaleagasi has to forgive me for being a bit sceptical. The fact that the Turks will suddenly be Europeans too, will certainly have a positive effect on the way the Europeans look at the Turks in their societies, but it won't change their perceptions completely. The Turks won't turn white overnight, and their beliefs won't disappear from one day to the other. For a lot of Europeans, the Turks will remain 'the others'.
 
Although the EU is mainly built upon and through economic motives, in a lot of EU countries those economic motives are hardly ever heard in the debate on Turkey's membership of the EU. Identity seems to be the main issue. If Turkey becomes a memberstate, the EU won't be able to identify itself as a purely white and christian union anymore. For a lot of Europeans, that would be a bridge too far. In their opinion, Turkey simply has nothing to do with the EU.
 
I agree with dr Kaleagasi that the so-called 'clash of civilisations' scenario should be rejected, but I'm afraid it won't be possible to define EU's 'common values' without referring to Western tradition at all.
 
In my opinion, Turkey's membership of the EU will only work when both parties learn to appreciate one another. The EU has to embrace multiculturalism and Turkey has to embrace the most important Western values.
 
As a Turkish woman living in Belgium or a Belgian woman with Turkish roots, I participate in both learning processes.
 
In Belgium, I put a lot of emphasis on multiculturalism. As the Ghent deputy mayor responsible for the City Personnel, I fight against discrimination and I try to guarantee equal opportunities for all and for immigrants in particular.
 
In Turkey, I put a lot of emphasis on such Western values as gender equality. I always like to explain, for example, how political participation of women could be improved drastically by means of nationwide campaigns and legal quota.
 
Of course, learning to appreciate one another isn't the only necessary condition for Turkey succesfully joining the EU. In his article 'EU and Turkey. In Search of Lost Time', dr Kaleagasi points out correctly that the EU has to be 'governed efficiently' in order to be ready for yet another enlargement and Turkey has to be 'reformed expeditiously' in order to be ready for EU membership.
 
Today, however, neither necessary conditions are fulfilled yet.
 
Luckily, the business men and women aren't waiting for the politicians to do what they ought to do. EU companies are already exploring the Turkish market in many different ways, and Turkish companies are already living up to the EU standards. One thing is for sure, the business men and women won't be the ones to blame if Turkey doesn't join the EU in 2015, the politicians are.
 
As a politician myself, I do everything within my power to bring business men and women of both sides together. Recently, I proposed the City of Izmir to be the next central guest on the biggest Belgian business fair in Ghent, and I helped a Turkish compagny to find a Belgian partner for a common European project.
 
I'm sure contacts and collaborations like these will learn both parties to appreciate one another more and more each day. And the more they appreciate one another, the sooner they will be ready to be part of the same union.
 
At least, that's what I hope for. 
 
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
Turkey's membership of the EU is a matter of time, time we have to use to learn to appreciate one another. The more than three million Turks living in Europe, have an important role to play in this learning process. With their home country still in the waiting room, they are already part of the EU for many, many years.
I really hope the other Turks might follow very soon.
 
I thank you all for your kind attention. 
 
Fatma Pehlivan
 
Deputy mayor of Personnel, ICT and Administrative Simplification of the City of Ghent, Belgium
 

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