Saturday, February 28, 2009


Gökmen in Expat Roundtable with Turkey’s New Minister to the EU
On Friday, February 27th, Jennifer Gökmen joined thirty expats and five Turks at a dinner with Turkey’s newly appointed Minister to European Union Affairs, Mr. Egemen Bagis, and his wife Beyza (shown in photo). Hosted by businesswoman Mutlu Alkan at the Rahmi Koc Museum’s restaurant Halat, this new community forum rotates groups of professionals from various sectors. The third such event, this was the first to be composed of expatriates.

Among the expatriate opinion leaders participating in the evening’s discussion were foreign correspondents and authors on modern Turkish politics Gareth Jenkins, author of
Political Islam in Turkey, and former reporter for The Economist; Nicole Pope, co-author of Turkey Unveiled and former reporter for Le Monde; Dorian Jones of Deutsche Welle Radio, BBC, NPR, and Radio Netherlands; Sarah Rainsford of BBC; and Ariane Bonzon of Arte TV France and TSR/Swiss State TV. Business leaders included top management of foreign multinationals UPS, Cisco Systems, TEB Paribas Bank, as well as the director of the Italian Chamber of Commerce, the director of organic agriculture group Mavi Deniz, a professor of fine arts from Isik University, textile exporters, industrial machinery procuders, and independent consultants.

The open, frank dialogue ranged from amiable to intense: the history of Turkey’s struggle for EU accession, the probability, and the arguable necessity of it. The minister answered comments about the ruling Ak Party’s successes and lapses during the past five years. The evening ended in a consensus about the impressive infrastructure progress Turkey has made in recent years, overhauling labor laws, the tax code, foreign direct investment laws, and soon the commercial code as well as Turkey’s strides towards fully implementing the EU’s
Copenhagen Criteria to preserve
democratic governance and human rights. The minister’s active solicitation of ongoing outside opinion may be an indicator of increased advancement in this direction.

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