Babacan: "The constitutional reform package will help our economy continue to grow"
Speaking at a fast-breaking dinner hosted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Ankara, Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan yesterday said Turkey's economy can't move to the next level under its current Constitution and judicial system. Stressing the need for more democratic procedures to select the country's top judges, as included in the constitutional reform package set to face a referendum next month, Babacan said the reforms will make Turkey's judicial bodies more representative, giving all prosecutors and judges a say in selecting those bodies' members. Babacan stressed the importance of an improved democracy and well-functioning judiciary for the continued health of Turkey's economy, adding, "Turkey has broken past per the capita income level of $10,000, but in all frankness, we can't boost this level to $20,000 under Turkey's current Constitution and the judicial system. No country in the world has managed to achieve $20,000 per capita income with an inadequate democracy and judicial system. It can't be done." On the economic gains Turkey has seen since 2002, when the AK Party came to power, he said, "The Turkey of eight years ago and the Turkey of today are almost like two different countries." Stressing that interest rates are now the lowest in the republic's history, Babacan said Turkey's economy had weathered the global crisis with minimal damage compared to countries around the world and in Europe. Saying that international investors now see Italy as a riskier investment than Turkey, Babacan said that this success would not have been possible if they had only focused on economic policies but ignored democratic reforms. "The steps Turkey has taken in recent years to improve its democracy, to expand basic human rights and freedoms, and to strengthen the rule of law enabled it to move to a higher league," he said. "Turkey is playing in a very different league than it did eight years ago." Babacan said that the reform package, which faces a vote some three weeks from now, can lay the groundwork to propel Turkey to a higher league still.