Erdogan: "We're working to make Turkey a hope for stability in its region"
With its democratic structure, strong economy, and contributions to regional and global peace, Turkey is working to be a hope for stability in the region, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday. Speaking at the opening of the 2009 World Jewelry Congress in Istanbul, Erdogan said he was pleased to see the participants of the congress in Istanbul, a city that has been a home to world civilizations. "As you see in the congress' slogan, Istanbul is a city that connects the East with the West," he said. "Istanbul is a city that connects two continents, two cultures and two cultural geographies." He added, "You, the distinguished representatives of the world jewelry sector, will have a chance to see Istanbul and discover the gems of this city. You will witness how historical artifacts in Istanbul were made as if they came out of the hands of an expert jeweler. I am pleased to see that you will be experiencing Istanbul, a city I served as mayor from 1994 to 1998." Touting the economic record of his government over the last seven years, Erdogan reiterated that they are continuing to take all necessary measures to cushion the blow of the global economic crisis. Thanks to these measures, Turkey is feeling the crisis less than other developing countries, he said, adding that the government will continue to strictly follow the country's economic program. Expressing his resolve to protect Turkey's economic, domestic and foreign policy momentum, Erdogan also said that after the crisis has passed Turkey will continue its developmental progress with its stable, high economic growth rate and as a foreign trade and investment magnet. Erdogan also said that Turkey would determinedly continue EU reforms despite the obstacles in its path, and that it will continue to promote regional peace and stability, which is critical for economic development. On Saturday, addressing the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB), Erdogan defended his government from criticisms that it underestimated the crisis and was slow to take action. He said he was striving to keep in close touch with both employers and workers unions to address the problems firsthand. "Current figures show we were right to suggest that Turkey will sustain only limited damage," he said.