The Turkish metropolis Istanbul is in a unique position to contribute to global co-operation and dialogue as it physically bridges two continents and serves as a connection between Europe, Asia and Africa, the top official of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the organisation’s Istanbul Center on Wednesday, Secretary General Mathias Cormann said Türkiye has shown great generosity in the wake of humanitarian crises in the region.
The centre was opened in January 2021 and it was officially launched on Wednesday with a high-level participance in Istanbul.
Türkiye has also been an “incredibly effective facilitator” in the recently renewed Black Sea grain deal, said Cormann, adding that the initiative has enabled the export of over 25 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs from Ukraine, thus helping ensure millions of people worldwide have access to food and basic supplies.
A founding member of the OECD, Türkiye “has been a strong advocate for our instruments and policy best practices especially towards South Eastern Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East and North Africa region,” he underlined.
A hub for global engagement
The Istanbul Center will provide political support in many fields, including tax administration, insolvency and bankruptcy laws, integration of global supply chains, transport connectivity, and infrastructure development.
“The center will in particular connect original programmes in Southeast Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, encouraging policy co-operation and dialogue among these regions,” highlighted Cormann.
In less than a year since the centre has started operating, it has already made important contributions to the OECD’s outreach efforts, he said, adding that the centre has hosted eight major events, attracting participants from around the globe.
He also said the centre will host a sustainable infrastructure programme in Asia to provide policymakers training and capacity building to transition towards sustainable energy, transport and industry.
Noting that Türkiye has a long history of contributing to the OECD and to its global mission, the former Australian finance minister said the centre would “be a hub for our global engagement, connecting several important regions enabling mutual learning and enhancing our capacity building efforts.”
Türkiye ready to support centre
Mehmet Mus, the Turkish trade minister, said Ankara attached great importance to the work of the OECD and noted that the country invested in the Istanbul Center’s establishment.
Mus said that the centre already started to emerge as an important regional hub that can further strengthen the ties between the OECD and a wider region, including with non-OECD nations in the Balkans, Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia.
“We strongly believe that the centre will contribute to the knowledge accumulation and enable increased co-operation between the academics, R&D and industry circles,” he said.
Touching on global and regional issues, such as impact of pandemic on the economy and connectivity, he said Türkiye was ready to support and contribute to the center’s efforts with all its institutions to help promote sustainable and inclusive development in the region.