Kemal Dervis: ‘A European citizen has to feel at home and safe’ – Confidence is the challenge for Greece to attract investors who are waiting to come

Turkish politician Kemal Dervis has a reputation as a good manager who led Turkey out of a financial crisis at the end of 1990s. Talking to the ANA-MPA’s Annita Triantafyllopoulou on Thursday, Dervis seemed confident that Greece’s economy can “very well” succeed in doing the same thing in one or two years.

“Many investors are waiting to come, but [they] want to have confidence,” he noted.

His vision for Europe’s federation is to keep the United Kingdom within the fold and to combine two “Europes” in one: The Eurozone and a European Union surrounding the core.

Regarding the Greek financial crisis, he expressed optimism, not only in financial, but also in political terms, referring to a “charismatic leadership”.

“Your prime minister (Alexis Tsipras), is very popular in all of Europe,” the famous economist explained in his interview, given below:


Q: Mr Dervis, you have the reputation of a good manager who led Turkey out of the financial crisis in the 1990s. Regarding the Greek financial crisis, do you think the country has now escaped the danger, or there is more to be done?

There is always more to be done. But I think Greece has a very good chance now for beginning to grow. Many mistakes made by both sides, but we have to look forward. [There is] No point in looking back.


Q: A big adjustment has been made with a lot of suffering by the Greek people and a lot of pain. But now this adjustment in the macroscopic perspective is almost complete.

What matters now are two things: Good economic management and giving people confidence.

In economics, half is confidence and the other half is policies. And for confidence one has to give a clear strategy and one has to have a good management, which is not politicized.

Leadership of course, has to be political. Day to day management of the economy in the ministries, in the bureaucracy, has to be very professional and focused on success, even tomorrow.

If Greece succeeds in doing that – and it has a very charismatic leadership now – if [its leadership] can unite that in good management, I’ m almost sure that in two or three years, it will not do it just “ok,” but could actually do very well. Many investors are waiting to come, but want to have the “confidence”.


Q: Do you think the current risky developments (war in Syria and Europe’s refugees and migrant crisis), could turn out to be a chance for the European Union and Turkey to build a genuine partnership, rather than a transactional arrangement?

Europe is very important for Turkey and Turkey is very important for Europe. Whatever the governments, whatever the events, I think Turkey needs Europe – particularly Turkish democracy, Turkish young people need Europe. But Europe also needs Turkey, in order to manage the whole region, the problems, the security, the refugees.

So it has to be a permanent relationship. It can not be transactional – although some issues can be handled in that way – and I hope that both sides recognize how important they are for each other. But there are many problems. I’ m not saying there are not problems. Both on the Turkish side and the European side, but in the long term, the “family” has to stay together.


Q: If the current situation will worsen, will maybe “impose” a solution?

Unfortunately, humanity sometimes only reacts when things are very tough. Then, everybody really makes a difference. Europe now faces many big challenges. The Eurozone crisis has been now subdued but it’s not solved. It needs more. European, Eurozone reforms. The refugees’ crisis is huge. There is no simple solution. It has to be tackled, it won’t go away. And it has to be tackled I think, in a way [that is] within European values.

At the same time the threat to Europe from terrorism is very real and I think security is a big priority. All these things are perhaps a chance for Europe to say “ok, now we really have to cooperate and work together.”


Q: Mr Dervis, it is widely known that you have a vision, a clear vision for the Europe’s federation. Would you please briefly outline your proposal for the ANA-MPA?

A: It is not easy to outline it in a few moments, but I think Europe needs to combine social solidarity, European humanist values with a very competitive, growth-oriented economy.

It is not true that these two things are contradictory. That you either have growth or social solidarity. You can have both. But for that you have to rethink a new system of social solidarity and I think this is the big challenge. I don’t have time to give the details, but I gave a speech on that yesterday in Athens.

The second thing is the Eurozone means monetary sovereignty sharing and it has to be much more of an economic federation in the long run, in order to work. So, there has to be more integration. I think there has to be a eurozone budget, eurozone finance minister, and common eurozone fiscal policy, harmonized. But not all European countries want that. Particularly not United Kingdom, but also, others too.

So, my vision is: we have to make space for them and have two Europes in one big Europe.  The Eurozone more integrated, and the larger Europe with the United Kingdom, with looser integration and more diversity. I think this is the time to realize it. Before the British referendum.

And finally, the third element which we are seeing now, I think, is the European and defence policies, including the merging of defence resources and intelligence resources, which has to be strengthened.

It is inefficient and not effective to have each country trying to handle the security situation on its own. Much greater integration is needed on a European level.


Q: What are the key drivers for the success of a European federation?

- In the Eurozone particularly, you need a European political space. In the end, it has to be political leadership. It is not a technical question. You have to solve technical questions.  But the message to the people has to be given by the political leaders. Hopefully, this will emerge.

I think new ideas are coming. I think from the left.  Your prime minister is very popular in all of Europe. From the conservative angle. we also need people who engage Europe as a whole. National politics alone cannot build a new Europe. We need a new generation of politicians, political leaders who engage Europe as a whole from a national base, but as real Europeans.


Q: How can they explain simply to the people the European orientation?

The messages have to be simple. They have to be very much focused on growth, jobs, and the need for a large European space. You are competing against China, against the United States, against India tomorrow… Europe fragmented can not do this. You need the scale. And I think people will understand that.

And security has to be provided to people. Both physical security and social security. And again: This can only be done in a more united Europe. I think that message too is a simple message and I think people can believe in it.

But Europe has to give people something also. It can not always ask for things, but also give: common education, a contribution to the whole school and health system. A European citizen has to feel “at home and safe” in this Europe. This is the battle for the next ten years. It won’t happen overnight.


Q: Is there time left to catch up before a major crisis emerges?

Well, we are in the middle of a crisis. So time is running out. One has to move! Europe must really face the even bigger problems of this crisis situation. In many aspects of this crisis. Not just refugees but security situations, the need to keep the UK in Europe, because the UK is a big country, a strong country. All these things are coming together.

So, now is the time. If European leaders and people, and the younger generation, do not move fast now, then they will miss this opportunity.

I hope that the next two-three years will be years of real decisive progress for Greece, for Turkey, for Europe and above all, for the people of Europe. Not in an abstract sense, but in the lives of the people.



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