1.Dear Mr. Chairman, first of all, could you introduce yourself to our readers? Could we get to know you?


I was born in Siirt and we moved to Ankara when I was 2 years old. I completed my education in Ankara and started my business life in Ankara, as well. In 1981, we established the family company operating on construction materials, especially paint and varnish. I currently act as the Chairman of the Board of this company.


I met the Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) in 1999, when I was elected as a member of assembly. Afterwards, I assumed various duties under the roof of ATO in different periods of time. I worked as the Chairman of the Specialization Commissions for Budget and Accounts Review along with Human Resources and Institutional Development, and as a member of the Price Forecasting Commission, Specialization Commission for Local Administrations and Specialization Commission for Real Estate.


In the elections held in 2016, I was elected as the Chairman of the Board of Ankara Chamber of Commerce and as is known, I still carry out my duty. In addition to being ATO Chairman, I have also the duties of TOBB Chambers of Commerce Council Presidency, Deputy Chairman of Customs and Tourism Enterprises (GTİ), and Chairman of DEİK Supervisory Board. Since 2017, I have been a member of the board of Ankara Development Agency as well as Ankara Fair Incorporated Company . At the same time, I am a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Turkish Religious Foundation. I am married and have three children along with three grandchildren.


2.Could we learn about the establishment story of Ankara Chamber of Commerce from you?


Ankara Chamber of Commerce was officially established in the same year as the Republic of Turkey, although it was a few months before the declaration of the Republic. It was established in May 1923 under the name of "Ankara Chamber of Commerce and Industry" and started its activities in an old building on Anafartalar Avenue. It gained its legal identity with the enactment of the Law No. 655 on the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in 1925. Its main purpose was to create the national economy of the new country, which was still being established. Entrepreneurs, investors and traders were needed to create a national economy. The capital of modern Turkey was then a newly established city. The activities of Ankara Chamber of Commerce began in this environment. Ankara Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which had increased its effectiveness and activities since the 1950s, also pioneered the establishment of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) on the basis of Law No. 5590. With the establishment of Ankara Chamber of Industry in 1964, our chamber was restructured as "Ankara Chamber of Commerce".

Ankara Chamber of Commerce, which is the second largest chamber in Turkey today, directs the commerce and economy of the Capital with its 67 Professional Committees representing the sectors and more than 160.000 members. As the Board of Ankara Chamber of Commerce, we closely follow the sectors of our Assembly and Committee members and determine the direction of our work in line with their opinions and suggestions. We carry out our activities with a member-oriented service approach, and we are trying to implement studies for the development of our city and country.

Our priority is to lead our members to develop their businesses, open up their business to the world, increase their competitiveness in the global market with value-added production and exports by expanding the economic volume of Ankara, and contribute to finding solutions to the problems they encounter.

3.As the Chairman of Ankara Chamber of Commerce, what would you like to say about the last visit to Azerbaijan?


From your question, I understand you mean our visit to Azerbaijan as Ankara Chamber of Commerce. Let me share. We are carrying out studies about increasing the direct flights from Ankara to abroad. When it comes to direct transportation, it would of course be unthinkable not to have Azerbaijan in our working list with which we have a common language, religion, culture and history. We worked to set a direct flight from Ankara to Baku. Mr. İlker Aycı, Chairman of the Executive Board of Turkish Airlines, was very keen on the subject and a direct flight line was established between Ankara and Baku as a result of the efforts. As Ankara Chamber of Commerce, we participated in the first flight.


Azerbaijan is a very important country for us. Turkey is the most significant partner of Azerbaijan not only in political and military aspects but also in commercial, economic and cultural fields among others. We aim to increase the current foreign trade volume of 200 million dollars between Ankara and Azerbaijan to the billion dollars' level, and to increase the foreign trade volume of the two countries, which is approaching 2 billion dollars, to over 5 billion dollars. Ankara is a city that is set to make a name for itself in the international arena in the fields of health, convention and exhibition tourism. Especially through these features, we would like to attract the attention of Azerbaijan.


Both countries have mutual investments with each other. Our country is one of the biggest investors in Azerbaijan. Turkish investors have a total investment volume of approximately 12 billion dollars in Azerbaijan. Also, Azerbaijan's investment stock in Turkey reached approximately 15 billion dollars presently. Several Turkish companies operate in Azerbaijan and likewise, many Azerbaijani companies operate in Turkey. Turkish companies widely participate in the projects tendered by the Azerbaijani State. It is pointed out that the value of these projects have reached 15 billion dollars. The number of Azerbaijanis studying in Turkey since the country's independence has amounted to over 125 thousand. Currently, more than 15 thousand students are studying at Turkish universities.


Joint projects such as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum Natural Gas Pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway and TANAP leave their mark on the entire region. The opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway is very noteworthy. This line is one of the important links of the Silk Railway initiative stretching from London to China. It connects the continents of Asia and Europe. Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway line is quite prominent not only for passenger transport but also for freight transport. Turkey was the first state to recognize Azerbaijan's independence in 1991, and has been generous with any kind of support since then. He showed this support most recently in the struggle with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey's support played an important role in the victory of Azerbaijan in the war in which UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and AUAVs (Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) produced in our country were used. Azerbaijan cannot be considered separately from Turkey. Naturally, it has a special importance for us as Ankara Chamber of Commerce, as well.

4.Dear Chairman, you expressed that we will do our best for the development of the TRNC. How do you plan to work for this?


At the beginning of this year, the Platform of Economic Organizations from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus paid a visit to our Chamber. During our meeting, I expressed to them that we will continue to do our best for the existence and economic development of the TRNC, as we have done up till today. At the beginning of July, I again used similar expressions during the visit of the President of the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Industry to our Chamber.


The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is very precious and important to us. We desire a prosperous Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, whose economy is developing and growing more and more, whose people are getting richer and which is integrated into the international system.


For this reason, we strive to maintain and develop mutual investment and commercial relations at the best and top level between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. We, both the Homeland Turkey and the Baby Homeland Cyprus as we call it, have to develop our economies. As the business people of Turkey which is the gateway of the TRNC to the world, we have been working to increase our export capacities and markets both in our country and for you.


We are always ready to work in cooperation with our Cypriot sisters and brothers. We wish that the bond of fellowship between us will turn into a strong cooperation in the economy, as well. As a country, we stand by the state and nation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus with our state, government and non-governmental organizations. We are in constant communication with TRNC business organizations. We provide and will continue to provide all kinds of support to our members, including mutual matching.


As just in Azerbaijan, we are ready to provide all kinds of support for the development of the TRNC.


5. You state that there is unemployment in Turkey, but no one applies for job postings. What would you say about this? What is your advice to young people?


Yes, I have recently made a statement on this subject and it made a great impact, there were different comments, but the correct diagnosis and treatment are essential for solving the problem. For this reason, I think we should say what we know to be true, only in this way we can provide solutions to our problems.


As you know, according to the data announced by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TSI) in the past months, the unemployment rate was 10.6 percent. If there is such an unemployment rate in Turkey, you naturally expect a high demand when you advertise for a job, but you see no job application. Unemployment, which is around 10 percent, approaches "zero" when the real sector is looking for employees. No one applies or no one likes the job even though they apply. Everyone wants Turkey to develop, but they do not want to be qualified employees to work in industry and trade that will ensure this development.


In Turkey, employers have difficulties in finding qualified workers to be employed in many sectors from construction to health, from textiles to furniture. Turkey's problem is professional inadequacy rather than unemployment. Look, almost 7.5 million university students are studying in our country. While some of our young people who graduated from these universities cannot find the job they are looking for in their field of education, on the other hand, our member employers cannot find qualified employees in the sector of their operation. There is a mutual search, but there is no result.


In order to solve this problem, departments in our universities should be planned according to the needs and our young people should be led to the vocational education and training. My advice to the young people is that if they graduated from university and cannot find a job, they should immediately head to the Vocational Training Centers and receive vocational training. Vocational Training Centers provide training in the fields needed in a wide concept and enable our young people to have professions.


6.Turkey has managed to overcome the crises up till today. As the successful Chairman of Ankara Chamber of Commerce, how do you evaluate overcoming these crises?


The Republic of Turkey is a young state approaching its 100th anniversary. However, it has an extensive state experience with the legacy it inherited from the Ottoman Empire. It is a country that has managed to overcome both the Great Depression of 1929 covering the whole world and all the other crises experienced in the country since its establishment. Moreover, despite the fact that it is constantly sharing the pains of an agonized geography due to its location between east and west. There are some examples that I give in my speeches from time to time. For instance, if we were to place the world economic giant countries in the geography where Turkey is located, they would not have been able to survive as long as Turkey does.


Or think about the time when a treacherous organization attempted a coup on July 15, 2016. The next day, everyone took action again for this country, went to work, continued to work and produce. In my opinion, there are several reasons for this. Turkish people, who in all their poverty managed to stand up to the greatest powers of the world, do not get frustrated in the face of crises. Knowing that this situation will pass, Turks both struggle and endure. In addition, thanks to their adaptable nature, they can head for the required area and take the necessary steps. We are a smart, agile and dynamic nation. Crises cannot deter us.


7.Do you have any studies on vocational training, which the industry needs? What do you do?


As Ankara Chamber of Commerce, we are carrying out studies in line with the needs of 67 professional committees in which our members are represented. Although we do not seem to be working directly for the industry since we are the Chamber of Commerce, industrialists are among the beneficiaries of the studies that we have been conducting.


Based on the idea of protecting commercial life against the pandemic through education, we have presented the platform called "Ankara Commercial Academy" to our members in cooperation with Middle East Technical University (METU). Our members can receive training free of charge in many areas from digital marketing to robotic programming, from customer relations to web design tools via the online platform that can be accessed remotely 24/7.


We have been conducting the Applied Foreign Trade Training Program for our university students and graduates Since 2010 in order to provide qualified employment for our members in the field of foreign trade. In the program, which we have trained about a thousand young people until this year, we educate our young people in all areas they will need to do international business such as market research, legislation, delivery and payment methods, documents used, finance, logistics and insurance. We aim to move our city, which is currently the sixth largest exporting one, higher in the list.


We contributed to our members' orientation towards the electronic commerce and exports by launching the "E-Commerce and E-Export Mobilization". We take the companies, provide training on all the subjects they need, set up their websites, create their infrastructure, and enable them to be capable of e-commerce and e-export. We have been carrying out this work for about a year. We can call this a kind of providing vocation study.


In order to ensure the improvement of our members and their employees, we have realized the cooperation protocols regarding the master's degree and remote education programs with Ankara University, Gazi University, Ankara Social Sciences University, Hacı Bayram Veli University, Lokman Hekim University, TOBB Economy and Technology University, Middle East Technical University and OSTİM Technical University in our city.


We realized the "Cooperation Protocol for Foreign Language Education" with Ankara University (AU) Turkish and Foreign Language Application and Research Center (TÖMER) in order to contribute to our members' access to foreign markets. Within the scope of the Protocol, 40 percent discount is provided to the Chamber members, employees and their dependents.


As Ankara Chamber of Commerce, we have prepared 12 National Occupational Standards and 7 National Competencies since 2012 by working with the Vocational Qualifications Authority. Most recently, we have carried out studies to set the standards for the herbalist's trade, and it has gained the status of profession. Now, we have initiated the studies on Floristry, Quality Management and Quality System Consultancy.

8. As ATO, what are your goals and projects for the upcoming periods?


2020 has been a year in which we tried to minimize the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the commercial lives of our members. During this process that we have experienced with the whole world, we have tried to stand by our members whose commercial life has been negatively affected by the epidemic. While trying to solve the financing problem of businesses through Nefes (Breath) and Can Suyu (Lifeline) Credits, we have also worked to expand the support packages in favor of our members.


The upcoming period will be a period in which we, as Ankara Chamber of Commerce, will build our studies on the commercial life reshaped by the pandemic. As the Chamber, we will continue to provide our trainings, the content of which will be tailored according to the needs. We will also keep our studies related with the e-commerce and e-export.


As Ankara Chamber of Commerce, there are two issues about which we sensitively care. One of them is branding. We try to convey the importance of branding to both our businesses and our university students to teach them the ways of branding by organizing "Ankara International Brand Meet-Ups".


Another issue is introducing the Geographical Indications into the economy. As Ankara Chamber of Commerce, we organized the "Geographical Indications Summit" twice in order to increase the awareness on geographical indication products and to ensure their access to national and international markets. The first summit was in 2017, and the second one was held on 19-20-21 September 2019 under the name of "2. International Geographical Indications Summit".


On the other hand, we have been working to establish specialization zones where all businesses in the food, textile and construction sectors will operate together. Among these, we have made significant progress in the "Food City" project. We brought industry representatives together and laid the groundwork for their agreements. Our studies on the subject continue.


As Ankara Chamber of Commerce, we have also established the "Mediation and Dispute Resolution Center" in order to facilitate the resolution of legal disputes of our members, as well as to organize informative meetings and trainings. Our Center, which will serve in the same building as the SETTLEMENT Center established by the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, will provide services with our members regarding commercial, consumer, insurance, energy, health, sports, construction, banking and financial law, intellectual and industrial rights, and employee-employer disputes.


We initiated the "Project for Increasing the Competitiveness of the Service Sector", known shortly as HİSER, in order to contribute to the development of Ankara in health tourism. Within this context, we will ensure that Ankara develops in health tourism through the studies we will carry out for 3 years with a cluster consisting of health centers and travel agencies.


These are the things that I am able to list in the first place by filtering through many of our studies regarding the development of commerce in our city and in our country. Our works will continue for the improvement of our members and their employees along with the development of our city's domestic and foreign trade.