30 November 2004
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cited agriculture as a critical issue in Turk-European (EU) relations and that both sides have tried to harmonize common agricultural policy with the EU.
More than 350 participants, including scientists, representatives of civil society organizations, and bureaucrats attended yesterday the Second Agricultural Council, which was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
During his speech before the Congress, Erdogan said he expected a positive decision from the EU on December 17th and that Turkey and the EU would struggle to settle a system of mutual interest. The Prime Minister also briefed the congress about affirming developments in the economy and later lamented the poor state of the agricultural sector, stating it was the victim of erroneous policies when AKP came to power in 2002. The economy, Erdogan added, grew by providing political stability and a confident environment.
Erdogan recalled that in 2002, farmers put their tractors on sale while some were even confiscated. "The heroism period in agriculture from now on is finished. The period of the use of agriculture as means and tools in daily politics has ended."
He admitted the problems that economic problems that persist: efficiency, quality, production, market, competition, and partial and small administrative scales. Erdogan went on, "We will have problems with the negotiation process; however, the important thing is solving those problems in reciprocity." Meanwhile, Deniz Baykal, leader of the opposition, the People's Republican Party (CHP) claimed that external demands and conditions restricted support for agriculture.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Sami Guclu, predicted that the agricultural sector would grow by 3.1 percent in comparison to last year and that foreign investments in agriculture would grow by 3.4 percent, in comparison to last year's 2.7 percent.