January 26th, 2012
11:32 AM GMT
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Sakyra, Turkey (CNN) - Turkey has in the past focussed its trade on Europe, but with Europe's growing economic woes and a new political era in the Middle East, Turkey is slowly turning its political and economic attention east.

Orhan Ozer is president and CEO of Toyota Turkey. He told CNN’s Rima Maktabi: “Turkey has lots of advantages in respect of the geographical advantages, in respect to the location of the country at the middle of Europe, Middle East – even Central Asia.”

“Also the population is young, they are very dedicated, qualified, experienced and they are very ambitious for their work,” he added

Toyota Turkey exports almost exclusively to Europe – mainly to Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the UK. Likewise, in the first half of 2011, almost half of Turkey’s exports were to the EU. But with an ailing European market and a European Union that refused Turkey as a member, Ankara's government has looked to new markets – to the east.

“Starting from the republic until the 1990s, beginning of 2000, Turkey was just looking at the West,” said Sabiha Gündoğar, director of the foreign policy program at the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation.

“It is still important but it is not the only foreign-policy goal for Turkey,” he added. "Turkey started to discover, and I can say now it discovered, and is improving its relations with its neighbors, be it the East, be it the more South.”

In 2002, Asia's foreign direct investment in Turkey totalled $1 billion; in 2010 the number jumped to $18 billion. During a recent visit to Ankara the Malaysian PM Najib Razak agreed with his Turkish counterpart to set a new target for bilateral trade, raising it from its current $1.3 billion to $5 billion.

This Asian-Turkish economic connection is welcomed by big conglomerates like Dogus group, a Turkish firm that focuses on everything from financial services to media operations.

“We are receiving investment appetite from Far East, not recently from the neighboring countries, or the near East, but we are receiving some interest from the Far East, like Korea, Indonesia, India, even China,” says Dogus Group executive vice president Levent Veziroglu.

But Turkey is also reaching out to politically unstable countries in the Middle East. In October 2011, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan led a delegation of more than 200 businessmen on a tour of Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya - countries trying to find stability and help in rebuilding.

“We know the region, we know the culture, we have some historical ties with those countries, so it’s very natural if we see the Turkish economy will expand its limits towards those countries,” said Veziroglu.

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. faircommentor

    Up with East – down with West!!!

    Freedom of expression === GITMOOOO

    January 26, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  2. sameh

    very sad situation See the elephant is dying and die


    January 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  3. Henk

    "and a European Union that refused Turkey as a member" Turkey is in the official EU path to become a member. But it has a lot of EU rules to implement for freedom of speech, freedom of press, settling territorial disputes etc before it can become a member state of the EU. It isn`t even trying on many levels to implement this rules. Why should they be allowed to be a member and receive Billions of Euro`s in yearly stimulus if they don`t care about EU regulations. What a joke. We already have been too lenient with rules regarding finances. Look how Greece took advantage. We don`t need another country who can not stick to EU rules. Lets first focus on giving the EU more powers to implement rules and financial oversight before allowing in new countries.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  4. Durendal

    Good luck to them, every country should broaden it's mind and not focus on one region of the globe alone.Turks also originate in Asia so they have cultural and historic aspects in common with them.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  5. ALI

    who cares about entering EU?ask to citizens,nobody in TURKEY wants to be in this union struggling with financial problems.....

    January 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  6. citizenmn

    Erdogan thinks he can improve Turkey's economy by encouraging trade with tyrannical regimes like Iran and Syria. His policy is slowly failing. When Turks return sensible secular leaders to power, their situation will improve.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  7. Wild Turkey

    Turkey has to diversify Its export portfolio in order to strengthen Its economy. being largely depending on Europe especially now that demand from Europe is rapidly shrinking is not healthy for Turkey’s economy therefore It is smart to increase trade with existing countries in Asia, Middle East and North Africa and also expand in to new territories to South America and Far East, right now %50 of Turkey's export goes to Europe and that is not a healthy balance that ratio should be down to %30.
    As for the Turkey’s EU membership, Turkey should implement all that is required such as Mastric criteria’s and all and at the end should opt out to be like England, should not join the single currency but should have a say in the EU. It is in Turkey’s interest to be not a full member because EU has so many members that have small and weak economies that would require external funding for many years to come and Turks are better off spending their money for their own country’s infrastructure and education then some other countries in EU.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  8. JBug

    i have travelled the world and I have never meet nicer people as in Turkey

    January 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  9. raz

    oh now Turkey is looking to the middle east they were dying before to join the EU now that EU isnt looking so good they are looking for their " friends" iin the middleast !

    January 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  10. Brau

    nice beaches, good food, ok wine, sunny, I like it a lot on vacation, but European ???? You gotta be kidding !!!

    January 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  11. The truth hurts but I must tell it

    Turkey should look ONLY towards the Middle East, because they are Middle Easterners, and like all Midldle Easterners, hate Europeans and Christians. Look at Turkish immigrants in Europe, they are the most problematic group in all of the EU, most murderers, drug dealers, pimps, robbers and thieves are Turkish. Their entire culture is based on being aggressive and rude.

    Turkey doesn't have anything in common with Europe as all Turks living here show. And if Turkey really is becoming a great economic power, the first thing they should do IS TO STOP TURKS COMING TO EUROPE! and go back to "superpower" Turkey, because you are commiting murders, rapes and robberies here on daily basis here.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  12. Alberto

    the most obnoxious and rude people i've ever met in my life were turks. there is something wrong with them, they are very very aggresive people, if you look at them thewrong way they start shouting like animals and getting angry. i've never seen anything like this.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  13. Logicx

    The truth hurts but I must tell it-

    You are so ignorant and wrong sir. All Turks? ALL middle easterners???? Wow you are so racist and stereotypical.... probably uneducated... 1 or 2 people might be those things but it does not give you the right to judge ALL the people in that state or culture. You sir are ignorant and racist.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  14. Wild Turkey

    Its sad to see that racism is STILL alive and well in europe. It sounds like the Nazis in Germany or the xenohobics in France or Denmark that perhaps will be one of the reasons why EU wont surviva and then they'll start killing each other again!! then come over and call Uncle Sam to rescue.... wait, I think, we've seen this already before... Its called WWII

    January 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  15. eman

    The most powerful horror film in the history of world cinema


    January 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  16. John

    Good on them, the EuroZone will crash soon and most of the europeans would probably be flooding into Turkey for a better life....Turkey you better think of closing your borders soon.

    January 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  17. SAS

    About time too......Turkey is a natural bridge between East and West so it is just as well they should shift from being a European satellite state to be a global powerhouse.

    January 27, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  18. Jean Pierre Gunes

    This news is a shame to CNN. Seriously speaking, the editor who came up with this news should be sickly biased. Calling Turkey constantly Middle East and playing middle eastern music in the background which has nothing to do with Turkey is as clever as Carl's Jr. Miss Turkey advertisement. When I was in the country I didn't see nothing but very modern country, young population, emerging economy and more. As a french person who visits the country very often I apologize in behalf of the editor of this news. She should have brightened up and her name also sounds middle eastern which raises flags about the neutrality of the article. Middle Eastern people fear to lose Turkey and like it to stick next to their names as the country is only example of Europe which can balance between Europe and Asia.

    January 27, 2012 at 5:00 am |
  19. Jean Pierre Gunes

    And I also regret to say turkish people in Europe doesn't represent people in their homeland. Turkish people are total opposites of what we've seen so far in Europe. I would think the same if I've never been there but they could be as blond as we are or culturally they would fit as well as Romania or Bulgaria could in Europe. People freely drinking on the streets (you can't do this in US), clubs open until first lights of the morning and much more... I'd just say, don't take my word and reserve your ticket to either Antalya, Ismir or Istanbul. Don't let uneducated, ill-minded people change your minds. It's no longer 90s, truth to be told, enough to mess up with this country...

    January 27, 2012 at 5:06 am |
  20. William

    Europe doesn't want Turkey to join, the Eurokrats do but this will be their last year. The wind of change is blowing in the EU and it looks like the EU will be blown away, the EFTA will replace it and the socialist/communist experiment of the EU will collapse. Turkey is developing in a neo fascist state run by thugs and anti – western people, they want to become the new " leader " of the muslim world, rebuild the Ottoman empire. Be prepared.

    January 27, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  21. sameh

    You will not believe what was happening in the stadium during the match


    January 29, 2012 at 2:03 am |
  22. Marco Hsiao

    In a real world history Europe has worst record on violating human right. Immoral west Europe made ten millions of African black slaves, and tortured 1/3 of them to lose lives in Europe's ships, it is sinful butchery on violating human right in world history. France also viciously invaded North Africa and Vietnam, but now lies are spoken continually. Turkey and future Asian Union should stand on justice and to support suffering countries. Every suffering country should get apology and compensation (US$ 20-45 trillion) from France. Human right and human dignity should be respected.

    East Asia is rising, Europe is declining. Possibly within 5 years China will become largest import partner for Turkey. Now Turkey is a member of "Asian Olympic Game", right? In history, China's silk has exported to Europe via Persia and Anatolian Peninsula for 1500 years. Turkey should join the Asian Union not the European Union. Now the thinking might be strange, 10 years later will be different.

    January 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  23. janissary

    I agree with Jean Pierre Gunes.He says the most accurate things about TURKEY.you can live how you want.ın addition that Turkey is one of the most beautiful country ever seen.ı advise everybody visit it

    January 30, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  24. Lewis

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    Notify me of followup cotmenms via e-mail

    May 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
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    October 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm |

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