Another Step For Sabancı University To Become A World-Renowned University


Further to its vision to become a "world university," Sabancı University has embarked upon a strategic partnership with Mercator Stiftung following the long-term co-operation agreement signed with the world-reputable MIT Sloan School of Management in January.

The strategic partnership framework agreement between Sabancı University's Istanbul Policy Centre and the Mercator Stiftung was signed by the chairman of Sabancı University, Ms Guler Sabancı, and the Chairman of Mercator Stiftung, Mr. Bernhard Lorentz, during a ceremony attended by luminaries from the German world of business, politics and civil society, at Mercator Stiftung's annual conference in Essen.

The five-year strategic partnership between the Istanbul Policy Centre and the Mercator Stiftung will focus on research and public policy generation on climate change, EU-Turkey relations and education.  The wide and varied research that will be devoted to climate change will in particular be a first for Turkey.  The Istanbul Policy Centre-Sabancı University-Mercator Foundation initiative is aimed to be a research centre and think tank based on a vision of Turkish-German equality and to develop joint policy with regard to Turkish-EU relations.

Following the ceremony, Guler Sabancı delivered a keynote address at the Mercator Stiftung's annual conference.

During the speech, called "Common Approaches to Global Challenges" Sabancı noted the following: "The close cooperation and friendship between Germany and Turkey go back over a century.  Germany is Turkey's most important trading partner and the biggest foreign investor in Turkey with investments totalling approximately 8.5 billion dollars since 1980. In 2010, bilateral trade reached a new record of approximately 26 billion Euros."


Sabancı continued: "Turkey and Germany are both members of the G-20, a body which should be even more instrumental in resolving global issues.  In 2009, Germany and Turkey jointly celebrated 50 years of successful bilateral development cooperation. Today, over 3900 German companies are doing business in Turkey - more than from any other country.

In terms of demographics, around 2.7 million people living in Germany are of Turkish origin and more than 700,000 of them have German nationality - constituting the largest Turkish community outside of Turkey.  Nearly 100,000 Turkish entrepreneurs in Germany employ approximately 400,000 people in the country.  Their total investments are worth around 10 billion euros.  Each year four million Germans spend their holidays in Turkey.

Through these strong links, Turkey and Germany are at a better position than their peers to develop a common response to today's global challenges, which can be summarized in three broad categories:  climate change, a turbulent global economy, and political instability in this region, which also happens to be the EU's hinterland. The current global energy picture looks unsustainable. The challenges to increase our energy supply to meet the worlds skyrocketing demand can be summed up in one simple fact: That we are headed for a serious increase in temperatures, which in effect will alter our living conditions. Our planet is struggling to absorb the environmental side effects of rapid economic growth.  Yet, our chance to alter the course of climate change is withering, as governments, with the exception of Germany's, are putting less and less financial and intellectual capital into developing sustainable energy policies." 


Both Turkey and Germany take the issue of climate change very seriously.  But, in the words of Goethe, "Enough words have been exchanged; now at last let me see some deeds!" 

The cooperation between the Sabancı University Istanbul Policy Center and the Mercator Foundation is one of the first steps in which the two countries can coordinate the actions needed to stop climate change.  Turkey is a nation of vital importance to Europe's energy security. Not only because Turkey is an "island of stability" within its own region but because it can influence that region and is a factor in reducing the tension that could lead to explosions and clashes at any moment.

Specifically, the European Union is facing the following threats: A high and growing dependency on imports of gas and oil; its efforts to create a fully integrated energy market;

political unrest and economic stagnation in supplier countries; and the necessity to switch to clean technology.

In order to secure its energy supplies, the EU needs to diversify its suppliers and its transit routes and has to develop a closer dialogue with producers and transit regions.  In this, what is the role of Turkey as a potential major hub?


Turkey is neighbours with 70% of the world's proven gas and oil reserves and thus forms a natural bridge between producers in Central Asia, the Caspian basin, the Middle East, Africa - and Europe. Using the benefits of its strategic position, Turkey can substantially contribute to the energy security of the EU.  It is not only a transit country for supplies from the Middle East and Central Asia but also an alternative route for Russian resources.  The EU was able to tap into the lucrative South American markets following the accession of Spain and Portugal. 

Similarly, Turkey's admission into the EU would allow it do the same to the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caspian region and the Caucasus thanks to Turkey's strong links with and influence in those regions. Turkey is a secure and stable country, a democracy with a secular system, and a longstanding member of NATO. Compared with other countries in the region these are significant assets. Turkey could help the EU to bring stability not only to the Middle East but also the Caspian and Caucasus regions. By delivering resources from those regions to Western markets, Turkey can help to raise their prosperity, thus improving political and economic stability.

In our neighbors to the south, we have witnessed an unprecedented wave of uprisings driven by the people who have long been the victims of inequality and authoritarian regimes.


The journey is not over.  The Arab Spring has not ended.  It has only just begun, and the democratization and liberalization process will take decades.  Turkey can act as a crucial source of support during these troubled times.

I called Turkey an island of stability in its region earlier.  And Germany has proven itself to be an island of stability in Europe during the financial crisis. Its economy is robust, industry growing, prospects strong.  Germany and Turkey are the two islands of stability in their region.  And cooperation between the two countries can only be mutually beneficial.

We know that the multiple challenges in the eastern and southern Mediterranean are global ones that require regional and global solutions. A common approach by Turkey and Germany is of huge importance in this context.

Turkey has emerged as one of the more dynamic emerging economies over the last decade. Turkey's first quarter growth rate in this year was an amazing 11 percent. Last year's growth was almost 9 percent. The resilience and dynamism of Turkey signals the potential for a new partnership between Germany and Turkey, a partnership that can be more equal and more balanced than in the past. Today both countries are perceived as "successful countries", with economies that seem to perform and that can provide examples for others.

While we should be proud of our performance, I think history teaches us that with success comes the danger of overconfidence. Looking at Turkey in the summer of 2011, it is when times are relatively good that difficult reforms should be undertaken, that fiscal policy should be tightened, that the current account deficit should be reduced and that the basis should be built for truly sustainable growth.

Looking at Germany, the strength of the German economy and the wonderful performance of German industry in world markets, should allow Germany to take a leadership role in building the Europe of 2020, based on both greater responsibility of each country in terms of fulfilling obligations to the Eurozone, but also greater coordination of policies and solidarity across countries that share a common currency and a common destiny.

Systemic risk has become much more complex in the world economy as interdependence has increased in various ways. Take the example of our neighbor, Greece.  Greek GDP is about one half of a percent of world GDP. It is a very small economy in terms of world GDP or world trade, or indeed world financial assets. And yet if the situation in Greece is not soon resolved, it could become a real threat not only to the European Union but to the world economy.

Various financial derivatives tie Greek debt to the world financial system. Moreover, what happens in Greece can set precedents.  Even countries with much lower debt to GDP ratios can become vulnerable. That is why there is fear of contagion. 

We have all become much more interdependent than two or three decades ago. While neither Germany nor Turkey is directly threatened both countries have a strong interest in Greece's recovery, because the European and world economy as a whole could be threatened, and that would of course affect us all. 

Today's Turkey is a crucial partner for Europe.  While continuing to insist on its European future, Turkey is already in a position to be Europe's partner to resolve issues in the Mediterranean and the global energy arena, while strengthening the foundations of its democracy.

Turkey thrives as the only stable country in its own region.  With its secular democracy, rapidly growing economy, and a civil society that is growing stronger, it can continue to set a good example for its neighborhood. 

The European Union was founded on the principles of diversity, peace, and cooperation.  When we talk about issues concerning Turkey, or specifically its candidacy, we are talking about Europe's founding principles of cultural diversity, extending the zone of peace, and living together in harmony.  

The European Union cannot afford to be a museum.  It must be an active player in the domain of international politics.  In brief, Turkey and the EU need each other.  And the EU is Turkey's destiny.  Turkey's accession to the EU is an evolution: both for Turkey and the EU.  Governments come and go.  Relationships remain.  And they can get better. Even though the journey is more important than the destination, I never lose my hope that Turkey will eventually become a full-fledged member of the EU. 

One final point that I will make before concluding my remarks is on the burgeoning relations between the civil societies of Europe and Turkey.  The number of European civil society organizations with Turkish branches doubled in the last decade.  I am happy to see that with the representation in Turkey of prestigious German think tanks such as the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and Heinrich Böll Foundation, Germany is the leader in this initiative. 

In light of these positive developments, we are here today to launch another important partnership with our German friends.  The Mercator Foundation and Sabancı University have decided to launch a strategic and long-term cooperation to be implemented by the Istanbul Policy Center of Sabancı University.

The Istanbul Policy Center-Sabancı University- Stiftung Mercator Initiative will explore and develop German and Turkish perspectives both on Europe and its future and on global issues.  The partnership will focus on the following three core areas:  climate change, the common German-Turkish approach to the future of Europe and EU-Turkey relations, and education.  How do Germans and Turks perceive and approach this global challenge? How is it likely to affect economic and energy policies? How will Germany and Turkey approach the issue at the G20 meetings? What can Turks and Germans do together on this issue?  How do Germany and Turkey perceive the position of other major actors, such as China and the United States when it comes to climate change? 

Over the next five years, we will seek the answers for these and other questions.  We are hoping that Turkey and Germany will start to see each other in a new light.  We are here to change mindsets.  I know that we will follow the work of this new enterprise with great hope, confidence and ambition".