By: Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Somaliland sun – – As France and the world mourn the terrorist slaughter of innocents in Paris, the leaders of the G-20 are meeting in Antalya, Turkey.
Terror will now vault to the top of the long list of pressing issues that will be discussed. The G-20, whose members account for about 85% of the world economy, has an important responsibility to respond to challenges that affect the lives and prosperity of millions of people around the world. It cannot risk falling into complacency and inaction, whether regarding terrorism or the fragile state of the world’s economy.
Since Turkey assumed the presidency of the G-20 in December 2014, our approach toward ensuring inclusive and robust growth through collective action has enjoyed the support of the organization’s members. This effort has been built on three pillars: decisive implementation of past commitments, boosting investments as a powerful driver of the global economy, and promotion of inclusiveness so that the benefits of growth are shared by all.
When it comes to implementation, great strides have been made. By promoting sound macroeconomic and fiscal policies and implementing solid, structural reforms, we have made significant progress toward our objective of expanding the G-20’s collective GDP by 2.1% by 2018. The global financial system is now more resilient than it has ever been. Financial capacities are being rebuilt, and new growth targets are being met.
But there remains much more to be done. G-20 members should expedite efforts to deliver on their commitments to boost productivity and eliminate structural bottlenecks to investment, competition, trade, and jobs. We must also cement the fundamental reforms to the global financial system that the G-20 has delivered over the past seven years.
Our focus on investment – a key driver of growth, jobs, and development – is also beginning to pay off. There is a huge investment gap in the global economy, both in advanced and developing countries. That is why we need developed-country strategies that bring together concrete policy actions and commitments to improve the investment ecosystem, support small and-medium-size enterprises, and promote the construction of efficient, high-quality infrastructure. If the G-20 members fully implement their commitments under these strategies, their collective GDP is expected to increase by another 1%.
Economic growth must be strong and sustainable; but, above all, it must be inclusive. Inequality is rising in many G-20 countries; in some cases, it has reached historic highs. This is a dangerous development, one that can retard growth, threaten the cohesion of societies, and jeopardize people’s wellbeing. It is imperative that the G-20 tackle inequality head on and demonstrate its determination to ensure that all of its member countries’ citizens enjoy the fruits of economic growth.
Reducing unemployment is central to the fight against inequality. There are about 100 million jobless people in the G-20, and another 200 million young people who are neither working nor studying. Significantly reducing youth unemployment is one of the G-20’s most important commitments.
Inclusiveness cannot stop at the borders of the G-20. We must work to ensure that the benefits of growth and prosperity are shared by people all over the world. In Antalya, we will discuss how we can align our efforts with the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and increase our engagement with low-income, developing countries.
As politics and economics are increasingly intertwined, the G-20 must also work together to confront our era’s geopolitical challenges. This year is an important one in the fight against climate change. We must send a strong political message from Antalya in support of a successful outcome at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that takes place in Paris from November 30 to December 11.
Meanwhile, the terror attacks in Paris have brutally reminded us, once again, that global challenges – such as terrorism, the war in Syria, and the refugee crisis – require truly global responses. The G-20 is an ideal forum in which to address them.
The Syrian civil war – now well into its fourth year – must be brought to an end, and a fair and sustainable political transition must be ensured. The conflict and the brutal state terrorism of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is not only the cause of terrible suffering in Syria and the death of more than 360,000 people; it is also the root of the refugee crisis and the emergence of Daesh – a threat to all countries. Turkey is a member of the coalition against Daesh, and we are seeking to degrade and destroy this terrorist menace in our country and beyond our borders.
At the same time, we must not allow ourselves to forget the plight of those fleeing the brutality of the Assad regime and Daesh. The international community that shuddered at the photograph of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian toddler who was found dead on a Turkish beach, must be made to remember that many more like him are dying every day in the cold waters of the Mediterranean and the Aegean.
Turkey is currently hosting some 2.2 million Syrian refugees, and we have spent more than $8 billion over the last three years caring for them. The international community must agree on a mechanism that ensures that the burden is fairly shared.
Finally, it is important to note that Turkey continues to confront the threat of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization listed as a terrorist group by both the United States and the European Union. Turkey has implemented a large number of reforms and made major investments to the benefit of our Kurdish citizens. And yet the PKK has refused to disarm, instead amassing weapons and attacking civilian and security targets across the country. As we continue to fight the scourge of terrorism in our country, we call on all countries not only to mourn the dead in Paris, but to reject terrorism in all of its forms.
The G-20 Summit in Antalya will address these and other major issues confronting the world. Whether the subject is economics, finance, climate change, or politics, the guiding principle must be equality and justice for all.
The author Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is President of the Republic of Turkey
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2015.