Turkish industry upbeat

BRUSSELS (AP) – A Turkish industrialists’ alliance was bullish yesterday about Turkey’s chances for entering the EU, saying it would be an economic boon for the bloc, even as an EU official in Ankara said the country’s economic and political reform drive was backsliding. Omer Sabanci, head of the Turkish Industrialists and Business Association, or TUSIAD, downplayed misgivings about the entry into the EU of the overwhelmingly Muslim, relatively poor nation of more than 70 million people. «What’s important now is that we continue to convince our European counterparts that they have a vested interest in Turkey’s EU membership,» Sabanci said. «Turkey has been here before,» he said. «We have overcome similar difficulties and have always managed to keep on track.» Sabanci was attending a one-day conference in Brussels to mark the first anniversary of the start to Turkey’s EU membership talks. But plans to admit Turkey, a prospect unlikely to happen before 2015, have run into opposition, notably in France and Germany. «Turkey’s vibrant economy will be a great asset to the EU,» Sabanci told the conference. While European politicians might see «hurdles,» he said, EU business leaders saw opportunities in admitting a country with «a gross domestic product of 300 billion euros ($382 billion) and an estimated annual growth rate of 6 percent this decade.»