Foreign Minister Babacan sees Turkey in top-10 class in 15 years

Today’s Zaman - Turkey expects to move into the world's top 10 economies in 15 years as it steps up major reforms and becomes a more European country, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has said. He pointed out Turkey is preparing for European Union membership despite opposition led by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has tried to shift the goal of talks to a lesser partnership. As a Muslim nation that is democratic, secular and multicultural, Turkey will add "huge strength" to the EU by expanding its cultures, ethnic groups and values and making the bloc "a truly global voice," not just a "Christian club," Babacan said. "A Europe of one religion is a very dangerous approach," he warned. Babacan spoke to a small group of reporters and later to business and political leaders attending the World Economic Forum on Saturday, stressing the country's transformation over the last five years and its determination to continue economic, political and social reforms. "For those who ask what kind of country Turkey is going to be in the next 10 to 15 years, it is going to be more and more of a European country," he said. Turkey is also preparing to become a major economic power, opening 10 embassies in sub-Saharan Africa and diplomatic missions in India and elsewhere to expand its international access, Babacan said. Between 2002-2006, economic growth averaged 7.5 percent, he said. In 2007, growth will turn out to be 4-5 percent because of drought and higher energy prices, and "for this year our target is around 5 percent," he noted.