Free Market Road Show, 12 May 2012, Ankara

Europe at a Turning Point: Europe on the Road to Serfdom?

12 May 2012, Ankara Ickale Hotel

2012 Free Market Road Show stopped in Ankara, Turkey for a conference organized by the Association for Liberal Thinking with the contributions of Friedrich Naumann Foundation on May 12th. In the program titled as “Europe at a Turning Point: Europe on the Road to Serfdom?”, it was pointed out that the economic crisis that the European Union has been facing was the result of the EU’s centralized and harmonized policies and that Europe should be the place of diversity, plurality, free trade and free markets.

The meeting led by Austrian Center of Economics and the Hayek Institute was also sponsored by the Liberty Fund, European Coalition for Economic Growth, European Students for Liberty as well as Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

Opening remarks were delivered by the head of EU Harmonization Committee in the TurkishParliament Prof. Dr. Mehmet Tekelioglu, Izmir MP and Austrian Commercial Attaché Mr. Konstatin Bekos. Tekelioglu reminded that EU was established for the purpose of living together in peace and EU’s verge on “Road to Serfdom” sounds like a paradox. Then, he noted his questions upon that where Greece would have been if it was not in Euro Zone and how the current economic crisis and the Arab Spring would influence each other. Then, Bekos emphasized that EU is not a religious union.

 After that, Dean of Law Faculty at Istanbul Trade University and cofounder of ALT Prof. Dr. Mustafa Erdogan who made a keynote speech about “European Union and Freedom”, argued that despite the desire of establishing democracy and human rights, EU is in a pretentious and ambitious path and her tendency towards a central bureaucratic institution -as in the way that nation-states asserted- threatens our individual freedoms and free market economy.

In the first session chaired by Prof. Dr. Metin Toprak, the vice-president of Turkish Competition Authority, the title was “Individualism or collectivism, what is the cost of state to the citizens?” Prof. Dr. Güneri Akalin from Istanbul Aydin University mentioned that the cost of state to the citizens should be 10% meaning that %10 flat tax would be reasonable. He added that the economic crisis in Greece has enabled liberal policies to be discussed as an alternative. Bugra Kalkan, asst. editor of the quarterlyLiberal Thought drew attention to the influence of the relation between rule of law and the market economy over the economic crises. He underlined that state interventions and regulations should not harm the process of wealth creation by markets; exceptions should not interfere the private lives of individuals and the efficiency of price mechanism. Then, an American businessman Terry Anker said that he has been considering the people whose lives were ruined by the economic crises and the ones who lost their courage. Thus, he emphasized the importance of individualism and trade for the protection of our freedoms and for developing responsibility.

In the second session “harmonization or competition: which one is more efficient for economic growth?” was tackling question. Paata Sheshelidze from New Economic School, Georgia was the chairman. Prof. Dr. Mustafa Acar, rector of Aksaray University talked about the lack of reformist leaders, the problem of aging population and fiscal crisis in Europe. Besides, he noted that monetary and fiscal union should be separated and while the competition rules were being harmonized, the obstacles before the operation of markets should be removed. Then, Dr. Fuat Oguz, Assoc. Prof. in economics at Yildirim Beyazit University debated that it was a contradiction that while capitals are mobilized, the administrations are centralized. He continued with that the governments should be competitive, otherwise there would be incentive problem as it is the case in free markets. Moreover, he noted that EU bureaucracy is making the rules highly complex so that controlling becomes easier. The director of European Center for International Political Economy Dr. Razeen Sally talked about the development of EU since its establishment and he stated that while EU was aiming to keep small, then it turned out to be a supranational union, thus under the European Central Bank, the fiscal union was proceeded; however, this would dissolve the Euro zone. The ideal solution he asserted was the emergence of plenty of Swiss like systems. The director of Institute for Economic Studies-Europe Prof. Dr. Pierre Garello focused on that the first solution applied is to raise taxes when a crisis is encountered; however while individuals take lessons from their mistakes, governments do not and eventually the costs would be shouldered over people.  

In the last session, the topic was “Euro or sound money?” In the session which the future of Euro was debated, Matt Kibbe from Freedom Works in America was the speaker. Gia Jandieri from New Economy School mentioned about the economic developments in Georgia. Prinz Michael von Liechtenstein from LGT Group discussed whether Euro is a driving force for the integration. Then, John Fund from the Wall Street Journal talked about instead of debating over whether Turkey’s EU membership with its high population would be a burden for the EU in other words, instead of questioning whether EU could digest Turkey, it should be argued that whether Turkey would be in a hardship to digest EU’s centralized structure and economy in crisis considering Turkey’s improving economy. After that, the chairman of the session and economist Unsal Cetin warned that Turkey’s current economic and fiscal policies could drag Turkey into a crisis in the midterm.

Academicians, bureaucrats, politicians, journalists and businessmen were the participants who followed the program with a great interest. The participants had the opportunity to hear the cause of the economic crises is not free market on the contrary to the popular agenda, but centralization, state intervention, harmonization and common currency policies and they also had a chance to reconsider the institutions to protect our political and economic freedoms so as to live in peace and prosperity. 


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