Opening of OECD Istanbul Centre, 22 January 2021


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 22 January 2021

Dear President Erdoğan, Ministers, Excellencies, Friends,

I am delighted to join you today to open our new OECD Istanbul Centre. Allow me to begin by thanking the Turkish Government for their crucial support and commitment to this important initiative.

I would like to extend my appreciation to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for joining us. We are excited to be collaborating with Turkey – a founding member of the OECD – to promote our shared commitment to multilateral co-operation across regions. Let me also take this opportunity to thank the President for contributing a wonderful video message for our event in December last year to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the OECD Convention.

And of course, I want to thank Ambassador Erdem Başçı for his personal dedication to this important initiative and in building a stronger Turkey-OECD relationship.

I am certain that the Istanbul Centre will build on its strategic location to further the mission of the OECD, to better promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, as well as stronger co-operation, within the region, and beyond.

Opening a regional centre sends a strong message in these times of nationalism, isolationism and protectionism. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that no country alone can face a global threat. International co-operation is beneficial to all. It is vital if we truly wish to “build back better”.

The OECD is about multilateralism. Entirely committed to promoting responsible, effective, inclusive and sustainable outcomes of international co-operation, while working with stakeholders from across the world.

The Istanbul Centre will play a pivotal role in the continued pursuit of these goals. And it joins OECD Centres around the globe in Berlin, Mexico City, Tokyo, and Washington.

The Istanbul Centre will focus on four fundamental pillars of our work. Let me briefly outline them:

First, the Centre will reinforce and deepen our relationships with partner and emerging economies. It will provide a platform for best practices and experiences across and among OECD regional programmes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Eurasia, South East Europe and Southeast Asia, and help break down silos between those regions.

It will also support our work with Key Partners – China, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil – thereby contributing to enhance the reach and impact of OECD standards and policy recommendations.

Second, it will foster intra-regional dialogue and co-operation on complex, cross-cutting issues, such as climate change, green and inclusive growth, good governance, transparency and data, sustainable investment, connectivity, regional integration, gender equality, education and skills.

It will do so by involving all stakeholders – governments, businesses and civil society – who play a key role in shaping an inclusive approach to policymaking and improving well-being.

Third, through the Centre, we will improve the statistical underpinning of our public policies by integrating more partner countries into our statistical databases and policy indicators.

And fourth, with its top-level training facilities, the Centre will make the most of the OECD’s policy experience and experts. It will provide training and capacity building for policymakers to ensure that innovative and effective reform agendas have a meaningful impact on citizens’ lives.

It will also help increase the visibility and impact of our work and contribute to advancing the implementation of OECD’s Global Relations Strategy.

President Erdoğan, Dear Friends,

As the French author Alphonse de Lamartine wrote: “If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.”

Istanbul is and has always been at the world’s crossroads. It has always been central, it has always been seen. This is why I believe the new OECD Istanbul Centre is such a timely and appropriate initiative, and why it will help further the mission of the OECD, bridging the needs of countries, stimulating true dialogue and supporting our ambition for better policies for better lives, in the region and beyond.

Many Thanks, Çok teşekkürler


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