“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.”
To have development, we need investment and to have investment, we need foreign capital. This is why we adopt certain policies such as the acceptance of international arbitration to attract capital to our country.
It still remains, though, that today intellectual capital is more important than financial capital. Leading countries make up for their deficits in creative and informed brainpower by luring such individuals to their midst. The number of work permits and citizenship issued by the United States to experts in Information Technology (IT) doubled in the last two years. Microsoft’s research indicates that despite heavy investment in education Europe’s deficit in IT workforce will increase from 8 percent to 14 percent. Germany is preparing its largest program since the 1970’s to attract foreigners so as not to be left behind in the IT race.
Since Turkey devotes limited resources to research and development, we need to be able attract as much brainpower as financial capital.
Our country’s cultural and historical legacy can be our competitive advantage. Five hundred years ago we hosted the victims of the Spanish Inquisition. Mehmet the Conqueror granted many rights to members of different religious and cultural communities after the conquest of Istanbul. These, along with our reputation for generous hospitality are testimony to our ability and experience to live with diversity. As xenophobia makes a comeback in several European countries, Turkey provides an attractive alternative workplace for foreigners.
Our mild Mediterranean climate, our natural and historical riches are not just tourist attractions. They also attest to a high quality of life. Istanbul became one of the more exciting cities in Europe when it comes to nightlife. In fact, many companies move their regional central offices to Istanbul and their workers enjoy living there. This is another strength for our country.
Industries that rely on information and technology like to congregate in clusters so as to develop by sharing information. During the Second World War, German academics fleeing Hitler’s regime made great contributions to the development of science and of the University system in Turkey. If we can provide the necessary infrastructure and proper incentives for creative minds and lure them here, then we can help the development of our country and our people.
The attraction of creative minds deserves equal and perhaps higher priority than attracting foreign capital and thus it should become a state policy. If Turkey becomes a world center of development in information and ideas, then we can look forward to a more prosperous future.