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Three Turks in Italy

This is not an adaptation of Rossini’s opera Il turco in Italia. Rather it is an attempt by three Turkish bureaucrats to find sustenance – outside their own country – for their ambitious economic programme. Turkey’s central bank governor, treasury under-secretary, and stock exchange chief, roadshow their country to investors in western Europe. They are later joined in London by privatization boss Ugur Bayar. Metin Munir goes along for the ride

We are standing in front of La Scala restaurant in Milan, engulfed in heat and a sense of failure, waiting for the limousines which will take us to the airport. Our little group includes bankers from Garanti Securities and Merrill Lynch and three of the four king-pins of Turkey's financial bureaucracy: treasury under-secretary Selcuk Demiralp, central bank governor Gazi Ercel and Istanbul Stock Exchange chairman Osman Birsen. The fourth, Privatization Administration chairman Ugur Bayar, will join us in London, which is our next port of call.


We are on a three-day road show covering Frankfurt, Milan and London - in that order - to convince investors that Turkey has got serious about putting its house in order.


Turkey has an atrocious record for economic discipline. Britain's inflation at 0.5% a year, the lowest in Europe, is something the Turkish economy can manage in three days or at most a week. "You think you have inflation? We have inflation," is the proud boast of the Turk.


So the task facing Demiralp&Co is not an easy one. But our sense of failure is not about that, but something more basic. We had seen prospective investors tuck into their lunch while the trio made a good case for Turkey's economic U-turn.




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