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Biden calls for openness to create business climate

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 12:33 PM EST, Sat December 3, 2011
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The vice president is on a visit to Turkey
  • He spoke at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit
  • Biden said that openness leads to entrepreneurship

(CNN) -- On a visit to Turkey, Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday called for increased openness around the world, arguing that political and social freedoms create economic opportunities.

Biden spoke at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, hosted in Istanbul, whose goal is to promote entrepreneurship and facilitate innovation and private enterprise.

The changes that are happening in the Middle East and North Africa in the so-called Arab spring will create a new creative atmosphere in those places, Biden said.

"Democratic revolutions, like the ones in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and the ones still unfolding in Syria and Yemen, are literally imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit," he said. "They aim to do more than merely change the government that is in power. They also want to end practices like authoritarianism, corruption, the stifling of free expression -- practices that make political and economic freedom impossible."

Entrepreneurship is about creating free societies where ideas can flourish, the vice president said.

He cited equal opportunities for women as one thing that helps create a political climate that is conducive to letting ideas flourish.

Biden also called for access to the internet and freedom to use it. He said some countries may build walls, but that it must remain open because it is the conduit to "young and brilliant" minds.

The crowd applauded when he suggested that the next Steve Jobs might be a Turk, citing how Turkey's economy has tripled in size over the last decade.

He tied in his reference to the late Apple co-founder to the need for an open society.

"It's hard to 'think differently' if you are not free to think and openly express what you're thinking," he said.

Intellectual property rights must also be protected in every country, he said.

"The country that does not protect it, the society that tolerates the theft of innovation, will never develop its own indigenous capacity to create," Biden said.

Biden arrived Thursday in Ankara to meet with leaders of the Muslim ally to discuss what his office called "the full range of bilateral, regional, and international issues."

In a meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul Friday, Biden addressed a number of issues regarding other countries in the region, including Iran and Syria.

According to a senior administration official, there was discussion between the leaders about Iranian influence in Iraq. Biden's view was that the Iraqis strongly reject interference by anyone, especially Iran, the official said. Biden told Gul that Iranian influence in the region was declining that the country was becoming more isolated.

"It was a broader discussion of Iran: where it was going and the need to keep the pressure on to encourage them to change their behavior," the official said.

Biden also said he understood there was concern in the region about what might follow the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the official said. Biden's view is that Assad's regime is a source of instability in Syria and poses a danger of igniting sectarian conflict inside Syria and beyond, the official said.

The top priority, according to Biden, is to stop the regime's repression on civilians and to get Assad to leave power, the official said.

On Sunday afternoon, Biden is to fly to Athens, where he is to meet with Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and other politicians "to continue close dialogue and cooperation with the Government of Greece," the statement said.

Biden departs Athens Monday evening for Washington.

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