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Turkey boom dampened by Europe's troubles

From CNN staff
updated 8:58 AM EST, Fri January 13, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Istanbul is seen as a potentially pivotal center for relations between Europe and Asia
  • Turkey's economy is proving to be one of the strongest in the European region
  • Sabanci Group chair, Guler Sabanci, warns Europe's slowdown is "an important issue" for Turkey

(CNN) -- Turkey's Istanbul, the city where east meets west, is seen as a potentially pivotal center for relations between Europe and Asia.

Now Turkey, once home of the Ottoman Empire -- one of the most powerful empires in the world before its demise in the 1920s -- is on the rise again, with its economy proving to be one of the strongest in the European region.

"Turkey has outperformed Europe in the last two years, consecutively growing around 9%," Guler Sabanci, Sabanci Group chair, told CNN.

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Turkey, unlike many economies on the continent, has been in the midst of an economic boom. But the debt woes of those nearby inevitably impacts Turkey's health.

Nearly half of Turkey's exports head to the eurozone, while around 75% of the country's foreign investment is injected by Europe. Further 75% of the country's tourism comes from Europe.

Sabanci, who helms one of Turkey's largest companies, warns Europe's slowdown is "an important issue" for the country, and will create headwinds in the months ahead.

But Sabanci expects Turkey to continue its pitch for European Union membership, noting the country is already "economically integrated" with the region.

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She points to the UK's relationship with the European Union as one Turkey could emulate. "Is the UK a full member or not? Yes it is but is has a different model," she said. "I used to say that Turkey's accession to Europe is not a revolution, it's just an evolution," she added.

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