On January 14th 2015, Global Relations Forum and Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) held the inaugural meeting of the “Project on the Economic Future of the Middle East and North Africa Region” at the Metropolitan Club in New York. During the meeting, GRF members convened with distinguished policy and industry leaders from the US to discuss the ways in which the collaboration between the public and private sectors in Turkey and the US can assist the economic transformations in the MENA Region that are required for a path towards sustained development as well as political and economic stability.
The opening remarks of the meeting were made by Prof. Vali Nasr, Dean of SAIS, and Memduh Karakullukçu, Vice-Chairman and President of GRF, and focused on why the US-Turkey and government-private sector collaboration axes are relevant for addressing the economic challenges faced by the MENA Region. Subsequently, GRF Member Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca Cola Company gave a speech on the potential and existing initiatives for reducing youth unemployment in the region and elaborated on best practice examples, such as the “Partners for a New Beginning” initiative.
The first session of the meeting, entitled “Economic and Political Stability as a Strategic Regional Challenge”, was moderated by Prof. Vali Nasr. During this interactive session, the discussion revolved around the following questions:
- What are the major obstacles to achieving economic and political stability in the region?
- Is economic and political stability in the region perceived by policy-makers in the US, Europe and Turkey as a global strategic objective?
- What is an ideal regional solution for the political and economic transitions underway in the region?
The second session of the meeting, entitled “Imagining and Managing Economic Integration”, was moderated by Memduh Karakullukçu. During the discussion, the participants reflected on the following questions:
- What role can the private sector play in shaping economic integration of the region?
- What role can multilateral institutions play in attracting global business to the region?
- How can emigration from the region be managed by states to benefit economic and political stability?
- What role can Turkey play in facilitating economic and political transitions in the region?
- How can the United States work with Turkey to shape stability in the region?
The meeting was concluded after Mr. Karakullukçu and Prof. Nasr’s closing remarks.