Turkey lays out a new co-operative development strategy

25 Mar 2013



Turkey's Prime Minister is backing a new action plan to further co-operative development.

The Co-operative Strategy and Action Plan aims to create a more efficient environment for co-operatives in Turkey.

Referring to the plan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it is “of paramount importance”, particularly since it was drafted in the International Year of Co-operatives. He added that he hoped the plan would be beneficial not only for the co-op sector, but also for the country’s economy.

The action plan consists of three main chapters: Co-operatives in the World and in Turkey, Situation Analysis and Strategic Approach.

Hayati Yazici, the Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade, Directorate General of Co-operatives, said the plan aims to provide the basis for a sustainable policy for co-operatives. The Minister spoke of co-operatives as successful enterprise models that encourage social responsibility and involve the civil society through democratic ownership. He believes that co-ops are key to securing sustainable growth and economic development.

Co-ops are also mentioned in Article 171 of the Turkish Constitution, which requires the state to support and promote co-operative enterprises.

The action plan mentions several measures that need to be implemented in order to secure a more favourable environment for co-operatives. The document reveals that more financial, technical and legal support is needed to further co-operative development. While co-ops are common in agriculture and housing, there are few or no co-ops in other sectors such as retailing, finance, insurance, energy generation, education and health.

Other challenges for co-operatives are the lack of knowledge and experience of co-op managers, insufficient training, and bureaucracy. According to the action plan, co-ops need to provide their input when new co-op policies are developed.

To address these concerns, a new organisation will be created to conduct training and research activities. A co-operative database will also be created through an online platform. The current structure of co-op organisations and associations will also be revised to ensure that co-ops are better represented. Furthermore, the Co-operative Law 1163 will be updated to make sure it is in line with international standards.

The regulatory and monitoring capacity of the relevant ministries regarding co-ops will be increased and legal measures will also be taken to enable the liquidation of inactive co-operatives. Tax and competition laws will also be revised to make sure co-ops benefit from a favourable tax regime.

Turkish authorities also aim to involve co-operatives, trade unions and voluntary organisations in training sessions and various campaigns that would raise awareness of co-operative principles and the enterprise model.

Members of the audit and executive boards of co-operatives will also be required to have training certificates. Co-operation among co-operatives of all sizes will also be encouraged, both at a national and international level.

Photo: Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.