Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Turkish-American Businessmen's Association (TABA) has come back from a period of relative stasis.
Formed upon the encouragement of Turgut Özal, the former prime minister credited with changing the face of Turkey and elevating its business world to global standards, TABA-AmCham's history includes periods of steadily increasing activity. With Uğur Terzioğlu's arrival as president on June 22, 2006, these activities have begun to accelerate once again.
Born in 1933 in one of Turkey's most favorite vacation resorts in Milas, Uğur Terzioğlu is a colorful and well-known face in the Turkish business world as a result of the experience he garnered working in different sectors.
In 1965, he was the producer of a film called “Son Darbe” (“The Last Coup”) and was also the producer for other films in the 1960s such as “ Konuşan Gözler” (“Eyes that Speak”), “Ölüm Yaklaşıyor” (“Death Draws Near”), and “Eşkiya” (“Bandit”). He also worked as a producer with internationally renowned filmmakers such as the Italian director Antonio Margheriti on his picture “The World of Your” and the French director Jean-Marie Pallardy's “White Fire”. As a result of faithfully attending the Cannes Film Festival for 40 years, Terzioğlu was honored with an award from the organization. He is also the owner of one of Turkey's important film companies, namely EPS Film-making Internal and External Trade, Co. Terzioğlu is one of the founders of TABA-AmCham and is the only person to have served as President for two terms.
Terzioğlu has also been the General Coordinator for Turkey for the Italian Astaldi S.p.A. Construction Company for 23 years. This firm was the contractor for Gümüşova-Gerede Anatolian Highway, which provides the Bolu Mountain passage, considered one of Turkey's largest construction projects ever. On the advice of the Italian government's cabinet and with the blessing of the Italian President, Terzioğlu was awarded the “Cavaliere Della Rebubblica Italiana” medal in 2005. Before the Italians, the French government also had awarded him the “Chevalier De L’ordre” decoration in 1995. To top that off, he was also awarded the “Certificate of Merit” by President Jack Valenti of Motion Pictures Association of America in 1987. He also received “Business Leader” honor by the International Leaders' Association.
Aside from promoting Italian and Turkish political and economic relations and the knighthood decoration, this experienced businessman is a graduate of Robert College, where he met and become friends with many of Turkey's influential businessmen during his school years. He received his doctorate from Cost University in business in 1956. Terzioğlu states that he wants 2007 to be remembered as an active year when TABA-AmCham celebrates its 100th birthday in the far off future.
In addition to hosting the managers of the European Chambers of Commerce in Izmir this autumn, TABA- AmCham is also hosting another important event, namely the story of Turkey's Ambassador to Paris during the Second World War, Behiç Erkin, a man who saved nearly 19,000 people from the Nazi genocide. Erkin's grandson, Emir Kıvırcık, has written a book about his grandfather, “Büyükelçi” (“Ambassador”), which Terzioğlu has attempted to make into a documentary film.
The experienced businessman and TABA-AmCham President Uğur Terzioğlu evaluated the association and Turkish-American relations on its 20th birthday.
What is TABA-AmCham's role in Turkish-American relations?
The key role of TABA-AmCham in Turkish-American relations is fulfilling the authorized representation of the American Chamber of Commerce in Turkey. In relation, TABA works to increase Turkish-American trade relations; they bring firms together; they allow them to meet at a common denominator.
When you look at the projects TABA-AmCham has signed on to, how would you evaluate the distance covered? What needs to be accomplished in the coming years?
The proof that TABA-AmCham has come the distance is seen in its 20-year history and the fact that as a civil society organization it still has a serious say in what goes on in Turkish-American business life. It's undoubtedly true that this has come a bit late but one must take into consideration the conditions in Turkey before the 8th President Turgut Özal was able to implement economic change.
Turkey has an established trade relationship with the US going back 200 years. Upon considering this, isn't TABA-AmCham's establishment a bit late in coming?
As you know, industrialization, private sector development, and foreign investment in Turkey really only began in the 1970s, a process which accelerated in the 1980s. Therefore, when examining a 200-year period reaching back to the Ottoman Empire, Turkish-American trade in terms of volume can only really be discussed through the lens of the 1980s. A group of experienced businessmen decided to form TABA in 1987, on the heels of that transformation.
When America's trade with the world is examined, one can see that Turkey has not attained the level of trade desired. What are the current duties TABA-AmCham faces?
TABA-AmCham, by working with the American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, is attempting to attract American investors and businessmen to Turkey. This is one reason we wanted to support this special issue of TABA-AmCham that TurkofAmerica is publishing. Furthermore, the seminars and lectures we arrange for our members help to educate Turkish investors on how to do business in the US. Thus we have a two-pronged approach. We also produce and execute cooperative projects with TOBB, DEIK, TAIK, and TASED.
You work with many people well-respected in their fields in Turkey on the Board of TABA-AmCham. What is the biggest difficulty in running an organization that is voluntary such as TABA-AmCham? Is it possible to meet at a common ground in terms of relations with other organizations and associations?
All voluntary organizations actually have the same problems: their members are busy and don't have a lot of time to invest in voluntary activities. As TABA, we are able to overcome these problems. That is probably because we have a high sense of accountability as a Board of Directors.
On TABA-AmCham's 100th year anniversary of its founding in 2087, what kind of President would you like to be remembered as?
I would like this year to be remembered as “active”. We have planned monthly meetings, seminars, publications (like the TABA magazine) for the 2007 Plan and Program framework. In addition, in the autumn we will host the managers of the European Chambers of Commerce in Izmir. This is also a large-scale project. Besides the seminars, there will also be introductory sessions of Izmir and the surrounding region. As a matter of fact, one of my goals is for the branches to be more active in these activities.
The temporary freezing of TABA/AmCham activities for the past couple of years between American and Turkish officials are currently thawing in a joint manner. This is a positive result that will open the way for TABA/AmCham in the future. As the president, I am proud. Of course I will want to be remembered as a president that integrates and truly gets along with the Board of Directors.
WHO IS UĞUR TERZIOĞLU?
M. Uğur Terzioğlu was born in 1933, Milas (Muğla), Turkey. He graduated from Robert College, Commerce in 1954. After high school he received his BA degree in Pacific Institute of California.
Terzioğlu backed to Turkey and he started his career in his family business as a president of Terzizade A.S. The company had businesses in olive oil, cotton and tobacco industries. After having four years of experiences in different industries, he became a general director of Kimyagerler A.S., producers of plant protection chemicals.
While he was managing the companies, Terzioğlu involved in politics between 1956-1960 as a head of “Young Democratic Party” and he worked between 1963 – 1970 with the former “Justice Party”.
After working almost 14 years in two companies, Terzioğlu moved to Rome, Italy and he formed Rome based Film Centre Group which was handling international sales of movies for Turkey, Greece, M. East, Far East, and Holland.
He gained tremendous experiences in film industry in Italy and established two companies in film industry in Istanbul. One of his companies still owns 45 theatres in Turkey and the other one releases theatrical and television movies.
In 1986 Terzioğlu moved back to Istanbul as general coordinator of Astaldi S.p.A., Italian Construction Company which signed $1 billion contract to build highway, tunnels and viaducts. He presently keeps this post.
Terzioglu collaborated with Chase Manhattan Bank to finalize the Astaldi – Treasury syndications as well as with American International Banking both with support of SACE.
Has been awarded “Diamond of Merit” by MPAA (USA) and Chevalier of France – Founder of American Chamber of Commerce – former Chairman and co-chairman presently member of the Board and Chairman of AmCham Committee.
Mr. Terzioglu received a Medal of Honor from the Italian government in March 2005. He is a member of Italian Chamber of Commerce and DEIK. He is also elected second time as Chairman of TABA – AmCham on June 2006.
Terzioglu married to Cavidan and has one son Mustafa (suppose Fatos), and two grandchildren, Melis and Murat. Terzioglu speaks English – Italian.
(June 2007, Issue 25th, TABA-AmCham 20th Anniversary Special Issue)