Minister of Industry and Technology, Mehmet Fatih Kacır, emphasized the historic opportunity presented by the 7.5 billion euros Digital Europe Program Participation Agreement signed between Turkey and the European Union, stating, “With this program, we will establish the European digital innovation center (ADIM) in our country to support the digital transformation of our industry, SMEs, and public institutions.”
Minister Kacır met with Oliver Varhelyi, the European Commission’s Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, at the Ministry, and following their meeting, they held a press conference regarding the Digital Europe Program Participation Agreement signed between Turkey and the EU in recent days.
In his speech, Minister Kacır emphasized the importance of strong international cooperation in science, technology, innovation, and trade, saying, “EU programs offer an important perspective for us. They provide opportunities for our researchers, entrepreneurs, and industrialists to collaborate with European stakeholders. Under the Horizon 2020 Program, we have gained approximately 297.5 million euros, well above the contribution we paid for the first time. In the Horizon Europe Program, we have obtained approximately 154 million euros in the last two years.”
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION
Kacır pointed out that the EU values utilizing its competence in science, technology, and innovation and contributing more strongly to this ecosystem. He recalled that the agreement on Turkey’s participation in the Digital Europe Program was signed by both parties and explained that this 7.5 billion euro program offers a historic opportunity for everyone. He further elaborated that the program provides funding for the establishment of strategic infrastructure in areas such as high-performance computing and artificial intelligence, as well as the development of the necessary human resources in these fields.
SUPPORT FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
Kacır stated, “As a result of Turkey’s participation in the program, our stakeholders will be able to benefit from the critical infrastructure established within the program. We aim for all stakeholders in our economy, especially our SMEs, to effectively benefit from the Digital Europe Program by applying to the calls opened by the European Commission. At the same time, we will enhance the digital skills of all our stakeholders. With this program, we will establish ADIMs in our country to support the digital transformation of our industry, SMEs, and public institutions. We have already issued national calls for these centers. At the end of the process, after the final evaluations are completed by the European Commission, we will have opened these centers in our country in the first half of 2024. These centers will provide services such as investment pre-testing, finding investors, training, and network development, especially for SMEs.”
Kacır emphasized the importance of achieving green transformation to maintain the competitiveness of industries, mentioning that Turkey is the number one producer in Europe in sectors such as solar panels, household appliances, commercial vehicles, flat glass, and cement production. He also noted that they have initiated the process of compliance with the European Green Deal through the Green Agreement Action Plan and are working to create the financial infrastructure necessary for successful green transformation. He mentioned projects such as the “Turkey Green Industry Project” worth 450 million dollars and the “Green OIZ Project” worth 300 million dollars, developed in collaboration with the World Bank. He also expressed their openness to cooperation with the EU, including the IPA III Program.
Kacır highlighted another important issue in relations with the EU, which is visa liberalization. He said, “The current situation has multifaceted negative consequences not only for Turkey and Turkish citizens but also for the EU. Due to the visa policy that obstructs the goals and ideals of our industrialists who play a strong role in the European value chain, our scientists actively contributing to European research, our entrepreneurs supporting Europe’s technological development, our engineers, and our young people who want to get to know Europe better, we cannot fully utilize the cooperation potential between Turkey and the EU. Updating the Customs Union has also become a necessity for both sides. In the coming period, we will witness concrete steps in this vital matter, both for fair access of Turkish companies to the European market and for Turkey to contribute much more to the EU. We attach great importance to Turkey-EU relations and collaborations, and we support them. In the coming period, I believe we will continue our efforts to make progress on the path to the EU.”
SUCCESS STORY OF PARTNERSHIP
Varhelyi, the European Commission’s Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, said that he and Minister Kacır discussed cooperation between Turkey and the EU in technology, research, and innovation fields. He described this partnership as a success story and stated, “Turkey has an increasing contribution to the Horizon Europe Program. Turkey contributed 62 million euros to the program in one year. This figure was 35 million euros in 2020. We also expect Turkey to continue its contributions in areas such as clean energy and hydrogen.”
Varhelyi stated that Turkey’s participation in these programs will lay the foundation for further advancement in future collaborations and relations, enabling Turkey to fully participate in the domestic market. He also mentioned that with the Digital Europe Program, participants in Turkey will have more knowledge and contribution in cloud technology, and through ADIMs, they will make a greater contribution to digital transformation, including the development of artificial intelligence and digital skills.
“WE SEE TURKEY AS A GROWING INNOVATION COUNTRY”
Varhelyi expressed that they see Turkey as a growing innovation country, saying, “This participation will greatly contribute to our joint development. As the Commission, we have facilitated Turkey’s entry into these programs by reducing entry costs. Turkey received a subsidy from us. Last year, in Brussels, we initiated the High-Level Science and Technology Dialogue between the EU and Turkey. We plan to organize the second one in Ankara in a short time. We expect new projects that will further strengthen our partnership in the future. We expect projects from the private sector to assist in the transformation in clean energy and hydrogen. A new technology-based economy is emerging in Turkey, and we want to be a part of it.”