Bag’ish Asks Muslims To Abandon Swiss BanksFont Size: Larger|Smaller


Hurriyet Daily News
Dec 2 2009

Egemen Bag’ish says he is sure that ‘the minaret ban will be an
opportunity for Muslims to review their decision to keep their money
in Swiss banks.’ DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SONMEZ

Turkey’s chief negotiator with the European Union has called on
Muslims to withdraw their money from Swiss banks.

A Turkish economist said that if the call, which is in response to
the "minaret ban" in Switzerland, is followed by action, Turkey may
indeed manage to divert some of the bank accounts to itself.

Speaking on Tuesday about the controversial "minaret" ban, Egemen
Bag’ish said he is sure that "the ban would be an opportunity for
our Muslim brothers to review their decision to keep their money in
Swiss banks."

Replying to a question on whether such a move would create a backlash
by encouraging "Christians to withdraw their money from Turkish banks,"
Bag’ish said Turkey does not exercise any ban on Christian faith.

"There is no reason for Christians to do so," he told journalists
in Brussels. "All religions are freely practiced in Turkey. For 900
years, mosques, churches and synagogues in Turkey have been offering
peace to humanity.

"Not only Turks, but many Muslims have investments and funds in
Swiss banks. Last year, all global banks had losses or went bankrupt,
but not even a single Turkish bank was at a loss," he said.

"The Turkish banking sector showed its resilience in the 2008 crisis.

Thus, I am giving a message to those who wish to review their
investments in Turkey [by saying] that Turkey should be taken
into account. Turkey is a safe harbor and the right address for
investments," Bag’ish said.

"In essence, Turkey is trying to attract Turkish investments in various
countries in an effort to strengthen its foreign currency situation,"
said economist Kerem Alkin in relation to Bag’ish’s statements.

"[What Bag’ish said] might be a wise tactic to widen the scope to
all Muslims," he said.

"However, if Muslims who have Swiss bank accounts are keeping their
money there for different reasons, such as for less taxes or [because
of] sound banking, attracting them might be difficult," Alkin told
the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

"It may be necessary to follow these words with deeds, questioning
why Muslims keep their money at Swiss banks," he said.

Noting that Swiss banks did not do well amid the global crisis, Alkin
said Bag’ish might be trying to seize an opportunity during a period
when the image of Swiss banks is vulnerable.

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