An interview with the General Director of “Koray Inshaat”, Zeynel Abidin Erdogan.
AT: In a short span of time Turkey has become one of the leading countries in the world because of the development of its economy. What is the reason for such development?
First of all, let me express my gratitude for giving me this opportunity. We not only look at Azerbaijan as a fraternal country, but we feel a debt to serve Azerbaijan as we our fatherland. To get to the point, we work here with great pleasure and dignity, and we consider this country our home. The basis of the development of Turkey’s economy lies in early times. The head of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, together with all the statesmen and builders of state have brought our country to this level by way of “Westernization.” The size of created income resources in Turkey and abroad is evident. Though Turkey is a debtor country, it ranks sixth in Europe and seventeenth in the world with a population of seventy-five million people. I wish we had oil and gas supplies too, which would be perfect for satisfying the demands of our country. I say this because a significant part of our national income is spent on oil and gas. In other words, this is the reason for Turkey’s debt. I think that Turkey will shortly solve this problem, and we will reach a higher level of prosperity and development in our country.
AT: How do you asses the first visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Azerbaijan?
The visit of the president of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, to Azerbaijan was not only for the purpose of extending bilateral political, economic, and cultural relations, but technology as well. As written in the report of the Association of Turkic- Azerbaijani Businessmen, for the work of businessmen from both countries to be profitable, they must help each other. The meeting of presidents Abdullah Gul and Ilham Aliyev looked like friends drinking coffee. In the speech Gul gave at the Azerbaijani parliament, he told us about the way of development. We look forward to the future development of political, economic, and cultural relations between our countries. We consider Azerbaijan as part of our country. I am sure that my Azerbaijani friends consider Turkey their home as well.
AT: Koray Inshaat Company is one of the leading businesses on the list of great building companies in Turkey, but also the world. Can you tell me about the history of your company?
Being a Turkish businessman, I do not want to interfere with political issues, but I am ready to apply all my knowledge and experience to Azerbaijan’s good. Indeed, I have participated in many great construction works in Turkey and bordering nations. We have implemented many projects outside Turkey. I am not going to take all of my knowledge to the grave with me. I want to share my experience with people, and, of course, I am ready to share it for the sake of the development of a friendly country. In regard to construction, I have told people in Azerbaijan to be careful, to which they asked me why. I was not satisfied with buildings from the static point of view, and I did not like the frame of the buildings either. We made similar mistakes in Turkey which resulted in 50,000 deaths after the earthquake. I told them that, because of the landscape of a large portion of Baku, builders need to be careful when building many storied mansions, which must be built according to all technical requirements. Unfortunately, fifteen to twenty storied buildings continue to be constructed on a vault with simple columns. Azerbaijan is situated on the same seismic zone that passes through the northern part of Turkey. The earthquake echoed throughout the entire Caucasus and passed through Turkmenistan to Japan. I advised my counterparts to be more tolerant and to stop construction for a period of time, and to continue construction only after accomplishing the technical works, securing the land, and completing issues concerning infrastructure. Only then will it correspond to all the standards. The controlling of all aspects of construction is very significant here, and it is the one of the forefront issues with the government. If you do not follow these requirements, Heaven forbid we would suffer an earthquake. I will always say that. I was in England when I heard that a building collapsed in Azerbaijan. I was told via telephone that they would need my help to which I answered that I was ready. Koray Inshaat is always ready to offer our support with technical equipment.
AT: What jobs have been completed by Koray Inshaat Company in Azerbaijan, and what do you plan to do in the future?
We are preparing to build the Trade and Business Center and housing estate. With more than fifty years of experience, we hope this will encourage people to hire our company so that we can work on a lot of projects in this country.
AT: In what other post-Soviet countries does your company do business?
In the past, our country worked in Kazakhstan. We also built the Ministry of Taxes, the Chamber of Accounts, and the Ministry of Economy in Moscow. Lately we have been working on the “Mega Ikea,” which has 240,000 square meters of space, in Yekaterinburg. We are always looking for new projects.
AT: Azerbaijan needs reforms to its state system. In comparison with Turkey, what must be done for the development of private business and wholesome competition?
The works aimed at the prosperity of Azerbaijan created by Heydar Aliyev and his son, Ilham Aliyev, the aiding activity of the First Lady in regard to education and health, and the attention given to children, the elderly, and the handicapped closely resemble the program introduced by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk when creating the Turkish Republic. I want to express my deep desire for the successful continuation of these important works, and wish good luck to all the people who participate in it. Also, Azerbaijan, using the rules of free market, must play the role of state regulator in economic areas.