The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Friday launched its fifth regional center in Istanbul, aiming to develop its ties across Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa, southeastern Europe, and Southeast Asia.

The new OECD Istanbul Centre will be instrumental to back countries in these regions and lay the groundwork for a sustainable post-pandemic recovery.

“We are one step closer to our goal of making Istanbul a center for international organizations, including the UN,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inaugurating the center at a virtual event.

He noted that Turkey, through the new OECD center, would be able to contribute more to the organization’s work across wide geographies.

Underlining that besides economic problems, injustice was also increasing across global society, Erdogan praised the OECD’s important role in combating the pandemic’s negative impact on the world.

“The organization has prepared strong, inclusive and sustainable proposals for revitalizing economic growth and employment on a global scale,” he added.

Stressing that these efforts would accelerate the recovery process in the upcoming period, Erdogan said the Istanbul headquarters would serve the organization’s strategy towards partner countries, strengthening trade and investment relations with non-member countries.

“We hope the center will play a truly central role in the work of the OECD and will provide a wide range of services in communication with Paris,” he said.

New era

Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said Turkey-OECD ties are set to enter a new era with the establishment of the center.

Stating that COVID-19 forced the whole world into a serious transformation, Pekcan noted: “In this process, it was once again revealed how important international cooperation is rather than destructive competition.”

“Now, it is time to rebuild a better world for the post-pandemic [era]. For this, Turkey expects significant contributions from the OECD and OECD Istanbul Center for our country, region and world,” she added.

“Choosing Istanbul as the OECD’s fifth regional center is quite an accurate and proper choice. Istanbul has always been a lively metropolis where history, civilizations, culture, nature, trade and people meet,” she said.

‘Opening regional center sends strong message’

For his part, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said he is proud to open this new hub for multilateral cooperation, looking forward to making use of its potential to advance common solutions to common challenges.

“In these times of nationalism, isolationism and protectionism, opening a regional center sends a strong message,” he said, adding that the pandemic has been a reminder that no country can face a global threat alone.

“International cooperation is beneficial to all of us, it is vital. If we truly wish to build back better,” he said, underlining the OECD’s focus on multilateralism.

“This is in its DNA entirely committed to promoting responsible effective inclusive, sustainable outcomes of international cooperation.”

While working with stakeholders from across the world, the center is to play a pivotal role in the continued pursuit of these goals, he stressed.

“We hope it will be an anchor for best practices to promote inclusive and sustainable growth.”

Based in Paris, the OECD has four regional centers in Berlin, Mexico, Tokyo, and Washington. The Istanbul office will be the fifth regional center of the organization.

Anadolu Agency