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Apr 13 2019

Turkish media accuses foreign outlets of smear campaign over Albayrak’s performance

Turkey’s pro-government newspaper Sabah on Friday said that foreign media outlets like Reuters, Bloomberg, and Financial Times had launched a smear campaign against Turkish economy and the Minister of Finance and Treasury, Berat Albayrak. 

Sabah said that, right after local polls on March 31, the foreign media had started a campaign that might trigger an exchange rate crisis, as it said those outlets had done last year when Turkish lira hit record lows in August due to a diplomatic row between Turkey and the United States.

Albayrak this week disclosed a new economic programme, which the Turkish government pledged to deliver ahead of local elections, promising to inject 28 billion lira ($4.9 billion) of fresh capital into the country’s state-owned banks. The minister then travelled to Washington for meetings with investors, as well as with the officials of the international economic institutions. 

The Financial Times said on Friday that in a meeting hosted by JPMorgan, the U.S. investment bank that two weeks ago became the subject of two investigations by Turkish regulators, many of those present complained that Albayrak was unable to provide enough detail to reassure investors over promises of fiscal discipline. 

Another investor, who was among a small number of people who held additional private meetings with Albayrak, told the Financial Times that the encounter was “disastrous” and described it as one of the worst performances from a finance minister he had ever seen.

The upbeat view of Albayrak and Turkish Central Bank Governor Murat Cetinkaya about Turkey’s outlook failed to resonate with investors in Washington, Reuters reported, citing sources who asked to remain anonymous.

“I don’t think he persuaded anybody, it did not go well,” Reuters quoted an investor, who attended the event hosted by JPMorgan, as saying. 

Turkish daily said that in addition to those reports, the comments on the ongoing tensions with the United States over Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems and on the economic effects of a possible rerun of local elections in Istanbul, where the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) faced a defeat on March 31, also aimed to corner Turkey via economic attacks. 

Sabah said that contrary to the critical coverage of foreign media, Albayrak’s economic programme that included steps to be taken for fiscal discipline and the restructuring of the banking sector, had been welcomed by investors.