Turkish economy soaring, says Erdoğan

Turkey’s economy stands strong, and will get stronger in the future, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters after Friday prayers at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia.

“Nobody should try to trick our people,” Erdoğan said. “We are stronger than yesterday, we will be stronger tomorrow.”

Erdoğan compared figures from 2002, when his Justice and Development Party (AKP) first came to power, and 2019, and said under his governments Turkey’s gross domestic product rose to $754 billion from $236 billion.

According to the president, 91,000 cars were sold in Turkey in 2002, compared to 2016’s 756,000.

“When we look at sales of refrigerators, it was 1,088,000 in 2002. By 2017 this number rose to 3,107,000, and 2,486,000 in 2019,” Erdoğan said. “This shows something. Turkey is soaring. But there are some who don’t want to see.”

The fluctuations in the value of the dollar “are temporary, these happen all the time,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey’s Central Bank dollar reserves are at $105 billion, increasing from $27.5 billion when AKP came to power, the president said.

The country’s gross reserves fell from $105 billion to just over $90 billion in July, according to a Bloomberg report. The Central Bank has depleted its reserves in an effort to protect the lira’s value in recent months, but the lira has fallen as low as 7.3209 per dollar on Friday as euro rose to above 8.5 liras.

The pro-government HaberTürk was reporting on the decline in Central Bank reserves as Erdoğan spoke, as captured by a Twitter user.

Meanwhile, left-wing daily BirGün reported after Erdoğan’s speech that Turkey’s foreign currency reserves had dwindled to $46.67 billion, citing figures announced by the Central Bank. According to data BirGün compiled, the reserve has not been as high as $105 billion since early 2015.

Erdoğan spoke about the speculations over the dollar, and said, “Some said by new year’s it would trade at 10 liras, but we have come to where we are now. This will settle down as well.”

The lira will settle after the coronavirus crisis is over, the president said. “And on the other hand of course the developments in Beirut are out there.”

Erdoğan said he spoke with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and that the two countries’ intelligence services had also been in contact. Turkey has sent humanitarian, medical and military aid to Lebanon in the aftermath of the Beirut explosions, and will support the country in its efforts to rebuild Beirut’s ports.

Following Erdoğan’s speech, Turkey’s Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said there were forces that wanted to hinder Turkey’s rise “with the dirty tricks of the barons of global exploitation order.”

“It is well known who organized the attacks targeting our economy directly over exchange rates in recent times,” Altun said. “Turkey has posed an example for the whole world with its successful systems of healthcare and economy. I trust in Turkey.”

Turkey has defended its (foreign policy) theses “in order for the Mediterranean to become a land of peace,” which “has voided the tricks by bloodsuckers who ran the exploitation ring for years,” the communications director continued.

Greece has not kept its promises to Turkey regarding territorial waters and rights to natural resources in the Mediterranean, according to Erdoğan.

“(German Chancellor Angela Merkel) made me a request, said it would make her job easier if we would stop drilling in a certain area,” Erdoğan said. “I told her she would see that (Greece) would not keep its word. And that is what ended up happening.”

Turkey and Greece have agreed to find a common solution to the ongoing dispute between the two neighbours by the end of August, with Germany playing a pivotal role.

Turkey is restarting its efforts to explore hydrocarbons, Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan called the recent deal between an American oil company and the Kurdish-majority Autonomous Administration of Northeastern Syria (AANS) a “calamity,” and said he warned U.S. President Donald Trump that “transferring resources to terrorist organisations could lead to serious trouble in our region.”

Erdoğan accused Trump of “empowering terrorists,” referring to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey considers a terrorist organisation over its alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

“Thinking about where the financial resources of this terrorist organisation comes from, there it is,” Erdoğan said. The Turkish president had accused the AANS of seizing Syria’s natural resources earlier in the week.

“There has been no positive development on this matter to date,” he said. “We will be following up. I do believe this will settle down eventually.”