Turkey leaving pandemic behind ‘with least amount of trouble’ - Erdoğan

Turkey has managed to avoid “health crises or social collapse” in the almost-year-long battle against the coronavirus pandemic, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday.

“We have managed to leave behind with the least amount of trouble a process that caused heartbreaking scenes in even the most prosperous of countries,” Erdoğan said during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Ankara.

The world’s most developed countries “have trouble with the vaccine, they can’t find any vaccines” whereas Turkey has “now managed to purchase vaccines with the steps we have taken and the payment we have made,” the president said, announcing that 50 million doses of the China-developed CoronaVac are scheduled to arrive in Turkey, stopping short of providing a time frame.

Turkey will be able to vaccinate some 30 percent of its 82 million citizens with the current order of vaccines. Starting in January, Turkey has administered 1.4 million doses to date.

The Turkish economy also suffered less, with 46 billion liras ($6.25 billion) of social protection shield payments distributed by the state and other state aid programs “have kept our country standing,” Erdoğan said.

The government has allocated more than 81 billion liras ($11 billion) to social aid programmes in the 2021 budget, said the president.

The Turkish Lira lost 24 percent of its value against the dollar in 2020, making it the second most depreciated global currency. The depreciation was lessened when the lira recovered 15 percent at the end of the year, following a wave of optimism for the economy after Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak resigned from his post as finance minister in November.

By the end of September, Turkey’s outstanding foreign debt made up 59.1 percent of the per capita income at $435.1 billion.