Turks unconvinced by Erdoğan’s coronavirus measures – Haaretz

Many Turks distrust the Turkish government’s measures to tackle the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, said an analyst writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Saturday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has promised that if citizens comply with quarantine orders and maintain personal hygiene, the outbreak can be over within three weeks.

But a recent survey in Turkey showed that only 45 percent of respondents trust what the government says or does, and some Turks have accused the government of hiding the exact number of those infected with the coronavirus, said columnist Zvi Bar'el. 

The main threat facing Turkey is to the economy and the massive losses that will be incurred by manufacturers and service providers, especially in tourism, said Bar'el.

“We’ve stopped coming into the office and selling tickets. There’s no one to sell to and nowhere to fly,” a travel agent from Istanbul told Haaretz. “We’re now waiting for the implementation of the aid program Erdoğan announced, but no one knows how we’ll get the money. If it goes on like this, we’ll all go bankrupt.”

Erdoğan announced a 100-billion-lira ($15.4 billion) package of measures on Wednesday to support Turkey’s economy during the pandemic.

But a member of the trade bureau, who spoke to Haarezt on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisals, said that it was “an insignificant sum for a market as big as the Turkish market.” 

The governor of Turkey’s central bank said that Turkey has enough reserves to cope during the coronavirus. 

But estimates by international funding agencies say that, while Turkey had reserves of $35 billion in December, it spent many billions in early 2020 an attempt to uphold the value of the Turkish lira, which plummeted this week to its 2018 level, said Bar'el.

Turkey also faces the threat of the coronavirus spreading through the refugee population, which is more vulnerable to the disease and may find it harder to access medical care.

A human rights activist from Bozagici University told Haaretz that they find themselves in a paradoxical situation.

“We now have to believe that what Erdoğan is doing is the correct move, and hope that he succeeds in his policy of combating the coronavirus. He is the only one who can deal with the European states, and maybe even solve the refugee crisis,” he said.

“But this is the same Erdoğan who is persecuting us, who fired hundreds of my colleagues, and who is trampling human rights,” he added. “I loathe him, but it’s hard for me to suggest someone else who can, at this point, handle this crisis more effectively. We’re lucky there are no elections now, he could get himself appointed king or emperor if he wanted to.”