Turkey’s economy will struggle to recover quickly from pandemic - analyst

Turkey's economy is unlikely to recover soon after COVID-19 pandemic since the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's policies are still causing strain on the already tattered economy, said analyst Burak Bekdil on Monday.

"The post-coronavirus period could be payback time for Erdoğan’s policy miscalculations and blind ideology calculus," Bekdil said in an article he penned for the Algemeiner. 

The most significant risk to Turkey’s economy is that the United States will press sanctions in response to its purchase of Russian S-400 air defence systems, Bekdil said. 

Washington has threatened Ankara with sanctions and suspended Turkey from the programme to build and operate the latest F-35 jets after Turkey received the S-400s last July. The United States says the S-400 systems are incompatible with NATO systems and threaten the stealth capabilities of the new fighter jets.

Turkey’s plans to activate the Russian S-400 missile defence systems have been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Bekdil said the moment of truth will eventually come and the United States has no intention to go back on its decision to sanction Turkey if they are switched on.

If the Russian missile systems are brought online, this could also trigger punishing sanctions on state lender Halkbank, which is accused of involvement in a massive scheme to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran, he said.

"A multi-billion dollar fine on Halkbank could cripple Erdoğan’s post-corona economic recovery plans," he said.

Meanwhile, Turkey faces the risk of possible Russian sanctions should it step back from using S-400s, the analyst said. During a previous diplomatic spat when Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet in 2015, Russia pressed sanctions on Turkey that hit key sectors including tourism and food exports.

"Ironically, Erdoğan’s only option to avoid U.S. sanctions — keeping the S-400 system unopened — could expose Turkey to possible Russian sanctions," Bekdil said.