Presidential spox denies claims of Turkey seeking IMF aid after elections

Turkey does not have a relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), nor will it apply to the fund following the March 31 local elections, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Monday.

"We are hearing of certain narratives that Turkey will turn to the IMF after the elections. Turkey’s cooperation with the IMF, whether before or after the elections, is out of question,’’ Haber Türk quoted Kalın as saying during a speech following a cabinet meeting.

Kalın’s statements follow those of the country’s the Treasury and Finance Ministry, which on Feb. 1 slammed talk of a possible new loan programme with the IMF as a “perception operation,” amid claims that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) may apply to the fund after nationwide local elections on March 31.

Financial analysts have stressed that Turkey may need funding from the IMF to help bolster economic growth and fund the private sector following the 2018 currency crisis which saw the lira lose a third of its value.

Kalın also spoke on the creation of a buffer zone in Syria’s north.

Terrorist groups such as the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) cannot be harboured in the envisaged zone, Kalın said, adding "We have asked them [the U.S.] what kind of relationship they are in [with Kurdish militants] now that ISIS has been removed from the region; they were not able to answer our question."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in December announced that Ankara was preparing to launch a third military operation against the YPG in the northern Syrian region of Manbij, unless Washington made the militants leave the area.

Turkey has said the operation would be delayed following the announcement of U.S. withdrawal from the region by Donald Trump on Dec. 19

Ankara and Washington have since agreed the creation of a buffer zone, designed to push Kurdish fighters away from the Turkish-Syrian border, amid Turkey's concerns regarding the the formation of a Kurdish entity on its border.

The presidential spokesperson also touched on Erdoğan’s statement on Sunday during a live interview on state-run TRT television where he said Ankara maintains "low-level" contacts with the Syrian regime. 

Kalın noted that Turkish intelligences communicates with certain intelligence constituents in Damascus, but ‘’this does not translate to the recognition’’ of the Syrian government.