Turkish health minister hits back at U.S. envoy over healthcare debts

The remarks made by U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield this week on Turkey’s debts to American pharmaceutical companies were “extremely unfortunate”, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Friday.

Speaking to an online meeting of Turkish and American business leaders on Tuesday, Satterfield said Turkey owed around $2.3 billion in medical expenses to international firms, a figure that had risen tenfold in a year.

Assurances from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak that the debt would be paid had not yet been met, he said, raising the possibility of American firms pulling their products from Turkey.

But Koca rejected the ambassador’s comments, saying they reminded him of the approach taken by colonial countries, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

A payment plan had already been put in place, and the issue resolved, the minister told reporters.

“Turkey is not the old Turkey,” he said.