Uğur Gürses

Economy writer

A one-sentence decree by President Tayyip Erdoğan on May 17 was followed by an appointment to the Central Bank Board, with personal links to Erdoğan’s election ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and its leader Devlet Bahçeli.

The Presidential Decree No. 62, which was signed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan on May 16 and published in the Official Gazette on Sunday, May 17, consisted of a single sentence. The decree stipulated that, those who are appointed to the Bank Council of the Central Bank could keep their teaching posts in the universities, providing that they are public universities.
Whereas, in the Central Bank Law, the duties of the members elected to the Council, which is considered as the “Board of Directors” of the Bank, “cannot be combined with any official, private or private duties outside the Bank” unless it is based on a special law or Presidential Decree. Existing members could not continue at the university they were working at as soon as they were appointed.
This was a preparation for the Central Bank General Assembly to be held on Monday, May 18.
It was a clear decree that there was a preparation for the appointment of a certain person. But for whom was it made?

Direct delivery to the address?

It was predicted the next day for whom the decree was signed in backstage. The situation was understood when the names of the members appointed to the Board of Directors at the General Assembly of the Bank on May 18 were determined.
Ömer Duman, an existing member of the Board of Directors, whose term of office expired, was reassigned, he could not be that person: he was not working in a university when he was appointed the first time. Another existing member Dr. Nurullah Genç’s term of office was renewed for 3 years in 2018, and that was not that person either. Professor at the University of Marmara, School of Banking and Insurance, Department of Banking. Dr. Başak Tanınmış Yücememis was appointed for 3 years in May 2019. But Yücememis had left the post after the appointment. The Presidential Decree couldn’t be issued for the members of the existing Board, as there was no special need to work at the university and to work at the Central Bank Board in the past year.
On May 18, a new member was appointed to the Central Bank Assembly. This new member is a professor from the Faculty of Economics at Istanbul University. Dr. Elif Haykır Hobikoğlu. She teaches “innovation economics” courses at the Faculty of Economics and also has an administrative duty. She is also the Director of the “Women’s Studies Application and Research Center” reporting to the Rector of the Istanbul University.

Google reveals the wedding witness

Journalists and economists immediately started to search through Google and share Dr. Hobikoğlu’s background.
When the name of Hobikoğlu was questioned, a news coming from 20 years ago was interesting.
Hobikoğlu had married in 2000 and one of the couple’s witnesses was Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and a deputy prime minister of the time in the triparty coalition. We learn from that piece of news that Elif Haykır’s father is an MHP MP, Mustafa Haykır.
There are now two speculations in the political and economy backstage. According to the first one is Dr. Hobikoğlu has been appointed to the Central Bank position from a presumed “Bahçeli quota”. That means, Bahçeli might have asked President Erdogan for that appointment, to have a peg in the Central Bank, since he and Erdogan are two founders of the “Public Alliance” for elections and without Bahçeli’s support Erdogan couldn’t get elected. The second speculation is that Erdogan has lit a green light for the appointment as a “goodwill gesture” in return to Bahçeli’s support.
In any case, it seems that Dr. Hobikoğlu wanted to keep her academic post together with the Central Bank position and there was no alternative for that position other than her. It seems that the Presidential decree made that possible.

Following Bahçeli-Albayrak compliments

As we know, while the dollar rate rose sharply and the TL depreciated in the first days of May, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli had targeted the social-democratic opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokespersons and gave his clear support to the Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak, who is also the son-in-law of President Erdogan. The date was May 9. In the early hours of the same day, MHP Deputy Chairman Semih Yalçın re-twitted the “MHP to the power” tweet that Bahçeli broadcasted in 2011 when he was performing hard opposition to Erdogan. That had created shock waves in the political backstage for a few hours until the soothing statement of Bahçeli was made. Bahçeli said, “They attack to Mr. Albayrak, which we find very successful. One has to have a bit of manners and a bit of virtue. Those stooges of Kemal Derviş will not be able to deceive the Turkish nation anymore to go to the IMF because of their claim that the economy is badly managed. Turkey has been resisting the storm with all its capabilities” de said. Bahçeli’s reference to Derviş, a World Bank economist who was invited to Turkey to cut a stand-by deal with the IMF to move out of a major financial crisis, ironically at a time when Bahçeli was the deputy prime minister of the triparty coalition.
In return, Minister Albayrak called Bahçeli and thanked: “The support he gave to our struggle is indescribable for us”.
As a result, a special appointment was made. The appointment is not a fair one particularly for Dr. Hobikoğlu in the first place.
Instead of her name was spoken with her academic subjects such as innovation economics, the Women’s Studies Application and Research Center, and subjects such as “neuroeconomic behaviors in gender equality” she is giving lectures on, she is now subject to political speculations. But what matters more for political parties in the highly polarized atmosphere of Turkey, is the election anxiety, not professional talents.