Turkish economy: Boat is leaking but who’ll tell Erdoğan?
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has advised people traveling abroad by car to “fill up the tank” as if it were something that a country should be proud of. Apparently, one of his advisors had told him to add this to his speech to highlight the low taxes on gas in Turkey. But actually, this is not because of the low taxes but the sharp decline in the value of the Turkish Lira. Many things too expensive for the Turkish people are for peanuts for Europeans, including Turks who live there.
The Turkish economy was heading for new records, said a tired-looking Erdoğan said in a long speech after a cabinet meeting on July 6. Maybe because of a pink picture drawn by the ministers and his advisers, the president heralded an 8.45 percent increase for civil servants and pensioners. In the meantime, TÜİK, the state’s statistics institute, announced the annual inflation rate at 17.53 percent. This angered even Memur-Sen, a civil servants’ trade union founded years ago with a political view in line with Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Ali Yalçın, the head of the union protested the salary increase below expectations in street protests throughout the country, also calling for the “right to strike” for the civil servants. Sözcü newspaper said 17.53 percent inflation data did not show the real increase in prices, giving detailed examples. The price of standard bread, which is the basis of food expenditures of the low-income families, increased by 22 percent, milk rose by 25 percent, tomatoes by 27 percent, cheese by 40 percent, eggs by 44 percent, margarine by 50 percent, and sunflower oil by 57 percent. The rise in consumer natural gas price reached 20 percent even in the first six months of 2021.
Summer Palace debate amid reactions to inflation
Economy journalist Uğur Gürses said on July 3, two days before TÜİK announced the relatively high but unconvincingly low inflation rate, that two vice presidents at the statistics office were dismissed and three vice presidents were appointed to replace them to be responsible for national accounts, inflation and employment figures. But the dire strait is obvious despite the latest intervention on the TÜİK cadre.
Those who tell Erdoğan that the export figures will explode avoid mentioning that the public does not benefit from the export income and the inequalities are deepening.
Again, on July 5, just as the public anger to high inflation and low salary rise was climbing, images of the Presidential State Guest House, which was built by Erdoğan in the Aegean resort town of Marmaris emerged, triggering a name for itself: The Summer Palace. Şefik Birkiye, also known as the architect of the Presidential Palace in Ankara and the Taksim Mosque, put the images on his company’s website. The palace on 92 acres of land in Marmaris’s Okluk Bay was contracted to Rönesans İnşaat, which had also built the presidential palace in Ankara, for 640 million liras but in 2018; which was roughly about $100 million at that time. This added to a Winter Palace built in the eastern province of Bitlis on the shores of Lake Van. We do not count the Huber Mansion in Tarabya, which is the Presidential office in Istanbul – it was built before the Erodğan ruling started.
Or does Erdoğan really think that the Turkish people are happy with these palaces because their leader is living well, or the reputation is of the country is improving?
So what do they tell Erdoğan?
So what do Erdoğan’s advisors, who are not satisfied with their wages and keep making fortunes in private businesses, tell the president? I raise this question, avoiding a recently popular hypocrisy that only criticizes the close circle of Erdoğan. The president should be so happy with this group that he reads from the prompter everything they put in front of him, without questioning.
One of these wise men had recently told Erdogan that the Covid-19 vaccination in Europe was paid. In a speech in parliament, Erdoğan named England among western countries that ask for money for vaccine jabs. The U.K. denied the claim, news reports confirmed the U.K., but Erdoğan kept repeating the claim. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca should have warned Erdoğan so that he said after the July 5 meeting that Covid-19 vaccine was for free in Turkey just like any other country.
Those who say, “They make Erdoğan make mistakes,” should think again. A leader wouldn’t keep the staff that made him make so many mistakes if these mistakes didn’t work for him. Let’s not go further, fugitive mob leader Sedat Peker spilled so much dirty laundry in 9 videos before he was silenced, bringing forth serious accusations about ministers and state officials? What was done about it? The government kept trying to keep quiet and sweep it under the carpet…
Really, will someone tell Erdoğan that the ship is taking in water? Maybe it is not rational to expect this from the advisors or ministers since this would contradict their interests, but wouldn’t someone from his family tell him about the real situation?
An important note from the Foreign Ministry
inflatiIn my article on July 5, I questioned whether it was pro-government SETA that inspired the U.S. State Department report that accused Turkey of supporting the Syria National Army (SNA) that enrolls “child soldiers.”
A SETA report on the SNA was first published but soon withdrawn after calculations on the figures presented led to a logical outcome that the Syrian group that Turkey has supported uses underaged fighters.
A reaction by the Foreign Ministry to the U.S. report also accused the U.S. of using information from “some unreliable NGOs.” I also raised the question of whether they were implying SETA or not, directing both questions to the ministry.
They responded that the NGOs that they implied did not include SETA.
The ministry said in its response that their initial written statement was mainly against the allegations in the U.S. report regarding some practices at some camps for the Syrians that were not based to concrete information and were made in a vogue language with references to some NGOs.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry is right in emphasizing the double standards and hypocrisy of the U.S., which corporates with the YPG and the YPJ, the Syrian branches of the outlawed PKK since the United Nations reports on the matter show that these grıoups use children in armed conflict.
But these wrongdoings should not be addressed by other mistakes.