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Erdoğan slams business group for criticizing Sweden and Finland policy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed comments from a leading business group questioning his government’s handling of NATO membership bids from Finland and Sweden.

Erdoğan spoke in a televised speech on Wednesday after Turkish Business and Industrialists Association (TÜSİAD) chairman Orhan Turan also issued stern warnings about the state of the country’s economy. Another senior member of the group urged the government to seek advice from economic affairs experts.

“We will not change our position on Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO candidacies until they take concrete steps,” Erdoğan said. “Hey, you new head of TÜSİAD! You can’t give us a lesson in foreign policy… Unless they (TÜSİAD) change their mind, they won’t be allowed to maintain contact with the government .

Turan said in a speech in Istanbul earlier in the day that Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership applications could be resolved through negotiations and mutual understanding in accordance with the spirit of the alliance.

“Of course, Turkey has the right to demand that friendly and allied countries pay more attention to the sensitivities of a country that has suffered greatly from terrorism,” he said. “However, the method we adopt while protecting our interests where we are right must be formulated in a way that makes it easier for us to achieve the goal.”

Erdoğan said he would not approve of countries joining until they drop their support for terrorism.

“Why are we taking a stand against Sweden and Finland? Are we going to open our doors to them while terrorist organizations roam freely in their streets? “, did he declare. “TÜSIAD can be on their side, we will take revenge for the blood of our martyrs. Terrorist organizations march through the streets of Germany. If TÜSİAD continues like this, our doors will remain closed to the band.

Erdoğan, who says Sweden and Finland support and harbor members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and an affiliate in Syria, said the business group was pursuing foreign affairs policies advised by the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

The PKK, which seeks autonomy for the country’s 12 million Kurds, has waged a four-decade war with the Turkish military at the cost of around 40,000 mostly Kurdish lives. It is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. Sweden and Finland deny supporting the group.

Tuncay Özilhan, head of Anadolu Group and chairman of TÜSİAD High Advisory Council, said at the same meeting with Turan that the government should listen to experts to get the economy back on track after soaring inflation and the fall of the read.

“In order to put the economy on a stable and sustainable path, it is necessary to listen to the opinions of experts, technicians and academics,” Özilhan said, local media, including Gazete Duvar, reported.

Inflation in Turkey soared to 73.5%, the fastest among emerging markets and developed economies, after Erdoğan ordered the central bank to cut interest rates despite accelerating rate hikes. price. Political intervention at the end of last year caused a currency crisis. The lira lost 44% of its value in 2021 and has fallen more than 20% this year.

Inflation is spiraling out of control and the priority should now be to prevent and reduce it, Özilhan said. “The rate of increase in inflation is at a level that we have never seen before,” he said. “This will further increase income inequality.”

Erdoğan, who calls himself an economist, has sought to dictate economic policy in Turkey, matching his approach to other areas of the country’s social affairs and politics since he gained sweeping new presidential powers in 2018. He replaced three central bank governors. in three years by presidential decrees overnight, with almost all the members of its monetary policy committee.

Last week, Erdoğan said Turkey would cut interest rates, not raise them. Her comments caused more losses to read her. The country has set aside prescriptions from “imperialist financial institutions” that make the rich richer and the poor poorer by raising interest rates, he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Economists and strategists following Turkey have also expressed dismay and concern about the direction of the economy. Earlier this week, Tim Ash, senior emerging markets strategist at BlueBay Asset Management in London, said Erdoğan’s “crazy policies” meant the lira had remained in a “constant state of crisis for the past few years”. Turkey also suffered a currency crisis in 2018.

The country’s risk premium is also increasing due to global developments and the economic policies Turkey is implementing, Özilhan said. Turkey’s credit default swaps, which investors use to insure against a country’s possible sovereign default, hit a 19-year high on Tuesday.

Interventions in the free functioning of the market further disrupt the country’s economy, he said. Investments don’t just happen with a low interest rate policy, he added.

Turan said the government’s economic policies were inconsistent with global developments and failed to produce the desired results.

“While the world is raising interest rates to fight inflation, we are following the opposite policy,” he said. “The increasing level of risk is unsustainable. We need to go back to traditional policies… Our revenues are melting with the policies followed.”

The lira was trading low at 17.28 to the dollar on Wednesday. It was trading at 3.78 to the dollar at the start of 2018.