ERDOGAN’S SINKING SHIP
Talk of Donald Trump’s possible impeachment has pushed his sanctions against NATO ally Turkey off the front pages. But the US leader’s intemperate reaction to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s continued detention of US citizen Pastor Andrew Brunson on espionage charges is contributing to severe economic hardship in Turkey. And as our correspondent – living anonymously in Hastings – says, the situation could push his country further away from the West and into the arms of Iran, Russia and China.
Almost everyday, the most amazing, unbelievable totally batshit crazy events are happening in Turkey, yet all the talk throughout the country is about the price of the US dollar. This year alone, the Turkish lira has lost nearly 50% of its value. There is an undeniable crisis looming. Turkey’s debt in the private and state sectors combined reached around $460 billion. Every month, the country needs between 4 and 5 billion dollars in order to service the debt.
The current crisis was no surprise to any sane economist in Turkey, but the government played it down in order to keep its ideologically-important grandiose projects. On top of everything, the Brunson affair burns all bridges between US and Turkey. These developments have fuelled the Turkish lira’s losing streak. Two thirds of foreign debt belongs to private banks in Turkey, so if there’s no solution we might see the total collapse of this sector. Nobody knows the state of government banks because there is no longer any accountability.
On the street, things are getting worse day by day; high inflation, high unemployment and the collapse of small businesses. Talk of capital control is denied by government sources yet people are already withdrawing money and emptying their accounts against possible restrictions. Because of that, the all-powerful leader is playing the cards of religion and highly-charged nationalism. He might come out of this crisis even stronger, but with a bankrupted country and millions of angry people. Whatever happens, he will try to save his position even at the expense of the whole economy. If a full-blown crisis happens, Turkey will turn its face to China and Russia because ‘Emperor’ Erdoğan needs to keep his throne intact. The future of the country looks like the Turkish futures on the financial market screens: mostly red.
This is the story of one Turkish family
Both parents work as freelance designers. Their child has just finished primary school
“In the last six months we really started to feel the heat. There is almost no work available. From transport to rent, from food to school dress, every single item has become more expensive, yet the money we earn is reducing. On top of that there are considerably fewer job offers or opportunities now than a year ago. On the other hand, everybody agrees that the immediate future is likely to be much much worse. That is common talk among all the people we know. Families who rent, who have mortgages or any kind of debt are suffering the most. The best jobs are government jobs but those are only available to members of the governing party or specific religious casts. A very long, hard winter awaits us.”
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