The assault on Turkey’s economy must be viewed as an example of how the senseless use of economic pressure as a political weapon poses serious global risks, the Turkish treasury and finance minister has said.
“By acting together with Turkey now, other countries can also help it create a common strategy to avoid artificial crises in the future,” Berat Albayrak wrote in an article titled ‘America Can’t Be Trusted to Run the Global Economy’ for the American news magazine Foreign Policy published on Sept. 7.
After U.S. President Donald Trump’s unprovoked attack on Turkey, Albayrak said, the world must protect itself from Washington’s economic power.
"This August, Turkey’s economy became the main topic in global news coverage. The reason was a systematic attack on the Turkish economy by the biggest player in the global economic system, the United States. It was one of the most disappointing moments in the history of the alliance between Turkey and America," Albayrak said, accusing the Trump administration of overtly attacking the economy of a fellow NATO member through sanctions and tariffs.
Albayrak underlined that while the scale of the attack resulted in exchange rate fluctuations, the incident ultimately demonstrated the strong fundamentals of the Turkish economy.
"In the face of all the negative propaganda, and the attacks on its financial system, the Turkish economy has demonstrated its strength. It is important to reiterate that no economic indicators or macroeconomic data can account for the devaluation of the Turkish lira over the past month. Turkey’s financial structure and banking system have not experienced any fundamental changes during this time," he said.
- Turkish Central Bank’s independence
Albayrak pointed to Turkey's commitment to create an investor-friendly environment in an effort to take steps to address several economic weaknesses to prevent potential future vulnerabilities.
He said the Turkish Central Bank’s independence, effectiveness and leading role in monetary policy would remain a priority for the government as it has been for the last 16 years.
Albayrak said contrary to what some suggested, "it is not on our agenda to go to the International Monetary Fund".
"Turkey will continue to secure foreign currency reserves from international markets as it has until now. Our goal is to ensure that Turkey continues to attract foreign direct investment and become a center for innovation and research and development for the global economy," he added.
Albayrak said the U.S. attack on the Turkish economy also increased Turkey’s determination to strengthen its economy through structural reforms, new trade partnerships and the attraction of foreign investments and to take steps to rebalance the structure of the international economy so that powerful countries like the U.S. no longer would have the power to unilaterally disrupt the economic life of others.
Underlining the fact that Turkey never implemented rules that run counter to market principles, Albayrak said: "No crisis or financial assault can weaken Turkey’s commitment to those principles."
- 'Turkey not only country targeted by U.S.'
Albayrak pointed out that Turkey was not the only country that the U.S. recently targeted with sanctions under political pretexts.
"The single-handed exercise of tariffs by the United States against its trade partners in Europe, Russia and China proved that international trade, cooperation and stability should be secured by a stronger alliance among nations around the world and may necessitate taking countersteps to prevent catastrophic damage to the global financial system and international trade."
Albayrak said the world faces incredibly complex challenges and Washington’s economic threats were a significant subset of those challenges.
"Unilateral sanctions, incitement of trade wars and haphazard use of economic weapons could potentially trigger another global economic crisis. At this critical juncture, developed and developing economies around the world need to promote strong and institutionalized cooperation to handle potential crises and financial attacks.
- 'Cooperation, solidarity between Turkey, EU revived'
Albayrak said the Turkish government has been pleased to see promising new opportunities for the future of the international economy amid this artificial crisis created by the United States.
"Our European friends, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, have made statements that clearly indicate they understand that Washington’s approach was dangerous and mistaken. The spirit of cooperation and solidarity between Turkey and the European Union has thus been revived, having proved critical for the political and economic well-being of both sides," he added.
Albayrak highlighted that Turkey has been at the forefront of dealing with significant threats against Western countries for more than six decades.
"In recent years, this has included the fight against terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State.
"During this period, Turkey has become a hope for millions of refugees running away from the brutal regime in Syria and the target of terrorist organizations that want to expand the war in that country to the West," Albayrak said, adding that Turkey became an island of stability in one of the most unstable regions of the world.
In adopting sanctions against Turkey, the Trump administration invoked the flimsy pretext of an ongoing legal case involving a U.S. citizen with strong links to terrorist activities targeting Turkey’s peace and stability. The effects of the U.S. decision were nevertheless dramatic, with the Turkish economy experiencing immediate fluctuations.
Referring to Andrew Craig Brunson, a U.S. pastor who is under house arrest in Turkey over terrorism charges, Albayrak said, "Washington’s brazen use of economic weapons served as a wakeup call for many countries and investors around the world. It was recognized as risky not only for the future of the alliance between Turkey and the United States but also for global markets."
By Gulbin Yildirim in Washington