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Erdoğan’s new journey in old direction

Sunday 23 July 2023, by Metin Feyyaz

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Just after his difficult “triumph” at Presidential elections, Erdoğan’s cabinet has signaled slight changes on some policy matters. The new Finance Minister has come back from London, leaving behind his work at Merrill Lynch global investment management company and has increased interest rates. Neoliberals in Turkey had been demanding an increase in rates to attract foreign capital from global financial institutions but the low interest rate policy has been strongly defended by Erdoğan before the elections.

Erdoğan’s second major policy change happened in relation to his stance against Sweden’s accession to NATO. Just a few days ago Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Chief of Intelligence Service Hakan Fidan, was saying that “terrorist organizations” are fr acting freely in Sweden and Erdoğan’s de-facto coalition partner far-right MHP’s leader was telling that they disapprove Sweden’s accession to NATO, Erdoğan had a swift policy change in just a few days.

Actually this shouldn’t be a surprise for those who are following Turkey’s foreign policy for a while. While Turkish capitalism is going through multiple and interconnected crisis, Erdoğan has been trying to navigate his way through these interconnected crisis by using every means possible. And global geopolitical disorder has helped him a lot in these times of crisis, he has sharpened his ability to use world events a bargaining chip by using Turkey’s geopolitical position. Turkey’s stance on Sweden’s accession to NATO was actually a life jacket for Erdoğan so that he could negotiate further concessions. It is important to remember Sweden didn’t hesitate to ignore basic human rights by expelling some of the refugees to Turkey to be imprisoned.

While a full-born currency crisis is accumulating and the Turkish Lira is loosing value strongly, one can say that Turkish capitalism didn’t have much chance other than turning its face towards to West again and please international capital. Still we don’t exactly know the content of the Sweden-Turkey deal but recently American journalist Seymour Hersh claimed that US President Biden promised an IMF loan of 11-13 billion dollars in exchange for Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s NATO membership.

Turkey’s bid for EU membership has also become discussion topic during these discussions, it was declared that “Sweden will actively support Turkey’s efforts to update the Turkey-EU Customs Union and revitalize the EU membership process, including visa liberalisation.” Modernization of Customs Union agreement between EU and Turkey, has been a beloved subject for both European and Turkish capitalists while supply chains are moving closer to company headquarters, Turkey is a perfect choice for those who are looking for cheap, unorganized, well trained work-force.

Around a year ago, during discussions on Sweden’s NATO accession, organization of big capitalists in Turkey, TÜSİAD, has warned the government in a declaration they made by telling that “now supply chains are moving towards countries which share same “values” and government has to go back to its Western alliances in order to benefit from these changes in global supply chains.”

At that time, Erdoğan responded to this declaration with fierce anger. He apparently didn’t want to show his negotiating hand so early. Now capitalists both in Turkey and in Western alliance are happy to bringing in their old friend back to club; of course at the expense of human rights.


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