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    Of Turks and Americans

    Güven Sak, PhD16 June 2019 - Okunma Sayısı: 495

    Winston Churchill once said that “you can count on the Americans to do the right thing,” then he added, I presume with a smile, “after they have exhausted all other possibilities.” It isn’t any different for the Turks, I may add.

    Let’s look at the economy. The Turkish economy is in need of a viable program. Not a program to ease the pain Turks are feeling these days, but to one that attacks the underlying problem. Yet with continuing election cycles, Turkey is still exhausting all the other possibilities before doing the right thing. We know what’s needed, and you can count on us to do the right thing eventually - we were in dire straits in 1980, and in 2001 after that. Both times, it took us a while to go through the wrong courses of action before we got to the right one. I don’t see why this time should be any different.

    The Turkish economy is in a severe rebalancing act, as you may know. The current account deficit dropped sharply to a third of what it was in in the previous year. Car sales dropped 53 percent between May 2018 and May 2019. On the one hand, that actually looks healthy. On the other, it shows us that there is no growth. Already we are at a point where the 2.3 percent growth forecast of the New Economy Program for 2019 announced last September is not viable. We urgently need a reality check.

    Why? Turks at the moment just prefer to wait. Only last week, Turkish citizens increased their dollar holdings by 2.75 billion dollars. That’s the only way they know how to secure their money. They have battened down the hatches and are waiting for the administration to steer them through the storm. Yet the administration is busy with elections. All eyes are on Turkey, waiting for it to do the right thing, and the government is waiting for the election cycle to pass.

    While everybody is wondering what Turkey will do, Turks wonder whether Churchill was right about the Americans. The titan is at Turkey’s doorstep in Syria, in a process of exhausting all the other possibilities. So far, the sudden shifts in American policy south of our border has only made Turkey more open to new threats.

    Yet Turkey and the US are in the process of going back to 1964. This was when Turkey sought to intervene in Cyprus, where the Turkish speaking community was in great danger. Yet Washington publicly rebuked Ankara. It took a decade of preparation, but Turkey did it anyways in 1974, and it resulted in a US arms embargo against a NATO ally. It happened once, it may happen again. Still, we wonder whether Americans can do the right thing eventually. After trying all other possibilities of course.

     

    This commentary was published in Hürriyet Daily News on 15.06.2019

    Winston Churchill once said that “you can count on the Americans to do the right thing,” then he added, I presume with a smile, “after they have exhausted all other possibilities.” It isn’t any different for the Turks, I may add.

    Let’s look at the economy. The Turkish economy is in need of a viable program. Not a program to ease the pain Turks are feeling these days, but to one that attacks the underlying problem. Yet with continuing election cycles, Turkey is still exhausting all the other possibilities before doing the right thing. We know what’s needed, and you can count on us to do the right thing eventually - we were in dire straits in 1980, and in 2001 after that. Both times, it took us a while to go through the wrong courses of action before we got to the right one. I don’t see why this time should be any different.

    The Turkish economy is in a severe rebalancing act, as you may know. The current account deficit dropped sharply to a third of what it was in in the previous year. Car sales dropped 53 percent between May 2018 and May 2019. On the one hand, that actually looks healthy. On the other, it shows us that there is no growth. Already we are at a point where the 2.3 percent growth forecast of the New Economy Program for 2019 announced last September is not viable. We urgently need a reality check.

    Why? Turks at the moment just prefer to wait. Only last week, Turkish citizens increased their dollar holdings by 2.75 billion dollars. That’s the only way they know how to secure their money. They have battened down the hatches and are waiting for the administration to steer them through the storm. Yet the administration is busy with elections. All eyes are on Turkey, waiting for it to do the right thing, and the government is waiting for the election cycle to pass.

    While everybody is wondering what Turkey will do, Turks wonder whether Churchill was right about the Americans. The titan is at Turkey’s doorstep in Syria, in a process of exhausting all the other possibilities. So far, the sudden shifts in American policy south of our border has only made Turkey more open to new threats.

    Yet Turkey and the US are in the process of going back to 1964. This was when Turkey sought to intervene in Cyprus, where the Turkish speaking community was in great danger. Yet Washington publicly rebuked Ankara. It took a decade of preparation, but Turkey did it anyways in 1974, and it resulted in a US arms embargo against a NATO ally. It happened once, it may happen again. Still, we wonder whether Americans can do the right thing eventually. After trying all other possibilities of course.
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