Turkey Worst Hit by Economic Crisis, Says Opposition Leader

ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–Speaking at a press conference held Tuesday at the Republican People’s Party (CHP) headquarters, party leader Deniz Baykal blasted the AKP government for its handling of the Turkish economy, calling Turkey the nation among all in the world hit hardest by the crisis.

“If they say after elections that they’ve struck a deal with the International Monetary Fund [IMF] and present a strict program, the responsibility will be on the government for failing to heed today’s warnings,” said Baykal, the current opposition leader in the Turkish Parliament

Drawing attention to recently released industrial figures, Baykal said four of every 10 industrial plants had ceased operations due to a halt in the flow of investment and an inability to pay off debt. “The closed facilities have led to many facing unemployment. A drop in production came along with a loss in income. Naturally, such shrinkage leads to unemployment. Today, Turkey is facing a grim picture of unemployment. Three-hundred-and-fifty textile factories employing over 500 workers have been shut down in Turkey,” he said.

Calling claims that Turkey is sailing through the crisis comical, Baykal said: “An evaluation is being made that claims the crisis is [not so bad] in comparison to other countries. Such claims have nothing to do with reality. Turkey tops the list of world countries where the crisis is being felt most severely.”

Showing journalists graphs of global economic data and speaking about the situations of other nations at this time, Baykal said that if the crisis is measured in terms of contraction in the economy, then Turkey comes right after Japan’s January spiral in terms of production loss.

Asserting that the loss of value of the Turkish lira is a prime example of the effect the crisis has had in the country, Baykal said that in the same vein, the loss Turkey has suffered in terms of exchange rates has been among the highest in the world. When all the economic data are considered, Baykal said, it can be seen that Turkey leads the list of nations dealt a heavy blow by the economic crisis. “This is a very fundamental observation, one that can’t be missed. What a shame it is that Turkey lost its opportunity to prepare itself for this crisis appropriately and fend off damage,” he said.

Due to unemployment rates, debt is “at an extraordinary level,” Baykal said, and this has created a situation where emerging from debt is, of course, impossible for the unemployed. Recalling central bank data on those unable to pay off their personal and credit card debt, Baykal predicted that annual figures on Turks unable to pay off their personal loans would rise to 600,000 and that the number of people unable to make their credit card paymen’s would rise to 1 million.

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