Albayrak meets Trump, conveys Erdoğan’s messages on S400
BARÇIN YİNANÇ- Washington
Turkey’s Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak met with U.S. President Donald Trump on April 15 and conveyed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s messages, including Turkey’s decision to purchase the Russian-made S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems.
Speaking to a group of Turkish journalists, Albayrak said he departed the meeting at the White House with a positive impression.
Albayrak said he first had a meeting at the White House with Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on how to reach the target set by the two countries’ presidents to reach a $75 billion trade volume. Albayrak said he later met the U.S. president at the White House.
“I conveyed the messages of the president [Erdoğan] and we had a positive and constructive meeting,” he said. “I have had positive feedback [from Trump] and I will convey the necessary messages to the president [Erdoğan] when I get back [to Turkey].”
“Concerning the S-400 process based on Turkey’s needs, I witnessed a constructive view and positive approach at the presidential level,” he told the press.
The U.S. president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was also at the meeting.
Turkey’s decision to purchase the Russian-made S-400s had met reaction in the U.S., which threatens to suspend the delivery of the F-35 fighter jets along with additional sanctions.
Following his talks with Trump, Albayrak continued his meetings with his interlocutors on how to increase the trade volume in different sectors.
On the issue of Turkey facing potential sanctions due to its decision to purchase the S-400 missiles, Albayrak stressed the importance of communicating and explaining Turkey’s arguments at first hand. “It is important to have the right communication,” said Albayrak.
According to Albayrak, the fact that he was received by Trump at the White House shows the U.S. president’s positive perception about Turkey and his strong dialogue with the Turkish president.
Following his meetings at the White House, Albayrak addressed the American-Turkish Council conference gala dinner before leaving the U.S. for Turkey. Below are excerpts from his address:
“We recognize that we have serious differences over a variety of issues. However, we have to address them through a meaningful and sustained dialogue. We need to strengthen our resilient partnership despite our policy disagreements. Punitive measures have never helped our relationship and nor have they been successful. We need our friends on this side of the Atlantic to take our concerns seriously. Regardless of our differences on some matters, we have a great potential to strengthen our economic ties. In the economic sphere, our relationship has never realized its true potential. Our economic ties have to be just as robust as our traditional security partnership. It should be the main stabilizer in the bilateral ties.
Let us avoid threats of sanctions and games of brinkmanship and work on creating a realistic yet a positive agenda. There probably has never been a better time to invest in Turkey than today. With no elections for the next four and a half years and a strong government steadfast in its commitment to an ambitious agenda of economic transformation, Turkey offers amazing opportunities for investors of all stripes.
Since we set out with our New Economic Program last autumn, we have acted swiftly and in cooperation with the Central Bank to achieve price stability in order to help the economy transition to a sustainable growth path.
With the Structural Transformation Steps announced this week for the rest of the year, we are now in a position to pursue a complementary mix of policy actions to improve the economic outlook in the near term as well as structural changes to increase our growth potential in the long term.
Our overarching goal is to increase predictability and reduce policy uncertainty for businesses and investors. Informed observers know that we have the necessary political backing and time frame to deliver on our promises.
Our banking system is well-capitalized, and it continues to provide uninterrupted flow of credit to deserving businesses. But we remain vigilant, and we are taking precautionary steps to maintain the system’s resilience to external shocks: State-owned banks will receive new capital injections; private banks will retain earnings in addition to having contingency plans to replenish capital if necessary.
Our strong fiscal balance sheet provides us with confidence as we work towards reestablishing robust growth in the second half of 2019, but that will only be the beginning. We will undertake a significant transformation of our tax code later this year.
Turkey is deeply committed to maintaining and defending its free market system, the primacy of the rule of law, and the light of universal human rights. We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead, and we welcome everyone who wants to be a partner in this journey with us. That is to say, Turkey is open for business.”
Albayrak also said renewing elections in Istanbul will not destabilize markets, which have already priced in the polls, as alleged by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the still-undecided race for Istanbul’s mayor.
Albayrak attended the World Bank, IMF Spring meetings last week and held talks with members of the U.S. administration on Monday, April 15.
In contrast to negative coverage of a recent meeting with investors at a JP Morgan event, Albayrak said the meeting drew high attendance, where he answered participants’ questions, and the talks were efficient, assertive and jovial.
When asked about his views on the contested local elections in Istanbul, as the result still remains unknown, Albayrak said: “This question was never raised during my official talks; I only witnessed one or two participants to the investors’ meetings to ask about it. But the election results have consolidated trust in the presidential system.” He added that the ruling coalition won 52 percent of the votes, eight months after the presidential elections.
“The markets have brought the result of the elections in Istanbul. Whether elections in Istanbul are renewed or not will not make a change,” he said.
On the issue of state-owned Halkbank’s facing penalties for Iranian sanction busting, Albayrak said the newly appointed secretary of justice and secretary of treasury will be meeting soon to coordinate the process, but he did not further elaborate.