Erdoğan using Brunson crisis to cover up his economic failure: CHP

Erdoğan using Brunson crisis to cover up his economic failure: CHP

Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
Erdoğan using Brunson crisis to cover up his economic failure: CHP

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is deliberately using the ongoing row with the United States over the detention of pastor Andrew Brunson to cover up his big failure in the economy, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said, accusing the president of not taking necessary measures to stop the plunge of the Turkish Lira despite seeing the crisis coming. 

“Everybody knew difficulties in the Turkish economy could lead to the appreciation of the dollar against up to 7 Turkish Liras. Newspapers wrote and economists warned about it. Why did he [Erdoğan] not take measures two months ago? It was him who decided to go to snap elections to save him from the worsened economic conditions,” Kılıçdaroğlu told journalists at a meeting in Ankara on Aug. 16.  

The crisis with the U.S. over the continued detention of Brunson brought the economic crisis forward, Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding: “What he is doing is trying to cover up his failure in the economy by portraying the Brunson affair as a pretext to the currency crisis.” 

The lira lost nearly 40 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in the last few weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the Turkish government for not releasing the pastor. Washington has warned that more sanctions are in the pipeline until the pastor is returned home. Brunson, who is currently under house arrest, is being accused of aiding terror organizations. 

Kılıçdaroğlu recalled that the debts Turkey has to pay within a year is around $240 billion and that the Turkish economy suffers from the absence of necessary fiscal measures and structural moves. 

“Do you think the lira will gain against the dollar if Brunson is released? Would the amount of Turkey’s debts decrease?” he said, stressing that the Turkish economy needs more serious actions for a sound recovery. 

“This government is the most imprudent government ever in Turkish history. They have swept the incoming economic crisis under the rug,” he added. “In fact, what we are truly facing is a political crisis. This political crisis has reflections on the economy and foreign exchange rates. Turkey is regarded as a party state under Erdoğan’s rule, in which all powers have been accumulated in the hands of one man.” 

Turkey lacks rule of law 

The Brunson affair is the result of the lack of rule of law, and similar crises with other countries can repeat in the future if Turkey does not resolve this fundamental problem, Kılıçdaroğlu said, recalling earlier problems with Germany, France and Greece over the detention of their nationals. 

“They [the Turkish government] released Deniz Yücel [a Turkish-German journalist imprisoned on espionage charges] upon German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s request. French citizens arrested in Turkey were released after [French President Emmanuel] Macron requested their release from Erdoğan. Now they did the same for two Greek soldiers,” he recalled. 

“You can never convince [foreign countries] anymore when you talk about the rule of law in Turkey. And now, Trump simply wants his own national. On the Brunson case, we observe how Erdoğan and Trump are being obstinate with each other,” the CHP leader stated, adding: “Two acrobats are now trying to dance on the same rope.” 

Sound ties with EU needed

On recent positive statements from EU countries over Turkey’s crisis with the U.S., Kılıçdaroğlu said Turkey’s good ties with European countries and institutions were very important, but they need to be settled on a healthy foundation.  

“We should bring EU standards to Turkey: Legislation on the fight against terror, rule of law, fundamental freedoms, and freedom of expression... We should amend our constitution in line with these standards,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. 

He said Erdoğan is now seeking friends because he feels cornered by the U.S. administration’s aggressive policies on Turkey.

Turkey needs to shake hands with Assad 

On Syria, Kılıçdaroğlu urged Erdoğan once again to “shake hands with Bashar al-Assad” and work together with Damascus for the resolution of an imminent problem in Syria’s Idlib province. “Turkey must swiftly cooperate with the Syrian government on Idlib. Otherwise Turkey will face very important security problems and a new refugee influx,” he said. 

Arrested MP should be released 

One other top issue on the CHP leader’s agenda was the continued imprisonment of CHP Istanbul MP Enis Berberoğlu, who, the CHP leader says, regained parliamentary immunity after being re-elected as lawmaker in the June elections. 

Recalling that Berberoğlu’s appeal is expected to be discussed at the Court of Cassation in the coming days, the CHP leader reiterated his hopes for the release of the arrested lawmaker. “The judiciary should not see itself above the legislative body. This is not right. Berberoğlu needs to be freed for the sake of a credible judiciary,” he said. 

The CHP plans to appeal to the Constitutional Court and afterwards to the European Court of Human Rights if Berberoğlu does not get released, the CHP head said. “But we hope we won’t resort to these ways and won’t have to carry this shame to higher courts.”

Andrew Brunson, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Turkey sanctions