Hundreds of businesses shut down in eastern Turkey amid curfews, terror attacks
Şehriban Oğhan - DİYARBAKIR
DHA photoContinuing terror attacks and curfews have dramatically affected economic and trade transactions in eastern Turkey since last June, as around 500 businesses have closed down only in the Sur district of southeastern Diyarbakır since then, according to businesspeople from the region.
The companies have lost almost 70 percent of their revenue, they added.
According to data from the Diyarbakır Chamber of Financial Consultants, around 500 businesses were shut down in Sur and another 50 were moved elsewhere.
“Insurance experts have set a price of almost one-fifth on our goods. Banks don’t want to postpone loan repayments. Business activities are about to halt here. We don’t have the power to stand,” said the head of the Eastern and Southeastern Business Associations Federation, Şah İsmail Bedirhanoğlu.
Businesspeople from the region said they would visit Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek and Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz next week to discuss the issue.
Economic hardships in the region started last June amid escalating conflicts between outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and Turkish security forces. The region has been feeling the economic result of these conflicts hard recently, particularly since Nov. 28, when Diyarbakır Bar Association head Tahir Elçi was killed, and as a result of multiple curfews. On Dec. 4 security forces were involved in clashes with PKK militants in Sur, where a curfew was still in effect. Curfews were announced in several other eastern provinces, including Batman, Mardin, Şırnak and Hakkari.
The head of the Diyarbakır Chamber of Financial Consultants, Erkan Azizoğlu, underlined the importance of Sur in Diyarbakır’s economic activities.
“The oldest and the most stable businesses of Diyarbakır are based in Sur, which is the heart of the city in terms of both trade and tourism. Around 10 percent of 5,000 taxpayers in the district however closed down their businesses in the last couple of months. If the businesses had been so old, the picture would have been darker. Many tradesmen cannot make any business now and try to remain standing by taking loans or selling their equities,” he said.
He noted shops in the city are closed in the afternoon, even on days when a curfew is not in effect, adding that revenues have decreased by 70 percent over the last six months.
Bedirhanoğlu said he had paid his workers’ salaries from his own sources in the last six months at his 100-room hotel in Sur.
“We took 6 billion Turkish Liras of investment loan from the bank to build the hotel. As there is not any business at the hotel now, we have faced difficulties in paying our debt. We are in talks with banks to postpone the loan repayment, but we haven’t reached an accord yet… We have a three-story building which was originally valued at 5 billion liras, but an expert has recently set a price at around 2.7 billion liras. Then his bosses in Ankara slashed this amount to 1.7 billion liras. And the bank announced the final price at 1 billion liras. What can we do? Banks have urged us to make investments in the western Turkey,” he noted.