How should Turkey get ready for the post-virus world?
Like the rest of the world, Turkey has engaged in an intense, multifaceted struggle against COVID-19 and its impacts on social and economic life. The command center of the medical fight against the coronavirus is the Science Board while the office of the presidency is administrating the efforts to keep the social and economic order intact.
It’s being observed that the government is running a three-layered process to deal with the economic problems stemming from the measures imposed to curb the spread of the virus.
Meeting the needs of the poor and those who were ordered to stay home throughout the pandemic was one of the first things the government did. A monthly allowance to those who have no stable income has recently been introduced along with other ways to provide assistance. At the same time, actions and regulations to ease the financial conditions of the small and medium enterprises were taken with the support of the state and private banks. Thus, the immediate needs for the most vulnerable have been addressed.
The government’s second most important objective was to keep the economy to function and trade to continue despite sealed borders. Continued manufacturing and production and sustaining the supply chain have been regarded as the key components for a well-managed social and economic order, particularly at a time when the Turkish economy is in dire straits. That was the main reason why the government has not so far opted for a complete lockdown. Accordingly, the government has engaged in efforts to keep the trade flows particularly to and from Iran, Iraq and beyond.
As a matter of fact, these aforementioned measures are not unique to Turkey, almost all countries are trying to do their best in meeting the needs of their people and their economies.
The third layer the Turkish government is focused on nowadays is the post-corona world and the role Turkey would play in this new environment. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan explained this ambition in a statement late March 6.
“It’s crystal clear that nothing will remain the same in the world in the post-coronavirus era,” Erdoğan stressed, predicting a world where production and fair distribution of wealth will prevail. This will be the end of an era in which fortunes were made through manipulative financial tools, interest rates or stock exchanges, the president said.
That is the main reason why he said: “Our main struggle will begin in the aftermath of the pandemic. That’s why we are making an emphasis on the need for continuing our production. Every factory that can work will continue to manufacture. Our farmers will not leave single uncultivated land.”
“We will work altogether in the strongest way to get our place in this new world,” he added.
Although difficult to envisage how the world order will look like in the post-corona world, predicting new opportunities is not fully irrelevant. With a young population and skilled manpower as well as its geographical advantages, Turkey can be poised to become a manufacturing hub in its region for both the West and the East, and to multiply its trade connections.
However, realizing this objective requires more deeds than words. In the absence of a genuine economic and democratic reform, achieving this point would be unlikely. The economy has to be reformed in a way to boost production and to promote information technologies by acknowledging that a construction-based economy has already petered out.
Democracy needs to be upgraded as well. The fate of future talks for the modernization of the customs union with the European Union depends on the government’s willingness to undertake serious and genuine steps concerning human rights, freedom of expression and rule of law.
It goes without saying that the world is changing – as it always did. But some values will unlikely change in the coming age.