Turkey eyes normalization by Eid al-Fitr
The million-dollar question in the entire world is when the restrictions aiming to curb the spread of the virus will be lifted and we’ll return to our normal lives. Turkey, ranking seventh place with more than 90,000
COVID-19 cases globally, is no different.
Statements issued by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan late April 21 suggest that Turkey would return to normal in the aftermath of Eid al-Fitr, taking place between May 24 and 26. “We have started to reap the fruits of the measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak,” Erdoğan said, addressing the nation online.
Increased number of testing, the imposition of weekend curfews in 31 big cities and banning intercity travel along with well-implemented social isolation are some of the measures mentioned by the president.
“Our purpose is to reduce the spread of the outbreak by strictly following the measures to a level which would pave the way for our country to return to normalcy after Eid al-Fitr. We may even take some steps before the [Ramadan] Feast. All the sectors should conclude their preparations accordingly,” he vowed.
It’s no coincidence that Erdoğan has pointed out the Ramadan Feast as the breaking point in Turkey’s normalization process. Lifting intercity travels will surely boost tourism, a sector most concerned with the continuation of the anti-virus measures. Enhanced internal tourism would at least activate the halted economic life in the country at a time while concerns on a drastic decline in the tourism revenues are still on the table.
Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy has mentioned ongoing work for a coronavirus-free certificate for tourism establishments and hotels to be able to draw foreign tourists despite the pandemic.
Not only tourism. Considering the heavy toll of the pandemic on the Turkish economy, the government is carrying out analysis sector-by-sector with probable measures to keep them alive. Along with the health sector, priority would be given to the agriculture sector, food and stockbreeding as well as manufacturers and exporters which seem to have suffered gravely.
However, the vital aspect is from where Turkey will find the necessary resources to heal the wounds of the Turkish economy. Erdoğan was in close contact with United States President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with reports that the main issue was Ankara’s demand for a swap line from both countries’ central banks.
Turkish Central Bank Governor Murat Uysal acknowledged his bank’s dialogue with other countries’ central banks for swap agreements in an interview with Anadolu Agency over the weekend. He did not detail with which countries the talks are underway.
Finding resources seems to be essential for Turkey as the Central Bank’s net international reserves fell to $27 billion, while the Turkish Lira is in a constant depreciation. It has lost around 13 percent against the U.S. dollar since the beginning of 2020.
With concerns that the world economy could suffer even worse than the Great Depression of 1929, the prospects for an already fragile Turkish economy are far from being optimistic. That’s why two things are very much essential for Turkey: Finding adequate financial resources to keep the economy intact and a speedy normalization to keep the wheels of the economy running.
What is controversial with this plan is the fact that the coronavirus has not made its peak in Turkey yet, according to the members of the Science Board and that the next few weeks will be crucial in this regard. It will, therefore, be crucial to observe the course of the pandemic in the first half of May before taking steps towards normalization.