President Erdoğan grills Turkish Central Bank over interest rates

President Erdoğan grills Turkish Central Bank over interest rates

President Erdoğan grills Turkish Central Bank over interest rates

Erdoğan’s words came three days before a key meeting about the state of interest rates at the Central Bank. DHA Photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated his long-established criticism of Turkey's Central Bank for not reducing interest rates despite a sharp decrease in oil prices, vowing to question the Bank's governor on the issue in person.

“We have no problems with oil [prices]; on the contrary we are at a very good point. Therefore, we should find ways to let our people and our investors take advantage of this. What is the Central Bank waiting for?" Erdoğan said at a meeting with young businesspeople in Ankara on Jan. 16. 

"Now, they can say the Bank is independent. I am independent too. As the voice of the people, I should speak about it. If necessary, I will call them and we will talk about it. Things cannot continue this way,” he added.

Erdoğan is well-known for his strong opposition to high interest rates, and his latest statement comes three days ahead of a key meeting about the state of interest rates at the Central Bank. 

The president said that  despite the finance sector running the most lucrative business in Turkey, it is an "obstacle to new investments."

“No one is uttering a word about high interest rates. While interest rates are being reduced across the world, only our Central Bank is not moving. We are in need of investment, employment and production. We should provide cheaper costs [for investors] in order to compete in the international arena,” he said.

‘Parallel structure lobbying against Turkey’

Meanwhile, Erdoğan repeated his strong-worded criticisms of the Fethullah Gülen community, which the government refers to as the “parallel structure,” accusing the group of carrying out a "smear campaign" against Turkey in the United States and Europe.

“Do not give credit to negative news, or comments [about Turkey] in the international media. Be brave. The future is ours. Turkey is strong and will be stronger,” he said.

Presidential ‘külliye,’ not palace

He also announced the the gargantuan new presidential palace should be called the “Presidential Külliye.”

A külliye is an Ottoman architectural concept that designates a complex with a central mosque and a series of ancillary buildings – such as a hospital, library and public fountain – surrounding it.

“The presidential palace will soon be called the ‘Presidential Külliye.’ We will build a mosque, a 2,000-person capacity room. It will also contain a Presidential Library ... I believe it will be completed within two years,” Erdoğan said.

He also referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent assessments about the palace, saying that “This building is the sign of a great state.”

‘Even an atheist…’

Touching on the deadly recent Paris attacks and their repercussions, Erdoğan slammed European countries for not conducting efficient passport controls on their citizens before their departure.

“Hold efficient passport controls and prevent terrorists from departing. Our religion does not tolerate terror. There is no place for terror in our religion. No one can associate these terror attacks with Islam,” he stressed.

The president also stressed that Pope Francis had also criticized French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for its publications. “It cannot be called freedom; it’s terrorizing by occupying another’s area of freedom. There is no limitless freedom. Freedom of thought also has boundaries,” he said.

He criticized daily Cumhuriyet without directly naming it, for reprinting an image of the Prophet Muhammad from the latest issue of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. “They put it on their columns. Which country you are from? You cannot insult anybody’s sacred beliefs. They complain that security forces checked [the distribution trucks]. You invited a provocation; you should not have opened the door,” he said, adding that "publishing such cartoons has nothing to do with freedom of the press."

"A dangerous game was put on the stage,” Erdoğan added.