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Erdogan’s Neoliberal Policies at Root of Turkish Economic Crisis - Writer

© REUTERS / Murad SezerA money changer counts Turkish lira bills at an currency exchange office in central Istanbul, Turkey.
A money changer counts Turkish lira bills at an currency exchange office in central Istanbul, Turkey. - Sputnik International
During a Wednesday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the US will not remove steel and aluminum tariffs placed on Turkish imports even if Turkey releases American Pastor Andrew Brunson.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also called for a boycott on electronic products from the US, which has led to the Turkish currency, the lira, losing more than 40 percent of its value this year, crashing to an all-time low.

​However, independent writer Max Zirngast told Radio Sputnik's By Any Means Necessary Wednesday that the economic crisis Turkey is facing is the result of the economy's classical neoliberal system, which relies strongly on foreign investments, privatization and a very oppressive labor regime — and not on US imperialism, as the Turkish government would like its citizens to believe.

"Turkey has been living in a crisis state for quite some years where [the country has had] constant elections, civil war and uprisings. These economic problems arise from the Turkish accumulation model of the economy. Throughout the whole year, the Turkish currency has lost a lot of value with respect to international currencies," Zirngast told hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon.

Turkey jailed Brunson two years ago for his alleged ties to the movement founded by Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara has accused of orchestrating the 2016 failed military coup. In late July, Brunson was released from a Turkish prison and placed under house arrest. 

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On Friday, US President Donald Trump authorized the doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, up to 50 and 20 percent respectively. The Turkish lira briefly fell 20 percent against the US dollar, Sputnik reported at the time.

According to Zirngast, the economic crisis in Turkey has taken on the shape of fighting against US imperialism. However, in reality, the crisis is indicative of broader, structural issues within the Turkish economy that have existed since the 1980s.

"The 1980 coup [in Turkey] was [instigated in order to] crush the labor movement so classical neoliberal [economic] measurements could be introduced," Zirngast told Radio Sputnik.

"From that point onwards, the Turkish model relied strongly on foreign investments, privatization, a very oppressive labor regime, very long working hours, low wages. The Turkish economy, still today, is very closely tied to international developments. When Erdogan's AKP [Justice and Development Party] came into power in 2001, there was a deepening of the classical neoliberal programs which led to a period of growth. But what kind of growth?" Zirngast asked.

"The growth of the Turkish economy is strongly based on consumption by credit cards and the construction sector. So, it's not really a productive economy. If you don't have a productive economy, you need imports of goods, and that creates a balance deficit. To do away with this balance deficit, the Turkish economy relies a lot on foreign investments, the influx of foreign capital, which makes it a very vulnerable economy," Zirngast explained. 

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According to Zirngast, Turkey needs to implement a productive economy.

"Is that possible in a short time?" Zirngast asked, before giving his answer.

"It is not. So what is going to happen now is that they [the government] will try to avert this crisis. The price of this crisis will be loaded onto the shoulders of the working class using austerity measures of some sort. The Erdogan regime has tried to translate this crisis as a struggle against US imperialism," Zirngast added.

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