The domestic Turkish economy has a very difficult time, and many of the reason for this lie in last actions by its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been in office since 2014, after 11 years as Turkish prime minister. This difficulty can be demonstrated well by the value of the Turkish lira. In May 2013, the Turkish lira was equal to 0.52 US dollar, today, five years later is equal to a bit more than 0.2 US dollar. According to Erdoğan, this falling down is due to the high-interest rate of the central bank which causes high inflation. On the other hand, Turkish economic specialists claim that the problem causes by Erdogan’s vigorous pursuit of monetary policy.
The Israeli-Turkish complex relationship is not the subject of this article, but the recent economic interuptions are necessary to understand how far Erdoğan willing to goes in his rhetoric. In Turkey 2002 election the ‘Justice and Development Party’ (AKP), won the election. The new Prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visited Israel in 2005 offering to serve as a Middle East peace mediator and to build up trade and military ties. After Erdoğan’s visit few Israeli high rank official and delegations pay a visit to Ankara. The turning point showed up in January 2009, when Erdoğan criticizes Israeli policy and leaves the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. From this incident on the relationship between the countries deteriorated.
Trade relations between Turkey and Israel are fairly tight. As at 2016, Turkish exports to Israel totaled $ 2.96 billion, out of total exports of $ 142.5 billion – that is, Turkey exported 2.1% of its exports to Israel. However, Turkey has a trade deficit with most of its trade partners. Israel is exceptional in this sense – Turkey exports more than it imports from Israel. That gap, as of 2017, is $ 1.9 billion. In other words, theoretically, the cessation of trade with Israel would cost Turkey $ 1.9 billion in its trade deficit. Erdoğan’s threat in the last week to cut off the trade relations with Israel has the capability to cause damage, which can not be deflated, to the relationship.
As mentioned, Erdoğan’s threats to stop trade relations with Israel are seemingly disconnected from the Turkish economy status. Erdoğan speaks of Israel’s attitude toward the Palestinian people as a justification for the boycott he is offering, and his rhetoric is reminiscent of that of Iranian leaders, who, beyond the talk, also fund terrorist activities against Israel and the west. In demonstrations against the regime, demonstrators protested that Iran was investing money and energy in the Palestinian problem and in promoting terrorism against Israel, instead of the citizens’ daily economic difficulties. For now, of course, the Turkish general and economic situation are much better than that of the Iranians, so the chances of protest demonstrations that seek to leave Israel and deal with the Turkish economy.
The main question is why? Why Erdoğan’s choose to use his rhetoric and why when the domestic Turkish economy has a very difficult time? It seems that Erdoğan wants to fortify his rule and change the constitution before Turkey’s financial situation infects the economy and leads to its downfall. His anti-Israeli rhetoric will not hurt him in the elections. In addition, he conducts an election campaign outside his own country, using a well-known rhetoric of intimidation. On Sunday, he spoke in Sarajevo to 15,000 Turks from across the continent and told them that the EU was undermining Turkey and that European democracy had failed.
Opinions represented at PPJ are belong solely to the contributor of the piece and do not represent any other people, institutions or organizations that the contributor may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.