Ankara slams EU and Germany for using economy as ‘political blackmail tool’

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 26.10.2017 12:26
Updated 26.10.2017 14:48
Turkey's Customs Minister Bülent Tüfenkçi is speaking at the Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk on Thursday, October 26, 2017.
Turkey's Customs Minister Bülent Tüfenkçi is speaking at the Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk on Thursday, October 26, 2017.

Turkish officials slammed the European Union and Germany Thursday for "immorally" using economic restrictions as a political blackmail tool after reports of German banks pressuring European economic institutions to cut funding to Turkey.

Turkey's Customs Minister Bülent Tüfenkci said the EU has been trying to corner Turkey economically after failing to do it politically, saying the union's ambivalent and hostile attitude is upsetting Turkish businesses.

Speaking about the EU's plan to cut pre-accession funds to Turkey, Tüfenkci said European officials must first realize the promises made to Turkey as part of the refugee deal signed in March 2016, which included a 6-billion-euro aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees living in the country.

The minister said the EU's economic pressure and restrictions against Turkey will not be able to make the country surrender but will only hurt the union's credibility.

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked EU leaders to cut pre-accession funds to Turkey, pointing to an "utterly unsatisfactory situation with regards to human rights."

Bloomberg published a report Wednesday, claiming that Germany was actively working to cut funding to Turkey from the country's state-owned KfW bank, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

According to the report, more than a dozen government and banking officials confirmed Germany's effort to cut funding to Turkey from the state-owned KfW bank as well as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

While none of the banks or institutions imposed a formal freeze on funding, they did impose tighter restrictions. The EIB has put its Turkey projects on hold while KfW tightened funding procedures, requiring approvals coming directly from Berlin.

After the report, the EBRD said it remains committed to Turkey and continues to engage with the country, underlining that Turkey is its largest country of operation by annual investment volume and portfolio size.

Cemil Ertem, chief economy adviser to the president, said reports on German pressure on banks and economic institutions do not reflect the truth, adding that Europe's economic support to Turkey continues without a problem.

He said the timing of the report, which came a day before the Turkish Central Bank's interest rate decision, was "rather meaningful."

"There is an effort to show the Turkish lira as weak, and force an interest rate increase. Reasons behind such operations are clear," Ertem said.

The Central Bank of Republic of Turkey (CBRT) said Thursday that it will keep all key interest rates unchanged as global and geopolitical developments triggered the depreciation of the Turkish lira, pressuring upward risks in inflation.

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