Quake to affect Turkey's economy, domestic policy

TEHRAN, Feb. 21 (MNA) – Faruk Logoglu says the devastating earthquake will have a lasting impact on the country's economy, adding that the quake also has already impacted the upcoming presidential and parliamentary election.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake which struck Feb. 6 has killed nearly 45,000 people in Turkey and Syria. One of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region in a century shook residents from their beds at around 4 a.m. on Monday, sending tremors as far away as Lebanon. Turkish authorities have recorded more than 6,000 aftershocks since Feb. 6.

Following the earthquake, tens of thousands of buildings collapsed in Turkey inflicting tens of billions of dollars in harm to the country's already fragile economy. 

Many believe devastating earthquakes in Turkey will leave great economic, and political effects on the country. To know more about the economic and political consequences of the earthquake, we reached out to Dr. Osman Faruk Logoglu a senior member of Turkiye's CHP and veteran politician.

Following is the full text of the interview:

How do you see the economic effects of the earthquake on Turkey and its economic growth?

The devastating earthquake will have a major and lasting impact on the Turkish economy as well as on politics.  The area affected by the disaster was home to extensive manufacturing activity.  Hence there will be significant bottlenecks in the production chain of different goods across Turkey.   Millions will be left without jobs and many will migrate to other regions of Turkey.  All this comes on top of a Turkish economy that is already suffering, among others, from double-digit inflation, high unemployment, and a huge trade deficit.  Certainly, the damage from the earthquake will generate a lot of rebuilding activity.  But this will require massive economic resources which are not readily available, given the fragile state of the economy. In the face of this unprecedented catastrophe, the people of Turkey and civil society organizations have demonstrated remarkable solidarity and unity, while the response of the official authorities has come under heavy criticism. . With the will of the people of Turkey and international assistance, Turkey will eventually overcome the challenges the quake created.  The Government keeps announcing different measures and steps to heal the wounds and meet the needs of the people.  Success will depend on preparing a realistic road map, better coordination, and keeping politics out of reconstruction efforts.    

Will the economic consequences of the earthquake affect the internal political balance of the country and the upcoming election?

The earthquake is a monstrous reality and the effects of its disastrous consequences will be with us for a long time to come.  It has already also impacted the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, having generated a debate about whether the elections should be postponed.  The political opposition insists on holding the elections on time. The Government mulls the question but has not yet made clear its stance on the issue.  The general view is that the response of the Government should have been more immediate, better coordinated, and more target-oriented to the urgent needs of the earthquake victims.  A change in the seat of power is widely expected to occur.  But then those in power, now in their 20th year, want to stay in power and will do their utmost to win yet another term.  I believe free and fair elections will be held on time and Turkey will reaffirm its commitment to democracy and the rule of law.  

Will the incident affect Turkey’s foreign policy, particularly towards Syria, EU, Greece and membership of Sweden and Finland in NATO?

The foreign policy being followed will probably not change much because of the earthquake.  Much will depend on the perception of the government of its domestic political needs and priorities.  If a gain in domestic politics is calculated by taking a foreign policy step, it will be taken.  On the other hand, the importance of the so-called earthquake diplomacy is exaggerated.  Disasters produce a lot of sympathy, empathy, and feelings of solidarity.  But they are transient.  But interstate disputes have staying power.  The main issue currently facing Turkey is the membership of Sweden and Finland in NATO.  US Secretary of State Bilinken, in his recent visit to Turkey, probably made a strong appeal for Ankara to approve the applications of the two countries.  In terms of the statements made at their joint press conference, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu appeared not to be saying "yes" to the call for parliamentary ratification.  Regarding Syria, there might be an opening because the Turkish side had already some preliminary approaches to the Syrian side before the earthquake.  And the devastation suffered by the two countries has brought them closer together in mutual arrangements for the flow of humanitarian aid from Turkey to Syria. Greece extended a genuine hand of help to Turkey which has been much appreciated by our people. But I do not foresee any forward movement in relations with Greece or on the question of Cyprus.  Ankara's accession negotiations have long been stalled and presently remain static.  Any change will probably come only after the elections in Turkey.

Generally speaking, will the consequences of the earthquake force Turkey to retreat its foreign policy towards the ones which Turkey has challenges with them or will Ankara use the situation as an opportunity to settle problems?

Given the fact that Turkey is readying for presidential and parliamentary elections in a short while, the attention in Turkey will be focused on repairing the damages caused by the earthquake.  There is not enough time to make consequential changes in Turkey's foreign policy.  Even more importantly, there is no indication that the current power holders in Turkey have the intention to change course in foreign relations."

Interview by Payman Yazdani

News Code 197647


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