the Turkish economy has been very strong since 2002, thanks to stable macroeconomic policies, structural reforms and a strong financial sector.
In public finance, we have gone through some crises in the past – namely in 2002 and also in the late 1990s. These have been very serious, but the experience has helped us confront the global financial crisis that started in 2007 and continues today.
We learned our lessons from the past, and we were prepared for the global crisis. Therefore, from its first moment, it has not touched us very seriously. We have no failing banks. Turkish banks can sustain themselves without support. In addition, the social security reform and employment package we put into effect in 2008 strengthened our economy to resist such problems.
The state is no longer involved in investments or economic activity. Whatever [state assets] we have in our hands, we are selling. We are being criticised by the opposition for that, even insulted. But we know what we are doing is correct, and we are determined to continue to take the steps we believe are the correct ones for Turkey.
Some people say we are selling the country. People cannot see the reality. This is not our perspective – quite the contrary. We say that whatever you call it – money or capital or labour – it does not have a religion, does not have a country, does not have a nationality. Money is like mercury: whenever it finds the proper environment, a good environment for itself, it immediately flows there. That is a reality.
If you prepare that environment it will flow to you, and if you fail to do that, then it will turn its direction and go somewhere else. This is why we were determined to provide the right environment.
With regard to the global crisis, the determined steps taken by our country, and the international community, and the cooperation we have achieved, will result in a revival in global economic activity in the coming period.
Turkey, with its strong economic base, strategic importance, young population and high potential, will be one of the most important economies in the aftermath of the crisis.
This is an edited extract from an address given by HE Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey at Chatham House on Friday