BCN-37, 38 Erdogan slams Western media over negative economy coverage

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Erdogan slams Western media over negative economy coverage

ISTANBUL, April 18, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
on Thursday criticised Western media coverage of the country’s economy after
a Financial Times report questioned the central bank’s management of foreign
currency reserves.

Turkey’s economy has slipped into its first recession in a decade after a
currency crisis last year battered the lira, leaving foreign investors
jittery over the government’s policies to manage growth.

The Financial Times on Wednesday reported that the central bank had
bolstered its foreign reserves with short-term lending in what analysts
worried was a way to overstate its buffer against any new lira crisis.

Last month, the lira fell nearly six percent in one day because of investor
concerns over foreign reserves as well as worries the government had turned
to unorthodox ways to shore up the currency before March 31 elections.

“Unfortunately, some quarters in the West, using all their media tools, are
trying to say our economy has collapsed,” Erdogan told a business forum.

“Let them write what they want, write the headlines they want. The
Financial Times writes some things. But the situation in my country is
clear.”

The Turkish leader has in the past attacked Western media coverage on the
country’s economy. Last month, he blamed currency fluctuations on a Western
plot led by the United States to weaken Turkey.

The lira was down almost 1.5 percent against the dollar in Thursday
afternoon trading.

The Financial Times story said it had calculated Turkey’s foreign reserves
were much lower than the $28.1 billion officially reported in April if the
short-term borrowing was stripped out of the calculation.

In a response to the FT, the central bank acknowledged short-term
operations may impact reserve figures, though it said its accounting was in
compliance with international standards.

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But some analysts told the FT they were worried about unorthodox methods and
transparency.

The weakening economy was part of the reason Erdogan’s AKP lost Ankara and
Istanbul in last month’s local election, in what was a stinging rebuke to the
ruling party after more than a decade and a half in power.

After a trade dispute with the US last year, Washington imposed sanctions
on Turkey and tariffs on some Turkish goods, leading to a 30 percent slide in
the lira’s value.

BSS/AFP/SR/2050 HRS