Turkey in review: The lira crisis, censorship controversy & COVID-19 trajectory

·

The coronavirus pandemic has caused governments all over the world to introduce drastic emergency measures, suspending many of the freedoms that citizens normally take for granted. Many of these measures are necessary in order to save lives.

In Turkey however, the measures implemented by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have had mixed results. They have led to a crisis of epic proportions – that is, the very structure of economic, political and social life in Turkey has changed. Here’s the lowdown:

The suppression of criticism and undesirable information:

The current coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly resulted in the viral spread of misinformation which poses a significant challenge to containment efforts. In response, many countries are using fake news laws as convenient tools to stop the proliferation of this disinformation.

Reports have emerged from Turkey however, that these laws are being used as a weapon to suppress criticism and accurate information just as readily as misinformation.

Fake news laws are being used to suppress people who criticise the Turkish government on social media. Source: Getty Images.

According to the Turkish Interior Ministry, as of March 16, authorities had identified at least 93 suspects allegedly responsible for “unfounded and provocative” social media comments about the coronavirus and they had arrested 19 of them.

Interestingly, the statement by the Interior Ministry on these arrests went even further to say that authorities were acting to arrest social media users whose posts “were targeting officials and spreading panic and fear by suggesting that the virus had spread widely in Turkey and that officials had taken insufficient measures.”

Perhaps this is the clearest indication yet that Turkey has been partaking in the suppression of its critics.

Turkey becomes country with worst COVID-19 trajectory:

Since declaring its first coronavirus case three weeks ago, Turkey has recorded one of the steepest trajectories of new cases in the world, amid fears it could become a hot spot of the pandemic.

The rapid rise in cases – 18,135 confirmed infections and 356 deaths as of today – has seen Turkey overtake other G20 states such as South Korea and Canada that reported cases of the virus weeks earlier.

Workers spray disinfectant at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Source: Reuters.

“It appears coronavirus spread long before the first case was reported due to trips to Europe, Iran and Umrah,” Professor of Infectious Disease at Gazi University in Ankara, Esin Senol, said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

“Limiting testing to those who had recently been abroad in the early days of the outbreak in Turkey also allowed the virus to spread.”

In the face of such criticism, President Erdogan has now implemented stricter measures to control the spread of the virus. His government has limited travel between Turkey’s provinces, halted international flights and imposed quarantines in some areas.

Lira at crisis levels as coronavirus hits trade:

Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit Turkey, its economy was already showing signs of weakness as it tried to recover from the impacts of the currency crisis in 2018.

But the outbreak of COVID-19 pushed the economy to its brink.

Although the Turkish lira initially held up well in March after Turkey’s Central Bank reduced its benchmark interest rate by one percent and several private banks announced the suspension of loan repayments, it fell to an 18-month low on April 1 as the coronavirus death rates accelerated.

The Turkish economy has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Source: Ahval.

Now, it must be noted here that Turkey’s dependence on importing almost all of its energy needs could provide a temporary economic reprieve of about $19 billion. However, according to economists from the Financial Times, it’s expected that Turkey, alongside South Africa and Argentina, could still be sliding toward insolvency and debt default.

On that note, it is clear that everything depends on how this crisis progresses and how long it will take to end.

Advertisement

Share:

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH TGH

By subscribing you accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Advertisement

Latest News

Historic link between Battle of Crete and ANZACs a focus of Sydney commemorations

The historic link between the Battle of Crete and the ANZAC forces were a key focus of commemorations in Sydney.

Multicultural media’s vital role in public interest journalism a key message at Sydney event

Multicultural media's vital role in public interest journalism was a key message at a Sydney event by IMMA.

‘Into the Moonlit Village’ echoes of Battle of Crete and Minoan myth

The story behind ‘Into the Moonlit Village’ is as captivating as the work itself. We found out more to mark the Battle of Crete.

Generations of Pontians remember their roots at genocide commemoration in Melbourne

Melbourne's Pontian community commemorated the Greek Genocide on Sunday, May 19, as part of a series of events. Read more here.

Australian Hellenic Medical Charity raises $30,000 for Nicosia hospital

The Australian Hellenic Medical Charity raised $30,000 for the Paediatric Clinic at Makarios III Hospital in Nicosia, Cyprus.

You May Also Like

Messages of congratulations for Archbishop Makarios on one year anniversary of enthronement

The Greek Australian community has sent messages of congratulations to His Eminence Archbishop Makarios on the one year anniversary of his enthronement.

‘The future is here’: Kytherian Association of Australia holds annual Aroney Awards Night

The Kytherian Association of Australia (KAA) hosted its annual Aroney Awards Night at The Lemnos on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

Team Greece’s chicken souvlaki wraps up a win against Team India on Plate of Origin

Team Greece's chicken souvlaki with tzataki did not disappoint on Plate of Origin last night, scoring a perfect 30/30 from the judges.