Erdoğan pledges to fight high interest rates if re-elected

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 14: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) speaks during an interview at Bloomberg TV in London, United Kingdom on May 14, 2018. Kayhan Ozer / Anadolu Agency

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pledged to fight high interest rates in Turkey if he is re-elected in snap elections on June 24, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

“I am openly saying in this meeting, we can’t elevate our country with high interest rates. If are to strengthen businessmen, we need to lower interest rates,” Erdoğan said during a meeting with businessmen in Adana.

Although Erdoğan has insisted on low interest rates, the central bank hiked rates by 4.5 percent in May in an attempt to halt the loss in value of the Turkish lira.

“Now some would say, ‘Mr. President, please don’t talk about it right before the elections.’ Why? We will talk about what is right,” Erdoğan said, responding to critics who blamed the lira’s slide on Erdoğan’s remarks.

Erdoğan went to London in May, meeting with global money managers who had concerns about his insistence on low interest rates and desire to tighten his grip on the economy.

At the end of the May, Mehmet Şimşek, the economy chief of Turkey, held meetings with global investors, dialing back Erdoğan’s earlier remarks.

“We inherited interest rates of 63 percent. Inflation was 30 percent back then. We decreased them and decreased them further. They reached 4.6 percent, and the West got jealous. That was why the Gezi protests began,” Erdoğan said.

The Gezi Park protests erupted in June 2013 after then-Prime Minister Erdoğan announced a plan to destroy part of Gezi Park in İstanbul’s Taksim Square to restore a historic building and build a shopping mall.

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