Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has claimed that his government will eliminate produce wholesalers the same way it neutralized terrorists in the mountains, the Diken news website reported on Sunday.
Addressing a campaign event in İstanbul for Turkey’s upcoming local elections, Erdoğan once again touched on the issue of inflation, specifically rising food prices that many Turks have been complaining about on social media.
Reiterating his and his government’s claim that wholesalers are mainly responsible for the hike in prices, Erdoğan vowed to proceed with the sale of produce at cost via municipalities in order to regulate prices.
Erdoğan also addressed an allegation that commerce ministry inspectors dispatched to fruit and vegetable markets were faced with attempted battery.
“If there are some people who think they are stronger than the state, they should know that just like the state has obliterated terrorists on Cudi, Gabar and Tendürek [mountains], it will also soon vanquish those who terrorize the marketplaces,” Erdoğan said, referring to the Turkish armed forces’ operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the mountainous areas of Turkey’s Southeast.
While wholesalers and shopkeepers have been repeatedly targeted by the government and pro-government media outlets for allegedly manipulating prices, some of them fired back, expressing their frustration in street interviews.
“If the government is going to purchase and sell fruits and vegetables without trying to generate any profits, we will not be fighting on equal ground as the government will be able to use its means for non-profit sales while I will go out of business. Why am I paying taxes, then? The government is scapegoating the producers, the brokers, etc., whereas it has only itself to blame,” said one salesman in a video that went viral on Turkish social media.
This is not the first time Erdoğan has made a terrorism-related analogy to address economic issues on the campaign trail.
“All this talk about tomatoes, eggplants and green peppers. Do you have any idea how much a bullet costs? Think about the cost of getting our soldiers ready to fight terrorists. And here you are talking about tomatoes and potatoes,” Erdoğan had said at another event on Friday.