As more and more people in Turkey are expressing their anger and protesting in the streets and on social media over the rising electricity and natural gas prices they have faced since the beginning of the year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that there’s no reason to make a fuss about the issue, local media reported on Friday.
Turks started 2022 with news of jacked-up prices, fueled by a currency crisis amid the highest rate of inflation in nearly two decades.
Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) announced on Jan. 1 that it had raised electricity prices by 52 percent for lower-demand households for the new year and 127 percent for high-demand commercial users, while the Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) raised natural gas prices by 25 percent for households and 50 percent for industrial users.
“The opposition’s speculative efforts on electricity and natural gas [prices] should be thwarted. The situation is nothing like what the opposition makes a fuss about. … We haven’t let our citizens get crushed by inflation [so far], and we won’t, either,” Erdoğan told reporters on Friday.
Speaking during a public event on Saturday, İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) responded to Erdoğan, saying it wasn’t possible to find a solution to people’s financial problems, added to by the rising electricity and gas prices, by saying there was nothing to make a fuss about.
“Everyone knows that [if] people’s electricity bills were TL 1,000 ($74) before , they have now increased to TL 3,000 ($222),” İmamoğlu said.
Meanwhile, the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) on Friday filed a lawsuit at the Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court, demanding an injunction and annulment of the EPDK’s decision to increase energy prices at the beginning of 2022.
Thousands of people in eastern Ağrı province and Muğla in the west last week protested in the streets against the rising electricity prices they have faced since the beginning of the year.
The protesters said in a statement that there had been a two- to threefold increase in the electricity bills they received over the past month and that some of the merchants in the city had to pay electricity bills surpassing their monthly rent, demanding that the government roll back the price hikes.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also organized protests across the country on Wednesday, with the party’s local organizations urging the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to withdraw recent price hikes in press statements released simultaneously in all 81 provinces.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a video he tweeted late on Wednesday that he wouldn’t pay his electricity bills until President Erdoğan rolls back recently introduced increases in energy prices.
The protests continued on Friday in İstanbul and İzmir provinces, according to local media reports.