A former member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has claimed that Turkey’s treasury and finance minister, Nureddin Nebati, will be replaced within two months because he showed everyone in Turkey and abroad that “he understands nothing about the economy,” local media reported on Friday.
During a debate program on Kanal 42 TV, former AKP İstanbul provincial chair and current vice chair of the opposition Gelecek (Future) Party Selim Temurci said Nebati will be replaced as soon as April or May.
“Nebati probably will be on his way out in April or May. We can see that. It’s very clear. … Nebati will leave because of this; he told everyone in Turkey and around the world that he understands nothing about the economy,” Temurci said.
The opposition party member’s remarks came days after the minister drew criticism and ridicule on social media for using Islamic-nationalist rhetoric when talking about annual inflation, which in February reached 54.4 percent, a two-decade high, according to official figures.
“Good things will always come to this country. Don’t worry about it. Don’t feel sad. We all have an ideal. Our flag won’t touch the ground and the adhan [call to prayer] won’t be silenced,” the minister said.
Nebati’s remarks on the flag and the call to prayer, which are frequently used by members of the ruling AKP in times of crisis, led many to believe that his departure was imminent.
“The situation is much worse than we thought, since the adhan and the flag remarks came before the end of his sixth month on the job. That tactic is obsolete. Mr. Nureddin Nebati, you should find new things to say,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Veli Ağbaba tweeted on March 21.
Nebati was appointed as minister of treasury and finance by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in December, replacing Lütfi Elvan, who held the post for just over a year after having replaced Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan’s son-in-law.
The appointment of Nebati, 57, who has a bachelor’s degree in public administration, a master’s in social sciences and a doctorate in political science and public administration, has prompted discussions about his credentials to steer the country’s deteriorating economy amid a currency meltdown, mostly because he does not have a degree in economics.
According to local media reports, Nebati had served as an AKP deputy for three consecutive terms between 2011 and 2018 and in 2014 wrote a doctoral thesis on the ruling party’s view on democratic values.
The minister was also revealed by the Turkish media to be a member of pro-government foundations that include the Ensar Foundation, the Society for the Dissemination of Science and the Turkey Youth Foundation (TÜGVA), on whose advisory board Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan sits.
Nebati has also been ridiculed on social media for asking a reporter to look into his eyes and tell him what she saw when asked during an interview back in December to provide information on Turkey’s then-recently unveiled emergency plan to curb the lira’s depreciation.
“The statistics are so good. Look into my eyes, Ms. Gülçin. What do you see?” the minister said in answer to a question by news anchor Gülçin Üstün Can on the state-run TRT Haber.
“I see happiness there, but the economy is about the numbers,” Can said.
“[You say], ‘Economy is about the numbers,’ economy is about the wishes … the trust … the stability … the expectations. The economy is the sparkle in the eyes. My friends see the sparkle in my eyes,” the minister responded, attracting ridicule on social media.