By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - The current Turkish-led counter-terrorist operation in Syria will not damage Turkey’s economy, but on the contrary will strengthen it, according to a leading lawmaker of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.
"We ended 2017 with huge growth, and we began 2018 with high confidence, which is an important indicator for Turkey," AK Party Deputy Chair Cevdet Yilmaz told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
Yilmaz reiterated that Turkey's economic confidence index soared 10 percent month-on-month in January, and cited Turkey's phenomenal 11.1 percent economic growth in the third quarter.
"Stocks are rising, the dollar exchange rate is stable, and indicators of the real economy are going well," he said.
Economic confidence in January reached 104.9 points, up from 95.3 points in December, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
Turkey's economy expanded 5.3 percent in the first quarter and 5.4 percent in the second quarter of 2017, followed by 11.1 percent in the third quarter, making its economy the fastest-growing among G20 countries.
- 'Tighter security, stronger growth'
Yilmaz said that Operation Olive Branch aims to secure Turkey's southern borders against terrorism.
"The ongoing operation having a negative effect on Turkey's economy is out of the question," said Yilmaz.
"Quite the contrary, it is reinforcing our economic development by tightening our security and boosting our defense industry."
Yilmaz said that Turkey's confidence would grow stronger after operations against the terrorist PYD/PKK.
"An environment of tighter security will fuel the economy," he said.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.