UPDATES WITH OTHER CEREMONIES IN IZMIR PROVINCE
By Merve Berker and Sena Guler
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey boasts strong foreign currency reserves and its economy is well positioned to compete on the world stage, said the nation’s president on Monday.
“The Central Bank had $27.5 billion in foreign exchange reserves when we took office,” in fall 2002, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, adding that now, it has $95 billion.
“During my premiership, this foreign exchange reserve increased to $132 billion. After that, we went down to $95 billion. What does this mean? We can go back to $132 billion and we will even reach $200 billion,” said Erdogan.
Turkey’s reserves are poised to grow larger still, he said, while speaking to his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s 7th Izmir Provincial Congress. He also attended the provincial congresses of both Hakkari and Nevsehir via video link.
“Turkey, which has already been under economic attack for some time, also needed to develop measures against financial fluctuations caused by the pandemic in the international arena. During this difficult period, planned and controlled foreign exchange transactions were carried out to avoid problems on the balance of payments side.
“All foreign exchange transactions in Turkey comply with the law and market rules and involve no exploitation, unfair gain, or illegal or immoral dealings,” he said.
At the heart of Turkey's breakthroughs in the energy sector – including its discovery of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea last year – are the strategies and groundwork developed under onetime Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak, who also served as finance and treasury minister, said Erdogan.
Erdogan also criticized those who have derided Albayrak’s efforts and success.
- PKK terror
Erdogan slammed the terrorist organization, PKK.
“For almost 40 years, the terrorist organization has been killing everyone -- from a baby in the womb, to one in the cradle; from a student going to school, to mothers, grandmothers, and the elderly.”
The number of terrorists in Turkey have decreased from thousands to hundreds thanks to our efforts, said Erdogan.
“Even though we are faced with many problems today, from the pandemic to terrorism, if we are still standing, if we can still look confidently at our future, if we are still walking toward great goals, we owe it to the achievements over the past 18 years.
“When we look at countries that are panicking in the face of threats and crises that are too small to compare with what we have been experiencing, we better understand the value of these gains.”
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian branch.
- Earthquake relief
Later, speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of houses for earthquake victims in Izmir province, Erdogan said: “In the last eight years, nearly 18,000 out of 20,000 buildings found to be risky have been demolished.”
He said they are planning to continue the urban renewal process swiftly in the province with the consent of residents.
Commemorating the lives lost to the powerful quake last October, Erdogan said: “As we always say, we cannot prevent disasters but we can reduce its devastating effects, and heal the wounds that occur after them.”
On Oct. 30, 2020, a powerful earthquake with magnitude 6.6 hit the Aegean province of Izmir, killing at least 116 people and injuring more than 1,000 others.
He said in the wake of the quake, efforts were initiated to build 5,000 houses in seven areas and some in the disaster-hit and reserve areas.
The ceremony includes groundbreaking for 1,444 houses and 208 shops in disaster areas and 397 houses in reserve areas, Erdogan said.
“Ten months after the earthquake, which means by August 2021, we will start handing over the houses,” he noted.
Erdogan also inaugurated the Gursel Aksel Stadium of Goztepe football club based in Izmir province. The stadium has a capacity of 20,000.