Turkey's key ally, the United States, should show its support, to help Ankara tackle its severe economic difficulties, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said on Friday, March 16. "Time is of vital significance in overcoming the economic crisis," Ecevit was quoted as saying in an interview with the NTV news channel. "The United States should take action in an efficient manner," he added.
US President George W. Bush has contacted Ecevit and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer to express support for Turkey following an economic crisis last month which resulted in the Turkish lira falling by 30 percent against the dollar. "Bush has conveyed his support. It is time that they (work for) concrete results," Ecevit was quoted as saying by NTV. He also stressed that the European Union, to which Ankara is a candidate for membership, and the Group of Seven industrial nations should also act to help Turkey.
Ecevit's remarks followed an announcement that a top-level International Monetary Fund (IMF) official was expected in Ankara on Friday for talks on aid for a newly outlined economic recovery package. "The IMF has shown a positive approach to the package of priority measures announced by the government on Wednesday, and IMF European chief Michael Deppler will arrive in Turkey on Friday for talks on the issue," a treasury statement said.
"The talks will try to outline within several days a general framework for a program that can be supported with IMF funds," it added. Newly-appointed Economy Minister Kemal Dervis, a former World Bank vice president, presented on Wednesday a series of urgent measures to tackle Turkey's economic problems. They were designed in particular to reform the ailing banking sector, seen as the main source of financial woes, and to speed up privatization.
Dervis said the package was only the first part of a revised economic program, which became inevitable after the government decided to float the Turkish lira on February 22 amid financial turmoil triggered by fears of political instability.
The decision to abandon a pegged exchange rate disrupted a three-year IMF-backed anti-inflation plan in place since December 1999, raising prospects of higher prices and extra budget expenditures. Officials have said Turkey will need foreign financial aid to implement the required reforms, particularly to cover the huge losses of three public banks. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)