The IMF and Turkey
by Professor Dr. Oktay Sinanoglu
cc. Prof. Sinanoglu was born in Bari, Italy, and grew up in Ankara, Turkey. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Berkeley, a Master of Science degree from MIT, and a PhD degree, also from Berkeley. He is professor of physical chemistry (since 1960) and molecular biology (since 1966) at Yale University. He was the first recipient of the Alexander v. Humboldt Award. He is member of the Board of Directors of the Turkish-Kazakhstan University in Kazakhstan. Three of his most recent books (e.g. 'The New World Order') have become bestsellers in Turkey. The subject of the following article is the IMF and Turkey, which has been in a terrible economic crisis for some time now.
I shall attempt to summarize the present situation in Turkey for you so that you may assess it in correlation with what is being done to many countries today in the name of the 'New World Order'. In other words, one should not assume that the Turkish situation is indigenous to that country; it has a far wider, world-wide context.
To the uninitiated, it would appear that Turkey was suddenly confronted by an economic crisis last year. An outsider might surmise that all the Turks were all of a sudden unable to manage their economy, and as a result the economy collapsed. Well, I have news for you. That is not what actually happened. To understand this situation one needs to go back twenty, even fifty years.
At the moment the country is being fed intravenously by the IMF (in the form of short-term high interest loans to postpone the interest on the interest), each drop coming along with conditions totally irrelevant to banking principles and to the economy per se.
In April '99 there were elections; each of the 5 major parties received 10 to 18% of the vote, and three of them were made to form a coalition. One of the parties, which received the second largest vote, used to be considered an extreme right-wing and nationalist party. It is surprising that this party was allowed to partake in the coalition (let us recall what had happened in Austria a little earlier). The first party, which received the most votes, supplied its leader who is the present Prime Minister, Mr Ecevit. Mr Ecevit had already been Prime Minister in the 1970s, at which time he had been thought to be quite leftist and against imperialism, etc.
The third party was actually the most honest because its members at least never claimed to have any ideology, and they never denied that they were mainly interested in deep pockets and internationally linked secret societies. The head of this party (now vice-prime minister) is presently in charge of our relations with the European Union and also with the present oil and gas pipeline negotiations. He is considered to be of the German school, rumour has it that he was educated in Germany. Actually, he does speak German quite well.
Both the rightist and leftist parties got whatever little votes they got by pasting posters all over Istanbul and other cities before the election. The posters of both parties contained slogans against 'globalisation' and against 'privatisation', which in Turkey means selling all the national industries, resources, and now the land to foreign powers, although the term 'giving away' would be more appropriate.
As you know, there was a devastating earthquake in Turkey about the time the coalition government [the triumvirate] was formed. While the wreckage was still on the ground, while all kinds of people were suffering, it is quite remarkable what this supposedly anti-imperialist, anti-globalisation and anti-privatisation coalition did (whereas coalition in this case really encompasses just three people, namely the party chiefs; as the way the system was set up in the early '80s does not give importance to all the others): One evening they passed a law which essentially relinquished national sovereignty in matters of legal jurisdiction vis-à-vis foreign companies. As a result Turkish courts no longer have jurisdiction; it has been transferred to foreign courts. They used some sort of old-sounding word for it, 'tahkim', which nobody understood. (It makes one wonder where the word came from).
Immediately after this and until August 2001, they sent eight so-called 'letters of ' to the IMF. As you know, and I know, the IMF has forced various governments in many countries to accept certain conditions, many of a political nature, for tiny loans; and such countries have ended up in worse situations than when they started out. [Many economists, including some of of IMF's expersonnel have written amply on this.]
These eight 'letters of intent', sent one after the other to the IMF, basically gave the country away. [Actually, since the 1950's there have been 19 letters]. The conditions include forced changes in the constitution which would surely lead to the disintegration of the country, as well as means by which national banks could be given to some foreign banks, national enterprises would be abolished, and finally all national lands could be placed in the hands of a few supranational corporations, and yes, even to foreign governments! Meanwhile, the press and TV have constantly been doing their duty to mislead the public.
In the year 2001, of all the tax revenues collected by the Turkish government, 106% will go to pay the interest on debt. This is the result of the IMF policies which have been enforced for years, so that nothing is allowed to be produced, and the economy is increasingly becoming based on imports from the US and EU which are being paid for by loans. Agriculture and livestock raising have decreased and are even coming to a halt. As a result, Turkey, a country that not only fed itself, but most of Europe as well during and right after the Second World War, is becoming a country that has to import even its wheat. In the last two years, the GNP (per capita gross national product) has dropped to half of its prior value.
One should not surmise from this bleak picture that there is no one around capable of managing the economy and other affairs of state. In fact, there are many able, intelligent, highly educated and competent people in Turkey; however, those who might have their hearts in the right place, i.e. who endeavour to work for the bonum commune, those who believe in the independence and integrity of the nation-state, find themselves out of any kind of office, away from any position of responsibility.
I shall dispense with the many more specific facts, figures, and details one could give here. What I find intriguing is that, when listening to experts, men and women of thought who come from both Western and Eastern Europe, as each person relates the woes of his or her country, how the lands and animals of the farmers are being disposed, one can see the same basic pattern emerging in each country. To put it in the words of many: 'People whom we really did not elect, but who gave the impression that they were elected, once they get into power they basically work towards the elimination of our independence, of our cherished constitutions, of our sovereignty and nation-states'. And: 'Our media by and large mislead our populace, they beat the drums of a false 'globalisation', and supposed 'privatisation'.
So we, the people from diverse countries, have much in common. All of us who stand for human dignity for all, who are concerned about the turn events are taking worldwide, those of us who feel anguished by the unjust suffering of millions of people everywhere, should stand united, put our differences and prejudices aside, and work tirelessly for the well-being of humanity.