This August, Turkey’s economy became the main topic in global news coverage. The reason was a systematic attack on the Turkish economy by the biggest player in the global economic system, the United States. It was one of the most disappointing moments in the history of the alliance between Turkey and America. The administration of US President Donald Trump overtly attacked the economy of a fellow NATO member through sanctions and tariffs.
While the scale of the attack resulted in exchange rate fluctuations, the incident ultimately demonstrated the strong fundamentals of the Turkish economy. It also increased Turkey’s determination to strengthen our economy through structural reforms, new trade partnerships, and the attraction of foreign investments and to take steps to rebalance the structure of the international economy so that powerful countries like the United States no longer have the power to unilaterally disrupt the economic life of others.
For more than six decades, Turkey has been at the forefront of dealing with significant threats against Western countries. In recent years, this has included the fight against terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State. During this period, Turkey has become a hope for millions of refugees running away from the brutal regime in Syria and the target of terrorist organizations that want to expand the war in that country to the West. In one of the most unstable regions of the world, Turkey has become an island of stability.
I believe that the current challenge to Turkey’s financial system provides us with a great opportunity to strengthen the structure of the global economy and our position within it. Turkey is not the only country that the United States has recently targeted with sanctions under political pretexts. This unilateralist approach threatens developed as well as developing economies. It is clearly in the interest of most countries to cooperate in resisting unilateral economic decisions by powerful actors that are motivated by narrowly defined national interests — especially at a time when the world’s economies are unprecedentedly integrated with one another.
The world faces incredibly complex challenges. Washington’s threats to the international economy and international trade are a significant subset of those challenges, and the world must collectively deal with them. Unilateral sanctions, incitement of trade wars, and haphazard use of economic weapons could potentially trigger another global economic crisis. At this critical juncture, developed and developing economies around the world need to promote strong and institutionalized cooperation to handle potential crises and financial attacks. The assault on the Turkish economy must be viewed as an example of how the senseless use of economic pressure as a political weapon poses serious global risks. By acting together with Turkey now, other countries can also help it create a common strategy to avoid artificial crises in the future.