President Erdogan addresses Turkish Economy, Defense, and Gaza Support

Following the conclusion of the local elections on March 31 and the Ramadan holiday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan presided over the resumed session of the Presidential Cabinet.


The meeting lasted about three hours, during which Erdogan addressed numerous issues facing Türkiye, both domestically and internationally.

Infrastructure and public safety in Türkiye

Erdogan expressed his satisfaction with the infrastructure developments in Türkiye, stressing their impact during the recent holiday period. “Despite the criticisms from the opposition, we have once again seen how much the bridges and highways we have opened have alleviated traffic,” he said.

He supported his point with significant figures, noting that over 941,000 vehicles crossed the Osmangazi Bridge, while Istanbul Airport hosted 2.2 million passengers, and Antalya Airport saw a record 11,260 passengers.

The president also provided details on a tragic accident that turned into a 23-hour rescue operation. On the last day of the holiday, a cable car accident in Konyaalti Tunektepe, a famous holiday spot in Antalya, resulted in 1 fatality and 7 injuries. The incident left 174 passengers suspended hundreds of meters in the air, culminating in a nearly day-long, movie-like rescue operation.

“I wish a speedy recovery to our rescued citizens,” Erdogan stated while criticizing the opposition’s efforts to shield the real culprits behind recent accidents.

Addressing another recent tragedy, Erdogan spoke about the fire in Besiktas, Istanbul, that killed 29 workers. He condemned the lack of reaction from unions, media, and the opposition, labeling their silence as hypocrisy. “No one can use their political identity to shield culprits from justice,” he asserted.

Political Stability

The president congratulated the newly elected local officials, remarking on the peaceful and controversy-free nature of the elections, which he described as a gain for democracy.

“We have been enhancing the standards of our democracy for the past 21 years and will continue to do so,” Erdogan declared, pointing to the April 16, 2017, public referendum as a significant milestone in Türkiye’s political history. He noted that the will of the people had decisively ended discussions about returning to a parliamentary system.

With the election agenda concluded, Erdogan signaled the shift toward addressing urgent national issues such as the economy, security, and counter-terrorism efforts.

“We are now focused on pressing issues like the economy, earthquake preparedness, security, and human rights, along with combating terrorism,” he said.

Turkish economic growth

President Erdogan also discussed Türkiye’s strategic response to regional tensions amid the ongoing global economic turmoil triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, further complicated by inflation.

“We are feeling the repercussions of the tensions around us, yet we remain steadfast to our economic roadmap,” Erdogan stated, emphasizing Türkiye’s adherence to its economic plans despite regional crises.

Türkiye closed the year 2023 with a growth rate of 4.5%, positioning itself as the world’s 11th largest economy based on purchasing power parity. This achievement is emphasized by a record export figure for March, reaching $22.578 billion. “These figures represent the highest export values we have achieved,” Erdogan noted, pointing out that the trend of decreasing imports continues.

Erdogan expressed confidence that Türkiye’s growth rate would approach 4% by year-end. Employment figures are equally promising, with an annual increase of 1.156 million, bringing total employment to 32.4 million. “Like the rest of the world, inflation remains our primary challenge, but our goal is steadfast—to secure lasting prosperity,” he explained.

There are positive signs that annual inflation will begin to decrease in the second half of the year. A contraction in the current account deficit has commenced, showing a surplus of $34.6 billion, excluding gold and energy. “As we bring our domestic energy resources online, these numbers will only improve,” added Erdogan.

National income and energy sector expansion

In 2023, Türkiye achieved a significant growth rate and saw its national income surpass $1.1 trillion, with a per capita income exceeding $13,000. The January to March export growth stood at 3.6%, with the export-to-import ratio at 75%.

In the energy sector, significant strides have been made, particularly with the discoveries of Gabar oil and Black Sea natural gas. “We have successfully exceeded daily oil production of 40,000 barrels in Gabar. By the end of 2024, our target is to reach 100,000 barrels per day,” Erdogan announced.

Looking ahead, Erdogan outlined three primary priorities within the medium-term program: increasing savings in the public sector, prioritizing investments, and accelerating structural reforms.

Erdogan’s criticism of Netanyahu

Regarding the ongoing Gaza crisis, Erdogan stressed Türkiye’s role as a major humanitarian aid provider. “From day one of the Gaza crisis, we have been vigilant about the risk of the conflict spreading further. We will continue to exert every effort at all levels to prevent escalation,” he said.

Erdogan also criticized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for escalating regional tensions. “Since October 7, Israel has been taking provocative steps, and the recent strike on the Iranian Embassy in Damascus was the last straw,” Erdogan stated.

He accused Netanyahu of endangering lives to extend his political career, emphasizing that “Netanyahu himself should be condemned for risking the lives of his citizens and all peoples in the region.”

Erdogan underlines support to Gaza Strip

Erdogan also discussed Türkiye’s ongoing support for Palestine. “Today, with the dispatch of the ninth aid ship carrying 3,774 tons, Türkiye has solidified its status as the largest provider of humanitarian aid to Gaza,” he announced.

This statement comes in the wake of accusations against Türkiye regarding military support to Israel, which Erdogan vehemently denied.

“We will not forget those who falsely accuse Türkiye of providing jet fuel to Israel, well knowing that such claims are baseless,” he declared, reinforcing that “long before the massacres, Türkiye has consistently refused to allow the sale of any materials that could be used for military purposes to Israel.”

Discussing the broader Middle Eastern conflict, Erdogan stressed the detrimental effects of the international community’s response to the crisis.

“Neither fanning the flames nor constantly appeasing the Netanyahu administration does any good,” he observed. Erdogan warned that “as long as the oppression and genocide continue in Gaza, our region will remain vulnerable to new tensions.”

Accelerated growth of Turkish defense industry

President Erdogan highlighted significant advancements in Türkiye’s defense sector, proudly noting the substantial decrease in foreign dependency.

“When we took office, our defense industry was 80% dependent on foreign sources. We have successfully reduced this to 20%,” Erdogan stated. He also mentioned challenges faced along the way, such as when pre-paid weapons were not delivered. “Had we not shown the resolve to cut our path, we would still face the same issues today.”

Türkiye’s achievements in drone technology are particularly noteworthy. “With our TB2 Akinci and Aksungur aerial vehicles, we rank among the top three countries globally,” he declared. The defense sector’s global reach has expanded significantly, with Turkish defense products now exported to 185 countries, encompassing a portfolio of 230 products.

The export of crewless aerial vehicles (UAVs) alone reached $1.8 billion in 2023. Additionally, the successful maiden flight of the KAAN project marked another milestone in Türkiye’s defense capabilities.



Source: Newsroom