Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked supporters of high interest rates, condemned Israel for its actions in Gaza and reprimanded the leader of Kosovo during a string of speeches Saturday across the capital.
Erdogan berated defenders of high interest rates, which he said are a source of “every evil in an economy,” and that advocates for keeping rates high will answer to him.
“The interest rate is both the mother and the father of the inflation,” Erdogan said in televised remarks in Istanbul on Saturday. “Those who don’t know this, they should. Anyone attempting to act against this would find me facing them.”
Erdogan addressed crowds five times in Istanbul as part of an aggressive campaign ahead of next year’s local, parliamentary and presidential elections that will make the president’s office the center of political power by abolishing the prime ministry. His topics raged from the role of the central bank, to the violence between Israel and Hamas.
For years, Erdogan has said a key to containing prices is lower interest rates. On Saturday, he blamed financial institutions for lobbying for higher rates, which he said “makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.”
“We should know this as it is, and who is lobbying for it — the financial institutions. I am saying this openly, the state banks are also involved in this. We will solve this sooner or later,” Erdogan said. Responding to supporters’ calls that he should issue an order about interest rates, he said: “We’re already issuing orders but those orders are not carried out.”
Following the lira’s weeks-long slide against other currencies, which left everyone from TV commentators to columnists and economists fretting about the currency, Erdogan for the first time tried to deflect interest on the topic, in his own way. “What foreign-exchange rate? Down with your foreign exchange rate,” Erdogan said.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced 7.5 billion liras ($1.9 billion) in loans for small businesses on Saturday, further backing the economy’s growth following a 2016 coup attempt by followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Erdogan waged a crackdown on tens of thousands, including workers in every branch of government and leading members of the media, academia and the judiciary since the failed putsch. On Saturday, he said main opposition CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who accused him of being the “political leg” of Gulen’s network, will also pay for his remarks in court.
He then said Turkish citizens who are thinking of leaving the country are a “burden” on the country. “Actually, there is need to open an office for them and send them away by paying for their tickets,” he said.
On other topics, Erdogan reprimanded Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj of Kosovo for dismissing of Interior Minister Flamur Sefaj and Kosovo intelligence agency chief Driton Gashi for extraditing six alleged Turkish coup plotters to Turkey, urging people of Kosovo to punish for protecting Turkey’s political foes.
The president condemned Israel over the use of force in quelling a protest in Gaza.
“Israel is carrying out a massacre in Gaza,” Erdogan said as he condemned the reaction in Gaza on Friday in clashes that resulted in the death of at least 16 Palestinians.
Erdogan’s government has warned France against deploying its troops in Syrian town of Manbij, where Kurdish YPG forces are under threat of advancing Turkish army and Greece against fueling tensions over disputed Aegean islet of Kardak, or Imia in Greek, saying that its sovereignity on the uninhabited rocky islet can’t be questioned.