World Bulletin / News Desk
Claims made by some credit rating agencies that Turkey's economy is slowing down are done for political reasons, not economic ones, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.
Erdogan was attending a meeting of Turkey's leading business association's, TUSIAD in Istanbul, where he called on all Turkish businessmen to act together against any attempts to harm Turkey's reputation.
Fitch Ratings said last week that economic rebalancing observed in Turkey’s economy in the first half of the year might encounter difficulties in the forthcoming second half.
Turkish President criticized Fitch's report last week in which Turkey gets a lower rating.
He said Turkish businessmen should be hopeful about the future as Turkey will keep improving despite regional problems in Syria and Iraq.
Erdogan stressed that improvement in industry will be achieved when industrialists and businessmen invest sufficiently and called the businessmen to invest more across the country.
"Developing investment opportunities will speed up Turkey's 'solution process' with the Kurdish people, which is basically nourished from poverty," he said.
Bank Asya row rumbles on
Meanwhile, Erdogan denied on Thursday the existence of any concerted effort in Turkey to sink one of its banks, days after lender Bank Asya said it had been the target of a systematic campaign to undermine it.
The lender, with more than a million deposit-holding customers and 280 branches, is caught at the centre of a power struggle between Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen, whose sympathisers founded the bank.
Bank Asya Chief Executive Ahmet Beyaz said this week the bank was healthy and vowed to see off what he said was a "smear campaign". The bank, he said, was meeting all its obligations.
He suggested that attacks on his bank could sour foreign investors' view of Turkey.
But Erdogan told business group TUSIAD at a conference in Istanbul:
"It's being said that there are efforts being made to sink a bank. There is no work being done to sink a bank. This bank has already failed. But they are trying to keep it afloat with a few buckets of water.
"Shall we repeat past mistakes and keep alive such a failed financial institution?" he said, referring to Turkey's previous banking crises.
He did not mention Bank Asya by name.
Bank Asya's profits and deposits tumbled in the six months since December, when the rift between Erdogan and Gulen burst into the open. The government cancelled tax collection and social security payment contracts with Bank Asya last month.
Local media reports say state-owned firms and institutional depositors loyal to Erdogan withdrew 4 billion lira, or some 20 percent of the bank's total deposits, earlier in the year, although Bank Asya has not commented on these figures.
Bank Asya shares have fallen 43 percent this week since resuming trading following a suspension on Aug. 7 due to uncertainty about its future. The stock slid a further 11 percent after the market opened on Thursday, but later reversed those losses to trade up 11 percent at 0.71 lira ($0.32).
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