Sept. 27 (UPI) — Buoyed by energy ambitions, but concerned with national security, the Turkish government said it was bent on maintaining robust economic growth.
The Central Bank of Turkey said last week that gross domestic product grew 5.1 percent annually and 2.1 percent during the second quarter.
Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said Wednesday core growth has been higher than 5 percent for more than a decade, even as the country faces internal political and external security pressures.
“Our most important priorities are decreasing the inflation rate to single digit numbers, maintaining the current account deficit at a sustainable level and preserving financial discipline,” he was quoted by the official Anadolu news agency as saying.
The Central Bank said inflation rose 1.2 percent in August to 11 percent, driven by higher prices for durable goods and a slide in the value of the Turkish currency against the euro. Energy prices in Turkey increased by 2 percent because of gains in the oil market and annual energy inflation was 10.5 percent.
Simsek highlighted trade with its European and Middle East neighbors as a critical component of economic success, adding Istanbul could be turning into a global financial center. His comments followed a vote for independence in the northern Kurdish region of Iraq, situated at Turkey’s southern border.
About a half million barrels of oil per day move from the Kurdish north through a pipeline to a Turkish port on the Mediterranean Sea. Ankara said it would close the tap in response to a referendum widely criticized by major world powers.
Including trade ties, the U.S. government said the referendum would “greatly complicate” the relationship between the semiautonomous Kurdish government, Turkey and other neighboring states.
Turkey and Iraq began conducting joint military drills along the southern Turkish border on Monday. Lebanon became the latest country to halt flights to and from the Kurdish region.
Apart from oil from the Kurdish north, Turkey aims to exploit its geographical position to become an energy bridge linking oil and gas basins in Central Asia with the southern European market.