Erdoğan says Turkey foiling diplomatic, economic attacks in Republic Day address

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a national address on Thursday that Turkey is repelling a barrage of diplomatic and economic attacks as it seeks to strengthen its global standing and meet goals for its centenary in 2023.

“One by one, we are foiling this wave of attacks, which extends from diplomacy to the economy and to our values, with the strength we receive from our nation,” Erdoğan said in a televised address to mark the 97th anniversary of the Turkish republic.

“Our country will continue to act according to its own vision and its own agenda, regardless of who says what or what they do,” he said.

Erdoğan has sought to bolster Turkey’s role in regional and global affairs since acquiring vastly expanded executive powers at elections in 2018. His government has sent troops into Syria and Iraq, establishing military bases there, backed the Libyan government in Tripoli against opposition forces supported by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and become embroiled in a dispute with Greece over territory in the eastern Mediterranean.

In his address, Erdoğan drew attention to long-held complaints about the unfairness of the global political system, which he said was epitomised by the United Nations Security Council, made up of five countries – the United States, France, Great Britain, Russia and China.

The Turkish president has sought a global role for himself and Turkey by seeking to become a public voice for Muslims around the world and by establishing closer relations with Russia at the expense of ties to the West. He has also sought to bolster Palestinian ambitions for statehood via his support for Islamic group Hamas and backed the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt and the wider region despite staunch opposition from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“To the echoes of our call, 'The World is Greater than Five', in which we point out the distortions of the global system, we are walking with much greater hopes to the peaceful and prosperous future we dream of with our friends,” he said.

Erdoğan spoke after the Turkish lira hit record lows against the dollar on Wednesday. The government has intermittently blamed the lira’s losses, which total 28 percent this year, on a foreign conspiracy designed to obstruct Turkey’s rise to becoming a top regional and global power. But investors blame the slump largely on lax monetary and economic policy. The losses have raised concerns for financial stability and the country’s long-term economic health.

A decade ago, Erdoğan set ambitious economic goals for Turkey’s centenary year of 2023. They included making the country one of the world’s top 10 economies with annual output of $2 trillion, reducing the unemployment rate to 5 percent and increasing exports to $500 billion per year.

Many of those goals are now out of reach. The economy was worth $743 billion in the 12 months to June compared with $772 billion a decade ago, ranking the country 19th globally. Turkish exports were $180 billion last year, rising from $168 billion in 2018. Unemployment stood at 13.4 percent in August, even after the government barred companies from firing workers after the outbreak of COVID-19.