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Turkey Chief Calls on Politicians

July 13, 2001

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Turkey’s treasury chief urged politicians Friday to abide by their own economic recovery program, saying that investor confidence is crucial to bringing down interest rates.

On Thursday, the IMF agreed to release $1.5 billion in new loans after withholding approval for about a week, saying that Turkey was not adequately carrying out promised reforms.

The loans are part of a $15.7 billion rescue package that was approved after an economic crisis in February sent the lira plunging some 50 percent, leading to some 500,000 layoffs.

``The determined implementation of the program and the creation of an environment of confidence is the most important thing to reduce interest rates,″ said Faik Oztrak, the head of Turkey’s treasury.

Soaring interest rates, which hit 109 percent on Thursday, have left Turkey struggling to pay its $130 billion in foreign and domestic debts. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit insisted Thursday that Turkey was in no danger of defaulting.

Turkey’s economic recovery program calls for slashing government spending and privatizing key industries. Ecevit’s nationalist coalition partners have balked at privatizing some of these industries and have insisted on placing political allies on the board of Turk Telekom, which is slated for privatization.

``If we all work together, if we all support each other, then the Turkish economy will definitely become stronger,″ Economy Minister Kemal Dervis told journalists, adding that it was time to ``abandon unnecessary disputes.″

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