The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) issued a counter-statement regarding the Turkish government’s 2021 budget plans. According to the HDP’s statement, published in Gazete Karınca, the share of the budget that will reportedly be approved for the Ministry of National Security in Turkey will be increased, even as it will have a resultant negative impact on the lives of people struggling in poverty.
The annual planning for Turkey’s 2021 budget is expected to be discussed in the Turkish parliament on 7 December. The HDP stated: “If only Turkey could have solved the Kurdish question, then the budget spent on the war could have been productively spent instead for an equal and fair economy”.
The “Kurdish question”, it stated, “which is also a social, political, economic, cultural, psychological and moral question, has been the most crucial problem both for Turkey and the Middle East since 1984. Through 36 years of armed conflict, successive governments of Turkey have always handled the Kurdish question using policies that have centered on ‘security’. As long as the Kurdish question remains unresolved in this manner, Turkey will continue to bear the cost of spending vast amounts of money on the war: this all comes at a social, political, legal and democratic cost”.
The budget for ‘defense’ and ‘security’ remains a priority
According to the HDP’s statement, the financial cost of adopting a low-intensity war since 1984 will be reflected again in the country’s 2021 budget. According to data shared by the HDP:
• The share of military expenditure in the budget has been increased to 13% for the 2021 period: it was 12% during the 2020 period. The budget allocated to Turkey’s military expenditure in 2021 will be 20 billion Turkish lira (TRY).
• 148.5 billion TRY has been allocated to the Ministry of Interior, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the General Directorate of Security (EGM), the Gendarmerie General Command, the Ministry of National Defense and the Coast Guard Command in the 2021 budget. The amount allocated to the same institutions was 129 billion TRY in 2020.
• The Ministry of National Security’s (MSB’s) budget proposal has increased by 7.6 billion TRY to reach a total of 61.5 billion TRY in 2021. The budget share of the MSB had already increased by 12% in 2020, compared to the 2019 amount allocated to it.
• The budget for the MSB for 2021 exceeds the total budget for the Ministries of Justice, Environment and Urbanization, Energy and Natural Resources, Youth and Sports, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Forestry, Trade, Transport and Infrastructure, Industry and Technology.
The HDP noted that the share in the national budget that is spent on defense and military expenditure has increased gradually ever since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) took power. “The only exception to this increase was observed during the years of the ‘solution and negotiation’ process. In those years of 2014 and 2015, the budget of the MSB increased only by 1.4 billion TRY and 949 million TRY respectively. However, after the termination of the solution process, the budget of the MSB increased by 3.6 billion TRY in 2016 and 2.2 billion TRY in 2017”, reported the HDP.
Military expenditure in Turkey
According to the ‘Trends in World Military Expenditure’ report that is prepared annually by the Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace, Turkey is ranked 16th in the world with regard to highest military expenditure by countries worldwide. Countries that have exhibited similar trends in expenditure to Turkey include Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Canada.
The share of military expenditure in the Gross Domestic Product Per Capita of Turkey equals 2.7%, which takes Turkey above the average level of expenditure by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states.
Citizens taxes are the resources of the war budget
The impact of war on the economy cannot be easily calculated, the HDP notes. Yet, what is clear, according to the HDP is that: “The majority of the citizens are the ones who have to pay for the military budget, because citizens taxes are the resources of the war budget. The children of the majority die in this environment, whilst the majority pays the price for this war. The economy-politics of power works via these dialectics”.
The HDP shared its concerns that if the policies of war continue, “heavy taxes, increases in prices, increasingly unmanageable bills will continue to burden the shoulders of people living in Turkey. Billions and billions of TRY will continue to be expended in the wars in Syria, in Iraq, in Libya. On the eve of 2021, it is undeniably clear to see that political polarization in society has reached its uttermost level. In this context, the politics of peace is as vital as bread and water. In order to make way for an improvement in democracy, for freedom and justice, a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish question is an essential must”.