Many people are suffering from the high prices in Turkey and even long queues of people can be seen in front of the municipality kiosks selling cheaper bread. Young people dream of leaving the country and starting a new life in the ‘west’ since they see no future for themselves in Turkey.
This is Turkey in 2021 and street interviews reveal the poverty that is so evident amongst people, yet which the government is trying to conceal.
Even YouTubers doing street interviews in Turkey were placed under house arrest and an international travel ban was imposed on them last week.
A Yol TV reporter spoke to people in the streets, and asked them to comment on statements by officials that there is no economic crisis in Turkey.
“How do we keep living? Well, we just eat potatoes, onions. Who will we trust? Is there someone we can trust? Nobody trusts anybody. Because there is no money. I have one lira in my pocket,” said one person to the reporter, adding that the poverty cannot be hidden anymore.
“I’m looking at the money in my pocket. How much money we have in our pockets. I don’t care if the government has built roads and bridges. It’s none of my business. I’m looking at the money in my pocket. My party is my pocket,” said another member of the public who criticised the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in power.
State officials have repeatedly cited the examples of long gas queues that were observed during the 1970’s and 1980’s to suggest that the Turkey of today is much better than it was then. Many people contest this viewpoint.
“I react to this claim when they say, ‘You don’t know, there were gas queues 30 years and 50 years ago. Have they forgotten that they waited in long cucumber queues when it was rationed two years ago?,” said one person.
Another citizen added: “I think we have returned back to 30 years ago. (…) It’s impossible to live on with a minimum wage. Rents are 2,000 Turkish Lira (TL). Previously, if one person had received 100 Turkish Lira, they could spend half the money and save the other half. Now, if a person earns 5,000 TL, they also have a debt of 5,000 TL to pay. There used to be gas queues, now it’s happening again. You can’t buy more than a kilo of flour at a grocery store.”
Today, in Turkey, it is a common idea among youth to leave the country and start a new life in western countries. Teachers and engineers are going to Europe to work in the service sector there.
“It is better to be a dishwasher in a foreign country than to be a doctor in Turkey. If Turkey’s economy is so good, why is everyone talking about the economy then?,” asked one interviewee.
A high school student also expressed concern both for herself and her family: “I think the economy is really bad. I am a student. I’m going to high school here. I get money from my family, but it’s never enough. My parents haven’t been paid their wages for two weeks.”
A statement from another young woman revealed the predicament many youth face in Turkey today: “I wake up crying in the morning and go the bed every night crying. I am looking for a job every day. That’s exactly how the economy is. A young person is expected to walk around cheerfully in such sunny weather and meet with their friends. But I am crying all the time. This is the economy right now.”