June 15, 2003 Sunday
'How did You Manage to Be Free of IMF?'
By Mustafa Unal
MALAYSIA, June 14, 2003 - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan were warmly received by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammed in Kuala Lumpur.
While Muhammed was praising Turkey's foreign policy during the Iraq war, Erdogan asked how Turkey could be free of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Turning to State Minister for Economy Ali Babacan, Erdogan said jokingly: "Please explain so that Ali can know how [as well]. Ali, do take some good notes."
The Malaysian Prime Minister answered: "The IMF came and offered us a two year stand-by deal during our most troubled period. But, we did not accept it. We already know that the countries dealing with the IMF are not in good shape. We didn't accept the IMF program or its offers of aid. We tried to overcome troubled times on our own."
The Prime Minister did do some business, as well. Erdogan has provided $60-million in credit for the Aydin and Bodrum peninsula irrigation project and for 5 thermal-power plants to be constructed in Saray, Goynuk, Orta, Tufanbeyli and Karliova. Turkey reciprocated by answering Malaysia's call for armored vehicles and ammunition to improve its army.
On her first official foreign visit, Emine Erdogan went to a foster home for 183 children. She kissed the children despite warnings not to, because of SARS.
Having visited 14 European countries, USA, Russia, China and Turkic Republics so far, it is the first time Erdogan has included his wife in the official protocol.
Following Malaysia, Erdogan is expected to arrive in Pakistan today.