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Turkey cuts investment criteria for foreigners seeking citizenship

Turkey, US relations will strengthen with investment and trade: Erdogan

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan

ANKARA: Turkey yesterday made it easier for foreigners to become Turkish citizens by cutting the financial and investment criteria required for citizenship, according to a decree from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Foreigners now need only to have $500,000 deposits in Turkish banks, down from $3 million before while fixed capital investment was reduced from $2 million to $500,000 dollars, the decree published in the Official Gazette said. Meanwhile individuals can obtain citizenship if they employ 50 people, down from the previous 100, while those who own property worth $250,000 can become Turkish citizens, compared to the previous value necessary of $1 million.

The decree is the latest in a series by Erdogan in what appears to be a bid to prop up the embattled Turkish lira and the economy which slowed down in the second quarter. Last week, the president ordered that contracts for the sale, rent and leasing of property in or indexed to foreign currencies would not be allowed. The Turkish currency fell against the US dollar drastically in August after one of the most bitter spats between Ankara and Washington.

The lira lost nearly a quarter in value against the greenback in August. But there had been investor concerns over domestic economic policy and Erdogan’s continued opposition to high interest rates, although the central bank aggressively hiked its main policy rate 6.25 percent to 24 percent last week.

Erdogan later met representatives of American companies working in Turkey at his presidential palace in Ankara. He met 30 senior executives, according to HaberTurk daily, including representatives from Microsoft and Google. Relations between Washington and Ankara will strengthen with investment and trade, Erdogan told the representatives. The two countries are at odds over issues including Washington’s policy in Syria, Ankara’s quest for the extradition of a Muslim cleric blamed for failed coup in 2016 and Washington’s concerns about US citizens and embassy staff detained in Turkey.

The arrest and detention of Andrew Brunson, a US Christian pastor who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, deepened the rift and prompted President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on Turkey and double trade tariffs, exacerbating a slide in Turkey’s lira currency. In retaliation, Turkey doubled tariffs on some US imports including alcohol, cars and tobacco. “I believe our strategic partnership with the United States will strengthen further with investment and trade despite all the ups and downs,” Erdogan said, according to the text seen by Reuters. The event for US businesses operating in Turkey was closed to the media.

Erdogan said Turkey would continue to take every step so that businesses will not be harmed by the trade measures and would not compromise on free market principles, according to the text. “We encouraged the business world to cooperate further while we are seeking ways to solve our problems via diplomacy with our counterparts,” Erdogan said. “We would never want you to be negatively impacted or your projects to be obstructed due to the issues we are having with the current American government. We will continue to take necessary steps,” Erdogan said. – Agencies

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