How did Atatürk deal with the Great Depression, the greatest economic crisis in history?

SHAFAQNA Türkiye – There is something that we must not miss in his policies: no matter how realistic the goals of the policy, internal and external factors determine the chances of success. For this reason Economic policy of Atatürk To understand this, it is necessary to look at the economic situation of Republican Turkey.

The economy that the Republic took over has not changed at all, The Ottoman Empire was an agricultural society. In the early years of the republic, an economy based on agriculture continued. This is why Atatürk had to implement a policy regarding agriculture, and this is how it happened.

Production in agriculture was carried out primitively.

The peasants themselves consumed what they grew in their fields. Since there was no source that would allow products to enter the markets, cities could only meet their food needs at the expense of nearby regions. The railway is very bad, even the best roads worked only on carts with oxen.

Almost all internal and external trade was in the hands of minorities. This power, obtained by foreign states, prevented the establishment of industry in Anatolia. The needs of the Turks in industrial products were also met through imports. It is too nuts, raisins, figs, tobacco as a limited amount of agricultural products.

Atatürk expressed his opinion on economic policy at the Economic Congress in Izmir.

Izmir Economic Congress

Atatürk’s speech on economics at the opening of the congress was far ahead of its time, and it would have been a great honor to convene such a congress even before a republic was proclaimed. foresight it’s an icon. (February 17, 1923)

Atatürk bases the economy on two concepts: citizenship and full independence. It should be noted that although these principles have changed and evolved over time, they have never been compromised.

Atatürk expresses the importance of economy in the following words:

Ataturk and agriculture

“What is directly related to the life of a nation is the economic situation of that nation. This truth, left over from the filter of history and experience, has manifested itself in its entirety in our national life and national history. Really If you study Turkish history, it immediately becomes clear that the causes of decline and collapse are nothing but economic problems.

The only reason why the economy is not given the necessary importance is because The Ottomans had no national government. says it is.

Ataturk believed that decisions in the economic sphere should be made by the people. Therefore, he considered it expedient that the decisions to be made at the Economic Congress should be taken by the people.

According to this principle, representatives of the people of all provinces also arrived at the congress. Declaring that there can be no question of political independence without economic independence, Atatürk pronounced the following sentences:There is the following principle of complete independence: national sovereignty. It must also be backed by economic superiority. Political and military victories, no matter how great they may be, if they are not crowned with economic victories, the successes will not survive and will soon come to naught.

Atatürk, who ended the War of Independence with victory, He thought he would prove this success in Lausanne.. However, he faced pressure from the imperialist countries to continue exploiting them in the economy. These events are very important for determining Atatürk’s economic policy.

Ataturk tries to explain that the privileges imposed on the Ottoman Empire by the imperialists turned the country into a colonial state.


“The State cannot tax foreigners with the tax it imposes on its citizens; a state denied the right to regulate its own customs duties and any taxes; a state which, by its laws, cannot exercise its jurisdiction over aliens; this state cannot be called independent. Intervention in the life of the state and the nation is even more. The state was not free in such matters as the construction of railways, for example, the construction of factories, which were among the economic needs of the nation. Therefore, when they tried to start something, in spite of everything, outsiders interfered in the matter. Can a state that cannot support itself be independent?

In the early years of the republic, the priority given to private enterprise was replaced after 1932. state politics took. The reason for this is the idea that a private enterprise without sufficient capital cannot cope with this task alone.

The period between 1923 and 1932 was a period of policy that gave priority to private enterprise.

ataturk speech in parliament

During this period, the state intervened in the economy. These interventions were aimed at spreading monopolies among privileged companies and accelerating the accumulation of private capital. In 1924, Ishbank was founded. However, the government showed its willingness to develop a class of domestic capitalists. The Industrial Encouragement Act, passed in 1927, provided extensive protections and exemptions for the private domestic industry. In particular, this law plays a very important role in the development of private industry. Monopolies and factories since 1915, Industry and factories established in 1925 Maadin Bank captured

The absence of a Central Bank in the country and the fact that all operations were carried out by the Ottoman Bank did not allow the state to conduct monetary policy and establish control over it.

Ottoman bank

At the Izmir Economic Congress the abolition of the tithe tax, which is an important source of state income and deprived the state of important revenues. Importers, meanwhile, produced large volumes of imports, and the foreign trade deficit, which had been in constant deficit since 1923, increased more and more. The Ottoman debts that had begun to be paid also worsened this situation. Thus, in 1929 there was a rapid fall in the external value of the Turkish lira. It started in the US and spread around the world in the same year. The Great Depression As a result, the world economy collapsed.

commissioned by Atatürk Commentary on “statism” properly: “The principle of statism we apply is not a system like communism or collectivism, which takes away from man all the possibilities of production and distribution, seeks to control all matters of the nation and does not allow private enterprise and individual activity in the sphere of the economy. .“The great leader had a very rational and realistic approach. You can see it in the descriptions too.

The crisis of 1929 showed what was lacking in Turkey: capital was scarce and insufficient. Therefore, the state had to invest itself, not manage the economy. Ataturk did what was necessary.

Prevent the depreciation of the Turkish lira In 1930, the Turkish Currency Value Protection Law was passed. In the same year, the Law on the Prohibition of Counterfeiting in Trade and the Control and Protection of Exports was passed to regulate trade. The central bank was founded in 1930, and in 1933 a law was passed establishing the Sümerbank to secure projects and finance the industry that the state was to create.

April 20, 1931 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who formed the basis of republican politics, He also proclaimed 6 principles: republicanism, nationalism, populism, secularism, statism and revolutionism. Shortly after proclaiming these principles, he put forward an economic policy based on statism. The goal of this policy was planned industrialization.

Thanks to the five-year industrial plan, Turkey became the first country among the developing countries to take part in the planned development.

in May 1932 An interest-free loan agreement for 20 years worth $8 million was signed with the Soviet Union.. This is the first debt for Turkey, and for 25 years after that there was no more debt. This loan was also to be used for Soviet materials for sugar mills and weaving mills. Sümerbank took over the project and the financing of the plan. In fact, this plan provides for the processing of domestic products; The targets were also the production of 6 sub-sectors (chemical, paper and pulp, mining, textile, ceramics, metallurgical).

While the implementation of the First Industrial Plan continues In 1936, at the direction of Atatürk, a second industrial plan was drawn up. preparation has begun. However II. With the Second World War, the plan changed a little: it was transferred to the “Economic Defense Plan”. The policy of statism initiated by Atatürk gradually lost its force, and after 1945 this policy was abandoned.

The success of the practices that Atatürk created from nothing with his clever moves and that saved the state, bogged down in the debt swamp inherited by the Ottoman Empire, from the global crisis is obvious. While the whole world was in a depression as a result of the economic crisis of 1929, Türkiye began national industrialization in the 1930s.It soon reached an average annual growth of 3.5%, and between 1933 and 1939, 8.1%. He closed the trade deficit and nationalized the railways, liquidating the favored foreign companies that had come from the time of the Ottoman Empire. Banks such as Sümerbank, Etibank and Denizcilik Bank, which have an important place in our economy, have been established and the basis of Turkish industry has been developed to the maximum.

The whole world with the economic crisis While he was fighting, Atatürk was a great leader and political genius who helped turn Turkey into an industrial society.

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