Kemal Dervis, Who Eased Turkey’s Economic Crisis, Dies at 74

Kemal Dervis, the economist who helped rescue his homeland Turkey from an economic crisis earlier this century and later became the first country to receive development assistance from the United Nations Development Programme, has died. Sunday in Bethesda, Maryland. he was 74 years old.

The Brookings Institution, where Mr. Darvis served as director and deputy director of the Global Economic Development Program and was a non-resident fellow, confirmed his death.Turkish state news agency Anadolu Said He died of an unspecified illness.

After 20 years in various positions at the World Bank, Mr. Darvis saw Turkey’s lira plummet in value in early 2001 as prices began to soar. Journalist Andrew Finkel wrote in April of the same year that “Turks carry the world’s highest denomination note, the 10 million lira note, in their wallets, but it is worth well below $10 after the recent tragedy.” rice field.

The crisis is said to have been sparked by disagreements between Turkish President Ahmet Nekhdet Sezer and Prime Minister Bulent Ecebit over the pace of anti-corruption efforts. Banks and financial markets reacted badly to the TIF. The meltdown progressed quickly, and Mr. Darvis, then vice president of the World Bank, was seen as a savior.

“Ecebit, who was prime minister at the time, called Darvis to come help the country as a minister.” M. Hakan YavuzAn expert on Turkey and a professor of political science at the University of Utah said in an email. “He agreed and came to serve the country. His economic policy, from 2002 he laid the foundation for major economic development in Turkey until 2020.”

Mr. Darvis took up the newly created post of economy minister. A Huliette headline said “Mr Darvis’ name was enough” to defuse the crisis, noting that his appointment announcement boosted the market and eased the one-day interest rate.

But dealing with the crisis was actually much more complicated. That would have required Mr. Darvis to negotiate a loan with the International Monetary Fund, push for organizational change in the banking system, curb corruption, and, at first, inflict considerable pain through spending cuts.

Mr. Darvis said in mid-April 2001, “Don’t count on me for policies that will save us only today. You can’t dynamite our future to save today.”

The professor’s policies ultimately resulted in a period of sustained economic stability, Yavuz said, until just a few years ago when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew from Mr Darvis’ policies, allowing corruption to run rampant. said.

Mr. Darvis remained in the ministry for just over a year before running for Congress. He won and continued his service at the institution until 2005. That year, Secretary-General Kofi Annan chose him to head the United Nations Development Office, which works to help countries end poverty and build sustainable economies.

This was a historic appointment. Mr. Darvis was the first person from a recipient country to lead the office. (Previous administrators were American or British.)

Mr. Darvis and Mr. Yavuz said they were “always focused on the social impact of economic policy.”

“As head of the United Nations Development Programme, he had a deep sense of support and care for the most vulnerable parts of the population,” he said, adding that Mr. Darvis wanted to protect them from the negative effects of economic policy. He added that he was.

He focused on how globalization is affecting the poor. He also highlighted the projected impacts of climate change, which will particularly affect the poor in many countries, he said.

“His political identity was that of a social democrat,” Professor Yawse added, adding, “He wants to see a ‘social market’ where the state plays an important role in helping the poor and needy. because I thought

After four years at the United Nations, Mr. Darvis joined Brookings to continue his work on how the economy benefits everyone.

“He advanced a strong research agenda to strengthen the engines of global growth and ensure that no one is left behind, and proposed policies on the future of global governance and the technological transformation of the global economy,” the institution said in a statement. ‘ said. It has a particular focus on productivity, inclusiveness, sustainability and international cooperation. ”

Kemal Dervis was born on January 10, 1949 in Istanbul. He received his bachelor’s degree from his London School of Economics in 1968 and his master’s degree in economics from the same school in 1970. He received his doctorate in 1973. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and taught there and at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey in the 1970s.

Information about survivors was not immediately available.

Professor Yavuz said Mr Darvis was frequently criticized. Criticism came not only from Turkish merchants, who felt that Mr. Darvis’ changes in 2001 were not effective enough, but also from leftists, Islamists and nationalists who thought Mr. Darvis was not left-wing enough. It is said that it was done. He was a pawn of Western imperialism. But Darvis saw the big picture throughout, he said.

“He was interested in building a socio-economic system that would allow all citizens to reach their full potential,” he said.

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