Did Turkey’s President Say “We Are In A War Against Bitcoin”? An Investigation

Did Turkey’s President Say “We Are In A War Against Bitcoin”? An Investigation

September 21, 2021

Is President Erdogan so out of touch with what’s happening around him that he declared war against Bitcoin? Or is this a case of “lost in translation” and quotes out of context? An article titled “We are in a war against bitcoin,” says Turkey’s president” has been making the rounds over at Bitcoin-Twitter, receiving both mockery and rightful criticism. However, we noticed a crucial detail: the article doesn’t contain a direct quote from Erdogan. That’s suspect.

Related Reading | New To Bitcoin? Learn To Trade Crypto With The NewsBTC Trading Course

Armed with an iron will and Google Translate, NewsBTC explored the issue and came to unexpected conclusions. 

Let’s fall into the rabbit hole.

“When President Erdogan fired the central bank president in March, sending the Turkish lira plummeting against the dollar, Google searches for the term “bitcoin” soared across the country.”

The tighter politicians squeeze, the faster #Bitcoin succeeds.https://t.co/F9wmVfl06C

— Robert Breedlove (@Breedlove22) September 20, 2021

Is It War Against Bitcoin Or War Against Cryptocurrencies? 

The original article cited a mainstream and generally trusted source, an article in Turkish at Bloomberght titled “Erdogan: We have a separate war against cryptocurrencies.” Reportedly, the president held a Youth Meeting Program, so his audience for this was students from all over the country. They were discussing the Digital Turkish Lira, the country’s proposed CBDC, and one of the participants asked about their current views on cryptocurrencies:

“Erdoğan said that they do not have a problem of opening up to crypto money, on the contrary, they have a separate war and struggle against them.

Erdogan said, “We will not give them such a premium, nor will we. Because we will continue on our way with our money, which is our fundamental identity in this matter.”

He never even mentions a war against Bitcoin. Remember, this is a Google translation and some info might’ve been lost. However, the discrepancies are there. The President says they “do not have a problem” with crypto, but that “on the contrary, they have a separate war and struggle against them.” On the contrary to what? And do notice, it’s not a direct quote either. In the actual Erdogan quote, he says nothing about a war against Bitcoin.

We need more data. Let’s consult other sources.

Remember, "We, the people", does not mean "We – the state".
Trying to fight a technology that empowers people is a sure way to be on the losing side of history.

— Jeff Booth (@JeffBooth) September 20, 2021

What Did President Erdogan Say Exactly?

A quick search leads us to The New Arab. They don’t quote the President directly, but their translation makes much clearer the intent of what he said:

“Erdogan claimed that the country “definitely” doesn’t have a problem with the spread of digital assets.     

However, that Turkey would carry on with its own money, which he believes is part of the national identity.”

They don’t have a problem with the spread of digital assets because they’re preparing their CBDC, and their way to sell it is that money is “part of the national identity.” Got it. But, what about this war against Bitcoin thing?

A second search leads us to Newsbit, who seemingly quote a much more clear-headed President Erdogan directly:

“We have absolutely no intention of embracing cryptocurrencies,” the president replied, adding: “On the contrary, we have a war against them. We would never support cryptocurrencies. Because we continue with our own currency that has its own identity.”

Ok, now we know that Erdogan never said anything about a war against Bitcoin and always referred to cryptocurrencies. And that, in code, he was always talking about the Digital Turkish Lira. However, did he really say all that? That quote seems suspiciously close to the original Bloomberg quote, and that one wasn’t literal. If the President said everything that clearly, why wouldn’t Bloomberg quote him?

BTC price chart for 09/20/2021 on Exmo | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com

Time To Consult Primary Sources

Luckily for us, Newsbit linked to the Anadolu Agency, a Turkish state-run news agency. This is as close to primary sources as we’re going to get. A report on the whole event that only casually mentions cryptocurrencies at the end. Is the quote present in that report? What did President Erdogan say exactly? Well, according to the Anadolu Agency:

“Erdoğan said that they do not have a problem of opening up to crypto money, on the contrary, they have a separate war and struggle against them.

Erdogan said, “We will not give them such a premium, nor will we. Because we will continue on our way with our money, which is our fundamental identity in this matter.”

Related Reading | Turkey’s Economic Turmoil Shows Bitcoin Is a Better Bet Than Emerging Markets

That’s right! The same exact quote with the same exact wording that Bloomberg used at the beginning. So, Bloomberg literally copied and pasted their article. And Newsbit’s supposed quote is just a rewording of that phrase. We don’t know exactly what President Erdogan said, but at least his intention is clear: Yes to his CBDC. War on cryptocurrencies. And we know for sure he never said anything about a war against Bitcoin.

Cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin are not synonymous, journalists.

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