Clinton says US welcomes Turkey as leader in the region

July 19, 2011
US Secretary of State Clinton, during talks with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, President Gul and Foreign Minister Davutoglu July 16, said that the US welcomes Turkey as a rising leader in the region. She reiterated
the “rock solid and unwavering” commitment of the US to the security of Turkey. She also called on Turkey to address concerns over human rights abuses and limits on freedom of expression.

In Istanbul for the July 15 contact group meeting on Libya, Secretary Clinton also held bilateral discussions with Prime Minster Erdogan and Foreign Minister Davutoglu touching on a broad range of foreign and domestic issues.

Source: Today’s Zaman
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Pressure on İMKB continues amid CAD, Greek debt worries

June 17, 2011
Turkey’s national stock exchange is facing serious pressure from investors as concerns over its current account deficit (CAD) and Greece’s debt crisis are weighing down the market. Concern stemming from the lack of a government announcement outlining precautionary measures to reduce the CAD, which sharply exceeded forecasts by increasing 113.82 percent to $29.64 billion in the first four months of this year, has led to a drop in investor risk appetite.

Turkey’s growing current account deficit is the largest obstacle to growth for the country’s economy. The Turkish Central Bank will likely address the CAD with further monetary policy adjustments.

Source: Today’s Zaman

CHP leader says state can talk to PKK leader if beneficial for country

June 17, 2011
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said he would not oppose communicating with the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan. However, he also said he wants the government to share what is being discussed with the PKK leader during these meetings.

The opposition Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) recent allegations suggesting that the government met with the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, has been a heated issue in Turkey. In separate action, lawyers representing Ocalan said June 17 that the PKK would “prolong” its unilateral ceasefire pending clarification of the AKP’s resumed democracy initiative.

Source: Today’s Zaman

Mavi Marmara not joining Gaza flotilla for technical reasons, IHH says

June 17, 2011
Bülent Yıldırım, who heads the Turkish Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH), said the Mavi Marmara will not be able to make the trip to Gaza because there is too much damage to the ship, which was raided by Israeli commandos during last year’s flotilla. Yıldırım said the İHH decision not to send the Mavi Marmara to Gaza had nothing to do with the government, emphasizing that it is a purely technical decision.

Additionally, an İHH spokesman signaled this week that the group might cancel plans to travel to Gaza given new developments in the region, particularly the crisis in neighboring Syria. The İHH will still be a part of the international group that organized the Gaza mission by placing activists from the IHH on other ships in the flotilla.

Source: Today’s Zaman

Ankara mulls opening a humanitarian corridor into Syria

June 17, 2011
A Foreign Ministry official has said that Ankara will supply humanitarian aid for thousands of Syrian refugees massing at Turkey’s border and could consider opening a corridor inside the Arab republic in response to the uprising there.

Turkey has begun to take a more active role in aiding opponents of the Assad regime, calling openly for sweeping reform of the Syrian political system, offering refuge and aid to Syrian refugees, and even allowing Syrian military officers to defect to Turkey.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

Turkey calls for ‘shock therapy’ reforms in Syria

May 27, 2011
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said May 26 that Syrian President al-Assad’s failure to implement reforms promptly now requires him to engage in “shock therapy” in order to restore trust.  He continued that “If Syria’s President Al-Asad had started the reforms in January …, the disease could have been treated in the early stages. But now, only shock therapy can help.”

Turkish leaders have good relations with Syria but are worried that Assad is losing control. Davutoğlu and Prime Minister Erdoğan recently have questioned whether the Syrian leader is willing and/or able to carrying out reforms, given opposition from the Syrian state apparatus.

Source: Today’s Zaman

Turkish lira loses against dollar and euro

May 27, 2011
On May 26, the Turkish lira further depreciated against the US dollar and Euro, the dollar trading at 1.6060 lira, the Euro at 2.2630 lira.

A strong lira has been a hallmark of the AKP Government.  A weaker lira, on the other hand, is greatly favored by Turkey’s exporters and should begin positively to affect the current account deficit.

Source: Today’s Zaman

Faltering policy experiment ups stakes for Turkey

May 27, 2011
According to a number of economic analysts, Turkey’s laggard balance of payments deficit and an exodus of foreign investors suggest its unorthodox monetary policy experiment may have gone too far, requiring major changes.  According to a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch poll, results showed equity fund managers are underweight in Turkey for the first time in three years. A separate JPMorgan survey showed foreigners cut Turkish debt and currency exposure in May and went significantly underweight on its bonds.  A leading economist and hedge fund manager noted that “there are very few countries in the world that run such a large current account deficit or are as vulnerable as Turkey to the withdrawal of capital from emerging markets.”

Turkey’s Central Bank six months ago surprised markets with an unorthodox monetary policy that paired a low interest rate with a sixty percent hike in banks’ required reserve ratios. It has not proven successful. The view is that Turkey will return to more orthodox policies following the elections June 12.

Source: Today’s Zaman

Turkish FM warns Israel not to repeat last year’s flotilla ‘mistake’

May 27, 2011
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu warned Israel May 26 not to repeat the “same mistake” with the aid flotilla set to depart for Gaza next month.  In a televised interview,  Davutoğlu referred to the fatal raid on the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara last May 31, during which 8 Turks and one Turkish-American were killed.  The Minister noted that the Israeli Government has asked the Turkish Government to help avert a crisis of similar nature for the flotilla set to depart next month.  Davutoğlu also noted that Israel should recognize the new Palestinian unity administration and lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

This reprise of the tragic Gaza aid flotilla of last year carries potential for re-igniting and deepening the Turkey-Israel crisis of last year.  On the other hand, conditions are significantly different this year, and both Turkey and Israel have tempered their remarks in an effort not to worsen the already-strained relationship.  Post-election, it is reasonable to expect Turkey and Israel to handle Gaza Aid-II with sensitivity and care.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

“Sex tapes” poison Turkish politics

May 23, 2011
Following the release of a sex tape featuring MHP deputy leader Mehmet Ekici on May 21, with an announcement that fellow deputy leader Osman Çakır would be next, six senior members of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) resigned over the weekend.  This brings the total of resignations in the past month to 10, including the Secretary General and two party deputies.

The source of the tapes is unknown, but the effect is to discredit the MHP and perhaps drive its voter support in the June 12 elections below the 10 percent threshold for representation in Parliament. In such an event, it is probable that the governing AK Party would be the beneficiary.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News