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Turkey Letter: 25 February 2019

Foreign Policy:

  • Simone Kaslowski elected TÜSİAD president
  • Turkey, Britain raise China’s treatment of Uighurs at U.N. rights forum
  • Erdogan says safe zone on Syria border must be under Turkey’s control
  • Turkey condemns European parliament committee call to suspend accession
  • Turkey’s Erdogan, Trump discussed U.S. withdrawal from Syria in phone call: state media
  • Top Turkish, U.S. defense officials to meet on Syria troop exit

Economy & Energy:

  • Turkey set to begin oil and gas drilling off Cyprus
  • Turkish food inflation slows after cut-price veggie sales
  • S&P sees Turkish lira falling till 2022, bad loan levels doubling
  • Turkey to invest $23 million for TurkStream in 2019

Domestic Politics:

  • Ruling AKP’s candidate Mustafa Sentop elected Turkish parliament speaker
  • Turkey orders 295 military personnel arrested over Gulen links
  • Turkish court upholds Cumhuriyet newspaper convictions


Foreign Policy

 

Simone Kaslowski elected TÜSİAD president
The 49th General Assembly of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) convened in Istanbul today and elected a new Board of Directors. Simone Kaslowski was elected President of TÜSİAD. Murat Özyeğin, Mehmet Tara and Bahadır Balkır were elected Vice Presidents. Tuncay Özilhan has been re-elected President of the High Advisory Council of TÜSİAD.
TÜSİAD US, Simone Kaslowski elected TÜSİAD president, 20 February 2019


Turkey, Britain raise China’s treatment of Uighurs at U.N. rights forum
Turkey and Britain voiced concern on Monday at China’s alleged mistreatment of Uighurs and other Muslims in its Xinjiang region, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu calling on Beijing to protect freedom of religion and cultural identity.Reuters, Turkey, Britain raise China’s treatment of Uighurs at U.N. rights forum, 25 February 2019


 Erdogan says safe zone on Syria border must be under Turkey’s control
Any safe zone along Turkey’s border with Syria must be under Turkish control, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk.
Reuters, Erdogan says safe zone on Syria border must be under Turkey’s control, 23 February 2019


 Turkey condemns European parliament committee call to suspend accession
Turkey criticized on Thursday as “unacceptable” a vote by the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee calling for the suspension of EU accession negotiations with it. The Foreign Affairs Committee called on the European Commission and member states on Wednesday to formally suspend EU accession negotiations with Turkey, citing disregard for human rights and civil liberties, influence on the judiciary, and disputes over territory with Cyprus and other neighbors.
Reuters, Turkey condemns European parliament committee call to suspend accession, 22 February 2019


Turkey’s Erdogan, Trump discussed U.S. withdrawal from Syria in phone call: state media
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed in a phone call on Thursday to carry out the U.S. military withdrawal from Syria in line with their mutual interests, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said. In December, Trump confounded his own national security team with a surprise decision to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, declaring that Islamic State had been defeated there.
Reuters, Turkey’s Erdogan, Trump discussed U.S. withdrawal from Syria in phone call: state media, 21 February 2019


Top Turkish, U.S. defense officials to meet on Syria troop exit
Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar will meet his acting U.S. counterpart Pat Shanahan in Washington this week to discuss the pullout of American troops from Syria and Ankara’s concerns over U.S.-backed Kurdish forces there. Turkey is increasingly impatient over the delayed U.S. withdrawal that’s holding up its plans to create a safe zone inside Syria to ward against security threats from Kurdish fighters it regards as an offshoot of the Kurdish separatist PKK group it’s battled for decades.
Bloomberg, Top Turkish, U.S. defense officials to meet on Syria troop exit, 21 February 2019



Economy & Energy

 

Turkey set to begin oil and gas drilling off Cyprus
Turkey will begin drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus in coming days, state-owned news agency Anadolu reported Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying on Thursday, a move that could stoke tensions with neighbouring Cyprus and Greece. Turkey and the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.
Reuters, Turkey set to begin oil and gas drilling off Cyprus, 21 February 2019


Turkish food inflation slows after cut-price veggie sales
Sales of vegetables and fruit at discounted prices by Turkish municipalities are proving to be more than a pre-election stunt to boost President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party. Annual food inflation will likely be slower in February than in the previous month after state-run stalls in large cities opened last week, a Turkish official familiar with the figures said on Wednesday. Food and non-alcoholic beverage prices surged an annual 31 percent in January, keeping consumer inflation above 20 percent.
Bloomberg, Turkish food inflation slows after cut-price veggie sales, 20 February 2019


 S&P sees Turkish lira falling till 2022, bad loan levels doubling
Credit rating firm S&P Global expects Turkey’s lira to fall steadily for the next three years and the level of bad bank loans to double to 8 percent in the next 12 months. “We see the currency steadily depreciating all the way to 2022” S&P sovereign analyst, Maxim Rybnikov, said during a webcast question and answer session on Tuesday.
Reuters, S&P sees Turkish lira falling till 2022, bad loan levels doubling, 19 February 2019


 Turkey to invest $23 million for TurkStream in 2019
Turkey plans to invest 122 million Turkish Liras in 2019, equivalent to around $23 million, for the land section on Turkish soil of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline, according to the government’s 2019 investment plan released on Feb. 18. According to the official announcement, the Turkish government will spend a total of 217.91 million liras for the project on Turkish soil.
Hurriyet, Turkey to invest $23 million for TurkStream in 2019, 19 February 2019



Domestic Politics

 

Ruling AKP’s candidate Mustafa Sentop elected Turkish parliament speaker
Turkish Grand National Assembly’s new speaker was elected on Feb. 24 to replace resigning Binali Yıldırım, who is now running for Istanbul mayor in the upcoming March 31 local elections. The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate Mustafa Şentop got 336 votes out of 600 seats in parliament in the third round of the election, qualifying to be the 29th speaker of the Turkish parliament.
Hurriyet, Ruling AKP’s candidate Mustafa Sentop elected Turkish parliament speaker, 24 February 2019


 Turkey orders 295 military personnel arrested over Gulen links
Turkey ordered the arrest of 295 serving military personnel on Friday, the Istanbul prosecutor’s office said, accusing them of links to the network of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara says orchestrated a 2016 attempted coup. Those facing detention included three colonels, eight majors and 10 lieutenants, with around half of the suspects being in the army and the remainder in other military forces including the navy and air force, the statement said.
New York Times, Turkey orders 295 military 295 military personnel arrested over Gulen links, 21 February 2019


Turkish court upholds Cumhuriyet newspaper convictions
An appeals court in Turkey has upheld the convictions of 14 journalists and senior staff members of a prominent opposition newspaper. Cumhuriyet newspaper said six staff members were ordered to jail because their appeals are exhausted, while those with longer sentences can appeal further to the supreme court.
New York Times, Turkish court upholds Cumhuriyet newspaper convictions, 19 February 2019