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Turkey Letter: 4 February 2019

Foreign Policy:

  • Turkey-US to discuss Syria, PKK and legal affairs
  • Syria ‘Safe Zone’ Should Be Entrusted to Turkey, Erdogan Says
  • Erdogan Says Turkey Has Maintained Contacts With Damascus
  • Turkey tells US its trade is in line with international laws: Turkish official
  • Turkey seeks life in prison for U.S. consulate worker: agency
  • S. Examining Turkey’s Trade with Venezuela, Official Says
  • Turkey Frees U.S. Consulate Employee

Economy & Energy:

  • Turkey’s inflation Jolted by Food as Two-Month Slowdown Ends
  • Turkey has a chance to become a regional gas hub
  • Turkey rules out asking for help from the IMF
  • Foreign arrival, tourism revenues in Turkey rose last year
  • Turkey Goes from Market Foe to Friend with Central Bank’s Tweaks

Domestic Politics:

  • Opposition DBP member jailed for terrorism
  • Turkey arrests suspect in 2015 U.S. consulate shooting: Anadolu
  • CHP appeals to voters of all parties for local polls, including HDP says, party leader
  • Erdoğan unveils manifesto for local election

 

Foreign Policy


Turkey-US to discuss Syria, PKK and legal affairs
A Turkish delegation will visit Washington on Feb. 5 for the meetings of Turkey-US working groups on Syria, fight against PKK and on consular issues. On Feb. 6 Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will participate in an anti-ISIL meeting in Washington and is likely to have talks with his American counterpart Pompeo.
Hurriyet, Turkey-US to discuss Syria, PKK and legal affairs, 4 February 2019


Turkey to provide $5 billion loan to Iraq: Çavuşoğlu
Turkey will provide around $5 billion in loans for the reconstruction of Iraq. The foreign minister said on Feb. 3. “We made the biggest commitment to Iraq,” Mevlut Çavuşoğlu told a meeting organized by the Beyoğlu Municipality in istanbul. “We will provide $5 billion credit,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that Turkish business people will utilize this loan for their projects in Iran.
Hurriyet, Turkey to provide $5 billion loan to Iraq: Çavuşoğlu, 3 February 2019


Syria ‘Safe Zone’ Should Be Entrusted to Turkey, Erdogan Says
Any “safe zone” or buffer to be declared in northern Syria should be managed by Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. “We cannot leave the safe zone to coalition forces,” Erdogan said Sunday in an interview with state-run TRT television. “Such a safe zone should be entrusted to Turkey. We’ll then provide the security of the zone.” Erdogan’s use of the term “coalition forces” was a short-hand for U.S. troops.
Bloomberg, Syria ‘Safe Zone’ Should Be Entrusted to Turkey, Erdogan Says, 4 February 2019


 Erdogan Says Turkey Has Maintained Contacts With Damascus
Turkey has maintained low-level contact with the Syrian government, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, even though Ankara has supported rebels who fought for years to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Erdogan has described Assad as a terrorist and said several times during Syria’s eight-year conflict that the Syrian leader must go. But with support from Russia and Iran, Assad has recaptured large parts of Syria from revel fighters, driving them from most of their former strongholds.
The New York Times, Erdogan Says Turkey Has Maintained Contacts With Damascus, February 3 2019


Turkey tells US its trade is in line with international laws: Turkish official
Turkish officials told their U.S. counterparts that Turkish trade is in accordance with international laws and regulations, a Turkish official said on Friday, a day after reports of Washington monitoring trade between Turkey and Venezuela.
Reuters, Turkey tells US its trade is in line with international laws: Turkish official, 1 February 2019


Turkey seeks life in prison for U.S. consulate worker: agency
A Turkish employee of the U.S. consulate in Istanbul could face life in jail if convicted of espionage and coup charges accepted by a court on Friday, state-owned Anadolu agency reported. Meton Topuz’ arrest in October 2017 exacerbated tensions between Washington and Ankara, already strained over U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, Turkey’s plan to buy a Russian defense system, and the U.S. jailing of an executive at a Turkish bank in an Iran sanctions-busting case.
Reuters, Turkey seeks life in prison for U.S. consulate worker: agency, 1 February 2019


 U.S. Examining Turkey’s Trade With Venezuela, Official Says
The U.S. government is looking in to the nature of Turkey’s trade with Venezuela and will take action if it finds that American sanctions are being violated, a senior U.S. official said. The issue will be probably be discussed when Marshall Billingslea, an assistant secretary ath the U.S. Treasury with responsibility for combating terrorist financing, meets Turkish authorities in Ankara on Friday, the official said, asking not to be identified. The trip was supposed to be largely about Iran, but trade ties with Venezuela will likely come up as well, he said.
Bloomberg, U.S. Examining Turkey’s Trade With Venezuela, Official Says, 31 January 2019


 Turkey Frees U.S. Consulate Employee
A Turkish court ordered the release of an American consular employee on Wednesday after almost two years in jail, while also convicting him of terror-related charges. Hamza Ulucay, a translator who had worked at the United States Consulate in the southern city of Adana for over 30 years, was one of three employees of American consulates in Turkey detained over the past two years, along with several American citizens, in a growing confrontation between the two countries.
The New York Times, Turkey Frees U.S. Consulate Employee, 30 January 2019



Economy & Energy


Turkey’s inflation Jolted by Food as Two-Month Slowdown Ends
A run-up in Turkey’s food costs halted a broader deceleration in price growth, complicating the start of monetary easing. Food and non-alcoholic beverage prices surged an annual 31 percent in January, the most since at least 2004, sending consumer inflation to 20.4 percent, according to data released by Turkstat on Monday. That exceeded the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists, which was for the headline gauge to stay unchanged at 20.3 percent.
Bloomberg, Turkey’s inflation Jolted by Food as Two-Month Slowdown Ends, 4 February 2019


Turkey has a chance to become a regional gas hub
Nine years have passed since a huge natural gas-field was discovered 130km offshore from Haifa in Israel. The Leviathan field is one of the largest discoveries made this century, with recoverable volumes estimated at 22tn cubic ft of gas according to the field’s operators Noble Energy and Delek. . . . One obvious cost-effective route remains: through an offshore pipeline that could run along the Levant coast and northwards to Turkey collecting resources from all the fields on the way.
Financial Times, Turkey has a chance to become a regional gas hub, 3 February 2019


Turkey rules out asking for help from the IMF
Turkey’s top economic body ruled out seeking support from the International Monetary Fund, in an effort to end market speculation that Ankara is in touch with the Washington-based lender to negotiate a rescue package. Those spreading the rumors are carrying out a propaganda war to “harm the Turkish government, the Turkish economy and Turkish people,” the Treasury and Finance Ministry said in an emailed statement on Friday. “This sick state of mind has reached a dangerous level.”
Bloomberg, Turkey rules out asking for help from the IMF, 1 February 2019


Foreign arrivals, tourism revenues in Turkey rose last year
The number of foreign tourists visiting Turkey increase by a strong 21.84 percent to a total of 39.5 million people in 2018, the country’s culture and Tourism Ministry announced on Jan. 31. Istanbul, Turkey’s world-famous touristic city, was the top destination with 13.4 million tourists, accounting for 34 percent of all foreign visitors.
Hurriyet, Foreign arrivals, tourism revenues in Turkey rose last year, 31 January 2019


Turkey Goes from Market Foe to Friend with Central Bank’s Tweaks
Turkey’s central bank is making clear it’s in no mood to antagonize the market any time soon. Hounded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last summer, its credibility was in tatters for waiting to aggressively raise interest rates to halt a run on the lira.
Bloomberg, Turkey Goes from Market Foe to Friend with Central Bank’s Tweaks, 29 January 2019



Domestic Politics


Opposition DBP member jailed for terrorism
A Turkish court on Feb. 1 sentenced opposition Democratic Regions Party (DBP) co-chair Sebahat Tuncel and ousted Diyabakir mayor Gültan Kişanak to more than 14 years in prison apiece on terrorism charges, according to judicial sources. A High Criminal Court in the eastern Malatya province found Kişanak and Tuncel guilty of terrorist organization membership and spreading terrorist propaganda, said the sources, who asked to not be named due to restrictions on talking to the media.
Hurriyet Daily News, Opposition DBP member jailed for terrorism, 2 February 2019


 Turkey arrests suspect in 2015: U.S. consulate shooting: Anadolu
Turkish security forces on Saturday arrested a suspect in an armed attack on the U.S. consulate in Istanbul nearly four years ago, the local governor’s office said. It said Hatice Kilic, a member of a far-left militant group, was detained in the Avcilar district of Istanbul after a joint operation by intelligence and anti-terrorism forces.
Reuters, Turkey arrests suspect in 2015: U.S. consulate shooting: Anadolu, 2 February 2019


CHP appeals to voters of all parties for local polls, including HDP says, party leader
The main opposition Republican’s People’s Party (CHP) has called on voters of all political parties to support it in the local elections, party leader Kılıçdaroğlu said on Feb. 1 when asked about cooperation with the peoples’ democratic party (HDP) regarding Turkey’s most populous provinces Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. “There is no alliance, but cooperation in this election. We cooperate with IYI [Good] party.
Hurriyet, CHP appeals to voters of all parties for local polls, including HDP says, party leader1 February 2019


 Erdoğan unveils manifesto for local election
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has revealed an 11-item election manifesto of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for the upcoming local elections on March 31. “We will prepare development models unique to geography, climate, history and the urban tissue of the cities,” Ergdoğan said on Jan. 31, unveiling his AKP’s manifesto titled “Work for the people, work from the heart.”
Hurriyet, Erdoğan unveils manifesto for local election, 31 January 2019