• Turkey seeks to form working group for U.S. free-trade deal
• Israeli visit another sign of thaw with Turkey
• U.S. releases annual Human Rights Report
• Taliban captures at least 9, many from Turkey, from crashed helicopter in Afghanistan
• Turkey adopts migration and asylum law
ECONOMY / ENERGY
• Turkey, seeking growth, cuts rates
• The Turkish economy: opportunities and challenges
• U.S. Foreign Policy towards the Middle East during the second term of President Obama
Turkey seeks to form working group for U.S. free-trade deal
Turkey’s prime minister will seek to form a working group to draft a free-trade agreement with the U.S. during a state visit in May, marking an effort to counter an increasingly onerous customs deal with the European Union, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said last week.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also reiterated Turkey’s position during his statements at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on National Security and Foreign Policy Priorities in the Fiscal Year 2014 International Affairs Budget. Kerry said, “Turkey expressed desire to do parallel negotiations, they do not want to be left out.”
President Obama will welcome Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for talks on May 16. In addition to trade and economic cooperation, topics of discussion will include Syria and counterterrorism.
White House Press Briefing, 5 April 2013, Statement by the Press Secretary on the visit of Prime Minister Erdoğan of Turkey
Voice of America, 5 April 2013, Obama to host leaders from Turkey, Jordan, Gulf States
Wall Street Journal, 16 April 2013, Turkey seeks to form working group for U.S. free-trade deal
Voice of America, 19 April 2013, Kerry travels to Turkey for Syrian opposition meeting
Israeli visit another sign of thaw with Turkey
An Israeli delegation visited Turkey for the first time in three years in another sign of thawing relations since the United States brokered a breakthrough in March. The delegation led by the Israeli prime minister’s national security adviser Yaakov Amidror met with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu for discussions that could lead to an exchange of ambassadors between the two countries and other diplomatic moves.
Speaking to reporters at the end of a Turkish Cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said the two sides had agreed on “the methods and principles, the basics and parameters” for working out compensation payments for the victims of a deadly 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, but said the amount to be paid had not yet been determined. He said the delegations could hold a second or third meeting. “When the amount of compensation is determined, when an agreement is reached and is approved by authorities in both countries, we will have reached an important phase for the relations to be fully restored.”
During an April 7 meeting with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Secretary of State John Kerry had further urged a normalization of Turkish-Israeli relations. “We would like to see the relationship get back on track in its full measure,” Kerry said after meeting with Davutoğlu.
Most recently, Kerry urged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to delay a Gaza Strip visit so as not to upset U.S. efforts to revive Ankara’s ties with Israel and Middle East peace talks.
New York Times, 7 April 2013, Kerry asks Turkey to act on relations with Israel
Reuters, 18 April 2013, Israeli visit another sign of thaw with Turkey
ABC News, 21 April 2013, Kerry pushes Turkey-Israel rapprochement
Reuters, 21 April 2013, United States asked Turkey PM to delay Gaza trip: Kerry
Washington Post, 22 April 2013, In move to fix ties, Israel and Turkey agree on way forward for compensating flotilla victims
U.S. releases annual Human Rights Report
The U.S. State Department released its 2012 Human Rights Report on April 19. The report highlighted several problems in human rights practices in Turkey, namely, “deficiencies in effective access to justice, government interference with freedom of expression and inadequate protection of vulnerable populations.”
Department of State, Human Rights Report 2012: Turkey
Taliban captures at least 9, many from Turkey, from crashed helicopter in Afghanistan
A Turkish civilian helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in a Taliban-controlled area of eastern Afghanistan, and insurgents took all those aboard the aircraft hostage, including at least seven Turks, officials said on April 22.
CBS News, 22 April 2013, Taliban captures at least 9, many from Turkey, from crashed helicopter in Afghanistan
Turkey adopts migration and asylum law
Turkey, on a renewed push to join the EU, adopted on April 4 a long-awaited law to regulate migration and asylum in a move hailed by the European bloc. The migration and asylum law will protect refugees from Syria and other non-European nations as “conditional refugees” instead of the previous description of “guests.”
European Union Commissioner Stefan Fule said in a statement that the move indicated Turkey’s “clear commitment to build an effective migration management system in line with EU and international standards.”
Hurriyet Daily News, 5 April 2013, Eyeing EU, Turkey adopts migration and asylum law
ECONOMY / ENERGY
Turkey, seeking growth, cuts rates
Turkey’s central bank on April 16 became the latest emerging market to loosen monetary policy, slashing its key lending rate to a new low in a bid to boost growth amid stubbornly weak global demand. The central bank cut all interest rates by 0.5 percentage point, reducing the one-week repo rate to 5%, and narrowing the bank’s so-called interest-rate corridor, which varies daily rates, to a range of 4% to 7%, the Monetary Policy Committee said.
Wall Street Journal, 16 April 2013, Turkey, seeking growth, cuts rates
The Turkish economy: opportunities and challenges
Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum (ERF) held a conference on “The Turkish Economy: Opportunities and Challenges” on April 22 in Washington, DC.
The event featured Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez as the keynote speaker. The panelists included World Bank Country Director for Turkey Martin Raiser, IMF Advisor Prakash Loungani, and Johns Hopkins University Economics Professor Laurence Ball. ERF Director Sumru Altug moderated the event.
U.S. Foreign Policy towards the Middle East during the second term of President Obama
Boğaziçi University-TUSIAD Foreign Policy Forum organized a conference entitled “U.S. Foreign Policy towards the Middle East during the second term of President Obama” on April 16 at TUSIAD headquarters in Istanbul.
The discussion featured Ret. Amb. Matthew Bryza, Director of International Center for Defense Studies and former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Prof. Dr. Henri Barkey, Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University and former policy planning staff member in the U.S. State Department, and Ret. Amb. Volkan Vural, member of TUSIAD Executive Board and former Turkish Ambassador to Tehran, Moscow, Berlin, Madrid, and UN. Prof. Dr. Hakan Yılmaz, Director of the BU-TUSIAD Foreign Policy Forum will moderate.
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