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Turkey Letter: 12 December 2016

Foreign Politics

  • Condolences pour in after deadly attacks in Istanbul
  • Turkey-backed rebels close in on Islamic State-held Syrian city al-Bab
  • EU Chief Juncker Suggests Alternative to Bloc Membership
  • Turkey’s Post-Coup Crackdown Includes Officers at NATO
  • Erdogan maybe more open to Cyprus deal after coup
  • Turkish court dismisses case over 2010 Israeli flotilla raid

Economy & Energy

  • Turkey’s Economy Contracts for First Time Since 2009
  • Lira Leads Drop in Emerging Currencies as Russian Markets Rally
  • Turkey Takes Further Steps to Bolster Slumping Currency
  • Israel and Turkey Seek to Shield Natural Gas Ties From Politics
  • Souring Loans Straining Banks Pressed by Erdogan to Lend
  • Turkish hotels cut staff, shut for winter with occupancy lowest in Europe

Domestic Politics

  • Kurdish Militant Group Claims Responsibility for Deadly Istanbul Bombing
  • Turkey Faces Crossroads Over Constitution
  • At least 235 people including HDP executives rounded up on terror charges
  • Thousands of people still displaced by violence in SE Turkey

Foreign Politics

Condolences pour in after deadly attacks in Istanbul

Leaders from around the world have issued statements condemning the deadly attacks on Dec. 10 in Istanbul that killed at least 44 people and injured 150 others. The European Union, NATO and the United States expressed condolences on Dec. 11, hours after deadly bombings in Istanbul.

Hurriyet Daily News, Condolences pour in after deadly attacks in Istanbul, December 12, 2016


Turkey-backed rebels close in on Islamic State-held Syrian city al-Bab

Turkey-backed rebels closed in on an Islamic State-held city in northern Syria on December 9, foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, with Turkish tanks and warplanes supporting the assault.

Reuters, Turkey-backed rebels close in on Islamic State-held Syrian city al-Bab, December 9, 2016


EU Chief Juncker Suggests Alternative to Bloc Membership

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on December 9 said a “different orbit” as an alternative to European Union membership should be invented for countries bordering the bloc such as the U.K. and Turkey.

Wall Street Journal, EU Chief Juncker Suggests Alternative to Bloc Membership, December 9, 2016


Turkey’s Post-Coup Crackdown Includes Officers at NATO

Since a failed coup in July, Turkey has recalled half of its military officers assigned to commands overseen by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s top commander, officials said on December 7.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey’s Post-Coup Crackdown Includes Officers at NATO, December 7, 2016


Erdogan maybe more open to Cyprus deal after coup

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan may be more willing to back a deal to reunite the divided island of Cyprus following Turkey’s failed army coup in July, the Cypriot foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Reuters, Erdogan maybe more open to Cyprus deal after coup, December 6, 2016


Turkish court dismisses case over 2010 Israeli flotilla raid

A Turkish court on Friday, December 9 dismissed a case brought by victims of an Israeli raid on an aid flotilla that killed 10 people in 2010, said a lawyer for the victims’ families, who stormed out of the courtroom as the judge ordered one co-plaintiff to be ejected.

Reuters, Turkish court dismisses case over 2010 Israeli flotilla raid, December 9, 2016


Economy & Energy

Turkey’s Economy Contracts for First Time Since 2009

Turkey’s economy contracted for the first time in seven years during the third quarter, official data showed Monday, as mounting uncertainties since a failed summer coup crimped domestic demand and devastated key industries such as tourism.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey’s Economy Contracts for First Time Since 2009, December 12, 2016


Lira Leads Drop in Emerging Currencies as Russian Markets Rally

The lira led declines among emerging-market currencies after data showed Turkey’s economy shrank for the first time in seven years. Russian assets rose with oil prices.

Bloomberg, Lira Leads Drop in Emerging Currencies as Russian Markets Rally, December 12, 2016


Turkey Takes Further Steps to Bolster Slumping Currency

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced Thursday the creation of a $72 billion fund for local businesses, part of a spate of new government measures aimed at supporting the country’s economy and slumping currency.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey Takes Further Steps to Bolster Slumping Currency, December 8, 2016


Israel and Turkey Seek to Shield Natural Gas Ties From Politics

Israel and Turkey are working to eliminate a major obstacle to natural gas deals: their own fractious history. The two governments are working on a framework for the export of Israeli natural gas to Turkey that would protect contracts between companies if diplomatic ties break down, Israeli Energy Ministry Director-General Shaul Meridor said in an interview in Jerusalem. With such a shield in place, gas could begin flowing from Israeli waters to Turkey as soon as 2019, he said.

Bloomberg, Israel and Turkey Seek to Shield Natural Gas Ties From Politics, December 12, 2016


Souring Loans Straining Banks Pressed by Erdogan to Lend

The Turkish president has urged the central bank to lower interest rates and told lenders to bring down borrowing costs. But his quick fix for the country’s economic woes risks backfiring as the lira’s 18 percent slump this year, the third worst in emerging markets after the Argentine and Mexican pesos, is making it harder for local companies to service debt in foreign currency. That, in turn, is putting the country’s banks in a bind.

Bloomberg, Souring Loans Straining Banks Pressed by Erdogan to Lend, December 6, 2016


Turkish hotels cut staff, shut for winter with occupancy lowest in Europe

Turkish hotels have cut staff by 40 percent, some have shuttered for the winter and others are struggling to pay back loans after a trying year when occupancy rates fell to the lowest in Europe, a report said

Reuters, Turkish hotels cut staff, shut for winter with occupancy lowest in Europe, December 5, 2016


Domestic Politics

Kurdish Militant Group Claims Responsibility for Deadly Istanbul Bombing

A Kurdish militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for a double bombing that killed 44 people and wounded 154 outside a soccer stadium in the heart of Istanbul the night before.

New York Times, Kurdish Militant Group Claims Responsibility for Deadly Istanbul Bombing, December 11, 2016


Turkey Faces Crossroads Over Constitution

Turkey faces a historic crossroads as lawmakers prepare to debate a controversial bill introduced this weekend to concentrate power in the office of the presidency, at a time when the nation is polarized about whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a force for stability or insecurity.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey Faces Crossroads Over Constitution, December 11, 2016


At least 235 people including HDP executives rounded up on terror charges

At least 235 people, including local executives of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), were detained on Dec. 12 in 11 Turkish provinces as part of a major probe launched into the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Hurriyet Daily News, At least 235 people including HDP executives rounded up on terror charges, December 12, 2016


Thousands of people still displaced by violence in SE Turkey

Thousands of people are still unable to return to their homes in a district of mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey one year after authorities imposed a round-the-clock curfew in an attempt to crush Kurdish militants, Amnesty International said.

Reuters, Thousands of people still displaced by violence in SE Turkey, December 6, 2016