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Turkey Letter: 13 March 2017

Foreign Politics

  • Turkey’s Relations With Europe Sink Amid Quarrel With Netherlands
  • Turkish, US, Russian military chiefs hold surprise meeting
  • Russia, Turkey, Iran to press ahead with Syria talks: Kazakhstan
  • Turkey seeks to build Syrian military cooperation with Russia
  • Erdogan says expects Russia to lift all economic restrictions on Turkey
  • Turkey warns US relations at risk if Kurds help retake Raqqa
  • Trump, Erdoğan meeting ‘possible after referendum’
  • Turkey says all deals with EU in jeopardy if no visa liberalization

Economy & Energy

  • Turkish central bank signals more tightening possible, lira weakens
  • Turkey to introduce lira obligation for companies in free trade zones: Minister
  • Turkey’s current account deficit widens in January
  • Russia, Turkey create investment fund for up $1 billion
  • Turkish banks ‘remain well-capitalized’: Moody’s
  • Turkey hopes discounts, fuel subsidies can reverse 30 percent tourism plunge

Domestic Politics

  • Main opposition leader slams gov’t for not retaliating over diplomatic crisis with Netherlands
  • HDP co-chair Demirtaş’s statements ‘exceed freedom of expression limits,’ court says
  • Turkish opposition MHP expels three deputies, one member
  • 30 PKK militants killed in one week: Interior ministry
  • UN Office Urges Turkey to Probe 2,000 Reported Killings

Foreign Politics

Turkey’s Relations With Europe Sink Amid Quarrel With Netherlands

Turkey’s quarrel with Europe worsened over the weekend after the Turkish president accused the Dutch government of Nazism, and Turkish politicians were barred or disinvited from events in two European countries, amid tensions ahead of a tight referendum on a new Turkish Constitution.

New York Times, Turkey’s Relations With Europe Sink Amid Quarrel With Netherlands, March 12, 2017


Turkish, US, Russian military chiefs hold surprise meeting

The surprise meeting between Turkey’s Gen. Hulusi Akar, the U.S. Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, is underway on March 14 in Antalya.

Associated Press, Turkish, US, Russian military chiefs hold surprise meeting, March 7, 2017


Russia, Turkey, Iran to press ahead with Syria talks: Kazakhstan

Russia, Turkey and Iran are pressing ahead with a fresh round of Syria talks in Kazakhstan, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said on Monday, despite a request from Syrian rebels to delay the meeting.

Reuters, Russia, Turkey, Iran to press ahead with Syria talks: Kazakhstan, March 13, 2017


Turkey seeks to build Syrian military cooperation with Russia

President Tayyip Erdogan sought to build cooperation with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on March 10 over military operations in Syria, as Turkey attempts to create a border “safe zone” free of Islamic State and the Kurdish YPG militia.

Reuters, Turkey seeks to build Syrian military cooperation with Russia, March 11, 2017


Erdogan says expects Russia to lift all economic restrictions on Turkey

Turkey expects Russia to lift completely economic restrictions it has imposed on Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan said at a news conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on March 10.

Reuters, Erdogan says expects Russia to lift all economic restrictions on Turkey, March 10, 2017


Turkey warns US relations at risk if Kurds help retake Raqqa

The United States risks major damage to its relationship with NATO ally Turkey if the U.S. includes Kurdish forces in the fight to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s de facto capital, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on March 9.

Associated Press, Turkey warns US relations at risk if Kurds help retake Raqqa, March 9, 2017


Trump, Erdoğan meeting ‘possible after referendum’                                 

“They said they have a practice of not meeting politicians from countries that are going to hold elections within 60 days. That’s why we have the impression that the meeting will be held after the referendum,” President Erdogan said on March 13, adding that the countries’ army chiefs are in contact regarding ongoing operations in Syria.

Hurriyet Daily News, Trump, Erdoğan meeting ‘possible after referendum’, March 13, 2017


Turkey says all deals with EU in jeopardy if no visa liberalization           

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday deals with the European Union, including an agreement on stemming the flow of migrants, would be jeopardized if the bloc failed to implement promised visa liberalization for Turks.

Reuters, Turkey says all deals with EU in jeopardy if no visa liberalization, March 11, 2017


Economy & Energy

Turkish central bank signals more tightening possible, lira weakens

The Turkish Central Bank will closely monitor pricing behavior and implement further monetary tightening if needed, its governor said on March 8, but the lira weakened in apparent disappointment he did not give a clearer signal on rates. The lira weakened as far as 3.7310 against the U.S. currency after Çetinkaya’s presentation from 3,6770 beforehand.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish central bank signals more tightening possible, lira weakens, March 8, 2017


Turkey to introduce lira obligation for companies in free trade zones: Minister

Turkey will introduce an obligation for companies to use the Turkish Lira in transactions in the free trade zone, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said March 9, in a move to reduce demand for U.S. dollars by $6 billion.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey to introduce lira obligation for companies in free trade zones: Minister, March 9, 2017


Turkey’s current account deficit widens in January

Turkey’s current account deficit stood at $2.76 billion in January, up by almost $561 million year-on-year, a Turkish Central Bank report showed on March 13.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s current account deficit widens in January, March 13, 2017


Russia, Turkey create investment fund for up $1 billion

Russia and Turkey signed a memorandum on March 10 creating a joint investment fund into which each country will invest up to $500 million.

Reuters, Russia, Turkey create investment fund for up $1 billion, March 10, 2017


Turkish banks ‘remain well-capitalized’: Moody’s

Turkish banks remain well-capitalized, while the country’s tourism sector is expected to get a boost following reconciliation with Russia, Iraq and the northern Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government, Moody’s said on March 6.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish banks ‘remain well-capitalized’: Moody’s, March 6, 2017


Turkey hopes discounts, fuel subsidies can reverse 30 percent tourism plunge

Turkey expressed hopes on Friday for a revival of its tourism industry after security concerns caused a 30 percent drop in foreign visitors and revenues last year.

Reuters, Turkey hopes discounts, fuel subsidies can reverse 30 percent tourism plunge, March 10, 2017


Domestic Politics

Main opposition leader slams gov’t for not retaliating over diplomatic crisis with Netherlands

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed the government for not retaliating against the Netherlands after a Turkish minister was expelled from the country, criticizing the ruling party for attempting to gain votes for an April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments.

Hurriyet Daily News, Main opposition leader slams gov’t for not retaliating over diplomatic crisis with Netherlands, March 13, 2017


HDP co-chair Demirtaş’s statements ‘exceed freedom of expression limits,’ court says

Statements by the jailed Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş “go beyond freedom of expression,” a court ruled on March 13.

Hurriyet Daily News, HDP co-chair Demirtaş’s statements ‘exceed freedom of expression limits,’ court says, March 13, 2017


Turkish opposition MHP expels three deputies, one member

Turkey’s opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) expelled four of its lawmakers on March 10, amid deepening rift within the party.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish opposition MHP expels three deputies, one member, March 10, 2017


30 PKK militants killed in one week: Interior ministry

Some 30 outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants were killed in security operations carried out between March 6 and 13, the Turkish Interior Ministry has said.

Hurriyet Daily News, 30 PKK militants killed in one week: Interior ministry, March 13, 2017


UN Office Urges Turkey to Probe 2,000 Reported Killings

The Turkish government should investigate hundreds of alleged killings and other rights abuses in Turkey’s southeast, the U.N. human rights office said on March 10, releasing a report on an upsurge in violence there over 18 months.

Associated Press, UN Office Urges Turkey to Probe 2,000 Reported Killings, March 10, 2017