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Turkey Letter: 15 May 2017

Foreign Policy

  • Erdogan Visits Trump, Amid Much Friction Between U.S., Turkey
  • Obama’s men influencing Trump on Syria: Erdoğan
  • Turkey, Russia and China to meet in trilateral leaders’ summit in Beijing
  • Malaysia deports three Turks over alleged Gülen links
  • S. to Expand Intelligence Cooperation with Turkey
  • Turkey Leader Calls on US to Reverse Decision to Arm Kurds
  • Turkish officials hold high-level talks in Washington before Erdoğan-Trump meeting
  • Erdoğan visits Kuwait as two countries seek to boost ties

Economy & Energy

  • Turkey runs $5 billion budget deficit for 2017 amid government incentives to boost growth
  • Turkey Plans to Securitize TV Dramas
  • New regulations to tighten control of exchange offices
  • Industrialists to no longer fund state-run broadcaster TRT
  • Lira Halts Decline Versus Dollar as Investors Mull Syria Tension
  • Turkey’s steel giant establishes joint venture with US company in metal recycling
  • Turkey signs deal to buy training aircraft from Pakistan
  • Worsening Budget Puts Turkey Treasury on Borrowing Spree

Domestic Politics

  • Main opposition CHP appoints central executive board member Erdoğdu as new deputy leader
  • Turkey’s main opposition CHP to apply to Euro court on referendum results next month
  • Turkey detains opposition newspaper editor
  • Turkey tests its first national missile in Black Sea
  • CHP, HDP boycott parliamentary commission to overhaul judges
  • Turkey seeks 40 separate life terms for nightclub attacker

Foreign Policy

Erdogan Visits Trump, Amid Much Friction Between U.S., Turkey

The United States is on a collision course with its NATO ally Turkey, pushing ahead with arming Syrian Kurds after deciding the immediate objective of defeating Islamic State militants outweighs the potential damage to a partnership vital to U.S. interests in the volatile Middle East. The Turks are fiercely opposed to the U.S. plans, seeing the Kurdish fighters as terrorists. And when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits the White House on Tuesday, the most he and President Donald Trump may be able to do is agree to disagree, and move on.

Bloomberg, Erdogan Visits Trump, Amid Much Friction Between U.S., Turkey, May 15, 2017


Obama’s men influencing Trump on Syria: Erdoğan

Allegations that Turkey has not done enough against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is “slander” by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, accusing some officials appointed by Obama of trying to influence President Donald Trump’s decisions on Syria and Iraq. “Turkey realized the danger of Daesh [ISIL] long before the United States did, and stood against it,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists in Beijing on May 14, two days before a scheduled meeting with Trump in Washington.

Hurriyet Daily News, Obama’s men influencing Trump on Syria: Erdoğan, May 15, 2017


Turkey, Russia and China to meet in trilateral leaders’ summit in Beijing

The leaders of Turkey, Russia and China will hold a trilateral summit in Beijing this weekend on the occasion of an international conference devoted to the revival of the historic Silk Road with the purpose of enhancing economic and trade cooperation, as well as discussing regional and global issues. The trilateral summit will be held under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the first such meeting of its kind, as all three men will be present at the Silk Road Economic Belt Conference alongside dozens of countries stretching from Asia to Eastern Europe on May 14 and 15.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey, Russia and China to meet in trilateral leaders’ summit in Beijing, May 12, 2017


Malaysia deports three Turks over alleged Gülen links

Malaysia has deported three Turkish men to Ankara over their involvement in the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), police said on May 12. Malaysian authorities detained school principal Turgay Karaman, 43, businessman İhsan Aslan, 39, and academic İsmet Özçelik, 58, last week, saying they posed a threat to national security.

Hurriyet Daily News, Malaysia deports three Turks over alleged Gülen links, May 12, 2017


U.S. to Expand Intelligence Cooperation With Turkey

The U.S. is beefing up joint intelligence efforts with Turkey to help that government better target terrorists in the region, according to U.S. officials, in an apparent bid to alleviate Turkish anxieties as the Pentagon implements a plan to arm Kurdish forces operating inside Syria.

The Wall Street Journal, U.S. to Expand Intelligence Cooperation With Turkey, May 10, 2017


Turkey Leader Calls on US to Reverse Decision to Arm Kurds

Turkey slammed the Trump administration’s decision to supply Syrian Kurdish fighters with weapons against the Islamic State group and demanded Wednesday that it be reversed, heightening tensions between the NATO allies days before the Turkish leader heads to Washington for a meeting with President Donald Trump. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the fight against terrorism “should not be led with another terror organization” – a reference to the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the YPG, which Turkey considers an extension of the decades-long Kurdish insurgency raging in its southeast.
Assocaited Press, Turkey Leader Calls on US to Reverse Decision to Arm Kurds, May 10, 2017


Turkish officials hold high-level talks in Washington before Erdoğan-Trump meeting

A Turkish preparatory delegation is holding high-level talks with U.S. officials in Washington ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit in the U.S. capital on May 16-17, when he will meet U.S. President Donald Trump. Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar met his U.S. counterpart, Joseph Dunford, on May 6, while Turkish Intelligence Agency (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan held talks with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish officials hold high-level talks in Washington before Erdoğan-Trump meeting, May 9, 2017


Economy & Energy

Turkey runs $5 billion budget deficit for 2017 amid government incentives to boost growth

The Turkish government ran a budget deficit of 17.9 billion Turkish Liras (around $5 billion) in January-April and 3 billion liras (around $843.5 million) in April, mainly due to a rise in state incentives to back the economy. “The budget deficit was higher than last year through the first four months due to the government’s incentives in support of economic growth,” Finance Minister Naci Ağbal said.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey runs $5 billion budget deficit for 2017 amid government incentives to boost growth, May 15, 2017


Turkey Plans to Securitize TV Dramas

Borsa Istanbul Chief Executive Officer Himmet Karadag says he plans to securitize the income of Resurrection Ertugrul, which is now in its third season, and narrates the 13th century origins of the dynasty that ruled from almost Vienna to Tehran at its height. That Resurrection’s reach is wider still makes it an obvious choice, he says, for foreign investors wanting to buy into one of Turkey’s sturdiest export industries.

Bloomberg, Turkey Plans to Securitize TV Dramas, May 15, 2017


New regulations to tighten control of exchange offices

The government is working on regulations to tighten control over foreign exchange offices, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek has said. “With the regulations, we will more effectively inspect foreign exchange offices, improve their transparency, financial infrastructure and credibility,” Şimşek said. “And market data will be monitored more closely with private information systems,” he added.

Hurriyet Daily News, New regulations to tighten control of exchange offices, May 14, 2017


Industrialists to no longer fund state-run broadcaster TRT

Turkish industrialists will no longer have to contribute funds to the state-run broadcaster TRT, according to a top official. “The industrialists paid 344.2 million liras [$95.95 million] to TRT in 2015. We are going to lift that condition on industrialists to pay their share to the broadcaster,” Science, Industry and Technology Minister Faruk Özlü said at a news conference in Ankara on May 10.

Hurriyet Daily News, Industrialists to no longer fund state-run broadcaster TRT, May 11, 2017


Lira Halts Decline Versus Dollar as Investors Mull Syria Tension

Turkey’s lira halted a decline that took it to a two-week low against the dollar as investors digested the latest obstacle to hit the currency this year. The currency slipped the most among emerging markets on Tuesday, and touched the lowest since April 21 earlier Wednesday, after U.S. President Donald Trump approved arming Kurdish forces in Syria to reclaim territory from Islamic State.

Bloomberg, Lira Halts Decline Versus Dollar as Investors Mull Syria Tension, May 10, 2017


Turkey’s steel giant establishes joint venture with US company in metal recycling

Turkey’s Tosyalı Holding has announced that it has established a joint venture with American industrial giant Harsco Corp in metal recycling and slag sales at its steel facilities in the southern province of Osmaniye. According to a written statement by the company on May 10, Tosyalı and Harsco, quoted in the NYSE, are preparing to contribute to the Turkish industry and economy by recycling the inactive slag which is stored in their iron and steel plants into value added products.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s steel giant establishes joint venture with US company in metal recycling, May 10, 2017


Turkey signs deal to buy training aircraft from Pakistan

Turkey inked an agreement to buy a total of 52 initial training aircraft from Pakistan, the country’s defense industry authority said in a statement on May 10. According a statement by the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), Turkey will buy 52 Super Mushshak aircraft from Pakistan’s Aeronautical Complex-Kamra to be used instead of T-41s and SF-260s in the inventory.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey signs deal to buy training aircraft from Pakistan, May 10, 2017


Worsening Budget Puts Turkey Treasury on Borrowing Spree

Increased spending to bolster growth sent Turkey’s Treasury on a borrowing spree to plug a widening budget deficit, shaking one of the pillars of strength for the Middle East’s largest economy. Cash budget balances have deteriorated in the last 12 months as spending spiked after a July 15 coup attempt last year and before a referendum in April gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers. Defense also became a major expense item as the army expanded operations in Syria, rising 19 percent last year to about $20 billion. The annualized cash budget deficit has ballooned to over 60 billion liras ($16.7 billion), a record, according to Bloomberg calculations using official figures.

Bloomberg, Worsening Budget Puts Turkey Treasury on Borrowing Spree, May 9, 2017


Domestic Politics

Main opposition CHP appoints central executive board member Erdoğdu as new deputy leader

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has appointed its Istanbul lawmaker Aykut Erdoğdu as the party’s new deputy leader responsible for the economy in lieu of Selin Sayek Böke, who has recently resigned from her post. “Central Executive Board [MYK] member Aykut Erdoğdu will carry out the duty as deputy leader responsible for economic policies,” the party said in a brief statement.

Hurriyet Daily News, Main opposition CHP appoints central executive board member Erdoğdu as new deputy leader, May 15, 2017


Turkey’s main opposition CHP to apply to Euro court on referendum results next month

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) will apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the results of the April 16 constitutional referendum in the beginning of next month. Speaking about the application, CHP deputy leader and spokesperson Bülent Tezcan said the court practices of the ECHR until today have never been in favor of the CHP, but violations during the referendum could change the pattern.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s main opposition CHP to apply to Euro court on referendum results next month, May 14, 2017


Turkey detains opposition newspaper editor

Turkish police on Friday detained the editor of a leading opposition newspaper for questioning over an article he wrote. Oguz Guven, the editor of pro-secular Cumhuriyet newspaper’s online edition, tweeted Friday “I’m being detained.” The state-run Anadolu news agency said Guven was taken under custody for a news article on the death of prosecutor Mustafa Alper in a traffic accident Wednesday. Details about the article in question have not been released.

The Washington Post, Turkey detains opposition newspaper editor, May 12, 2017


Turkey tests its first national missile in Black Sea

Turkey has successfully tested its first national missile, dubbed “Kaan,” in the Black Sea province of Sinop, Defense Minister Fikri Işık stated on May 11. “A new launch of our 280-kilometer range Bora missile has been made in Sinop. It is about to fall onto its target in the Black Sea at this moment. Turkey is now making its own missiles. We have gained great self-confidence,” Işık told private broadcaster A Haber, describing the launch as “successful.”

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey tests its first national missile in Black Sea, May 11, 2017


CHP, HDP boycott parliamentary commission to overhaul judges

Two opposition parties that campaigned against the constitutional amendment approved in last month’s referendum have boycotted the parliamentary meeting to assess judges for the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK), the configuration of which was altered by the amendment.

Hurriyet Daily News, CHP, HDP boycott parliamentary commission to overhaul judges, May 11, 2017


Turkey seeks 40 separate life terms for nightclub attacker

Prosecutors in Istanbul are seeking 40 consecutive life sentences for the man who attacked a nightclub in Istanbul during New Year’s celebrations, killing 39 people, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported Tuesday. Uzbekistan citizen Abdulkadir Masharipov was captured in Istanbul after evading police for more than two weeks. The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the mass shootings at the upscale Reina nightclub.

The Washington Post, Turkey seeks 40 separate life terms for nightclub attacker, May 9, 2017