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Turkey Letter: 16 February 2016

Foreign Policy

  • Unrealistic for Turkey, Saudi, Qatar to conduct ground ops in Syria, FM says
  • Pentagon Urges Turkey, Kurdish Forces to Halt Fire in Syria
  • Turkey’s Erdogan chastises U.S. over support for Syrian Kurds
  • U.S., Russia Work to Cement Syria Cease-Fire
  • NATO to Discuss Turkish Call for Migrant Help
  • Turkey, Israel Move Toward a Rapprochement

Economy and Energy

  • Lira Falls to Two-Week Low as Turkey-Kurd Border Violence Flares
  • Turkey’s Current-Account Deficit Narrows at Slower Pace on Oil
  • Mystery Inflows to Turkish Economy Reach Highest on Record
  • Turkish gov’t to speed up economic reforms, revise public procurement law: Deputy PM
  • Turkish banking sector grew 18 percent in 2015

Domestic Politics

  • PKK should leave guns and peace talks should be revived: Top business organization
  • CHP, HDP demand redefinition of charter panel mandate
  • Turkish security complete operations in Kurdish town: minister
  • Two pro-gov’t newspaper offices in Istanbul vandalized by gunmen

Foreign Policy

Unrealistic for Turkey, Saudi, Qatar to conduct ground ops in Syria, FM says

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday that It would be unrealistic for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to conduct ground operations in Syria alone.Turkey, Saudi Arabia and some European allies want a ground operation in Syria but there is no consensus in the coalition and a strategy for such an incursion has not been seriously debated, the foreign minister told Reuters.

Daily Sabah, Unrealistic for Turkey, Saudi, Qatar to conduct ground ops in Syria, FM says, February 16, 2016


Pentagon Urges Turkey, Kurdish Forces to Halt Fire in Syria

The U.S. Defense Department is urging Turkey and Kurdish forces in Syria to quit firing at each other as reports of fresh violence between the two parties threaten their efforts to counter Islamic State.

Bloomberg, Pentagon Urges Turkey, Kurdish Forces to Halt Fire in Syria, February 13, 2016


Turkey’s Erdogan chastises U.S. over support for Syrian Kurds

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan upbraided the United States for its support of Syrian Kurdish rebels on Wednesday, saying Washington’s inability to grasp their true nature had turned the region into a “sea of blood”. Turkey should respond by implementing its own solution, he said, alluding to the creation of a safe zone in northern Syria – something Ankara has long wanted but a proposal that has failed to resonate with the United States and other NATO allies.

Reuters, Turkey’s Erdogan chastises U.S. over support for Syrian Kurds, February 10, 2016


U.S., Russia Work to Cement Syria Cease-Fire

The U.S. and Russia stepped up their efforts to cement a cease-fire in Syria as Turkey rebuffed appeals from world leaders for an immediate halt to shelling of American-backed Kurdish forces, a deadly confrontation that has undermined the shaky Middle East peace process.

Wall Street Journal, U.S., Russia Work to Cement Syria Cease-Fire, February 14, 2016


NATO to Discuss Turkish Call for Migrant Help

Defense ministers from member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will discuss a Turkish request for help in stemming the flow of refugees into Europe, the head of the alliance said on February 9th. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he spoke with the defense ministers of Turkey and Germany on Tuesday regarding a possible mission.

Wall Street Journal, NATO to Discuss Turkish Call for Migrant Help, February 9, 2016


Turkey, Israel Move Toward a Rapprochement

There is growing evidence that Turkey and Israel may be on the brink of a historic handshake  Both sides recalled their ambassadors after Israeli security forces killed nine Turks who were trying to break Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza in 2010.  The latest diplomatic efforts come as Ankara increasingly finds itself isolated in the region over its support for Syrian rebels.

Voice of America, Turkey, Israel Move Toward a Rapprochement, February 11, 2016


Economy and Energy

Lira Falls to Two-Week Low as Turkey-Kurd Border Violence Flares

Turkey’s lira fell to the weakest level in almost two weeks and bonds slid after the eruption of fighting on the border with Syria triggered concern security risks were escalating.

Bloomberg, Lira Falls to Two-Week Low as Turkey-Kurd Border Violence Flares, February 15, 2016


Turkey’s Current-Account Deficit Narrows at Slower Pace on Oil

Turkey’s current-account gap narrowed at a slower pace in December than in the previous two months as the impact of lower oil prices diminished at the end of last year. The lira weakened. The deficit shrank to $5.07 billion, compared with $6.66 billion a year earlier, a 24 percent annual drop.

Bloomberg, Turkey’s Current-Account Deficit Narrows at Slower Pace on Oil, February 11, 2016


Mystery Inflows to Turkish Economy Reach Highest on Record

Turkey’s capital inflows of unknown origin last year reached the highest level since the central bank began keeping records in 1975, spurring fears that the government’s way of financing the current-account gap is unsustainable.

Bloomberg, Mystery Inflows to Turkish Economy Reach Highest on Record, February 11, 2016


Turkish gov’t to speed up economic reforms, revise public procurement law: Deputy PM

Deputy Prime Minister Lütfi Elvan has said a number of judicial and administrative reforms will soon be realized to boost investment, production, exports and employment, following a meeting of the Coordination Council for the Improvement of the Investment Environment (YOİKK). The public procurement law will be revised in accordance with the European Union rules, he noted.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish gov’t to speed up economic reforms, revise public procurement law: Deputy PM, February 16, 2016


Turkish banking sector grew 18 percent in 2015

Turkey’s banking sector grew by 18 percent last year, with lenders’ overall balance sheet size reaching 2.3 trillion Turkish Liras, according to the Banks Association of Turkey (TBB).

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish banking sector grew 18 percent in 2015, February 9, 2016


Domestic Politics

PKK should leave guns and peace talks should be revived: Top business organization

The head of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), Cansen Başaran-Symes, said the terror problem should not be allowed to destroy the peaceful coexistence of the Turkish people, voicing her hopes about the revival of peaceful days again.

Hurriyet Daily News, PKK should leave guns and peace talks should be revived: Top business organization, February 11, 2016


CHP, HDP demand redefinition of charter panel mandate

The mandate of the parliamentary panel tasked with rewriting the constitution should also include an overall democratization process for Turkey, two of the country’s opposition parties have said.

Hurriyet Daily News, CHP, HDP demand redefinition of charter panel mandate, February 12, 2016


Turkish security complete operations in Kurdish town: minister

Turkish security forces have completed operations against Kurdish militants in a border town after weeks of fighting, Interior Minister Efkan Ala said on Thursday, raising hopes that a lockdown could be lifted. Authorities imposed a round-the-clock curfew on Cizre, near Turkey’s frontiers with both Iraq and Syria, on Dec. 14 in a bid to root out armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants who had dug trenches and erected barricades.

Reuters, Turkish security complete operations in Kurdish town: minister, February 11, 2016


Two pro-gov’t newspaper offices in Istanbul vandalized by gunmen

The Istanbul offices of two pro-government media outlets, daily Yeni Şafak and Yeni Akit, were vandalized with Molotov cocktails and weapons early on Feb. 11.

Hurriyet Daily News, Two pro-gov’t newspaper offices in Istanbul vandalized by gunmen, February 11, 2016