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Turkey Letter: 19 December 2016

Foreign Politics

  • Russia, Iran and Turkey to hold Syria talks in Moscow on Tuesday
  • Obama praises Turkey’s role in Aleppo truce: White House readout
  • After Aleppo, a chapter closes on Turkey’s ambitions in Syria
  • EU plans possible summit with Turkey in coming months
  • Turkish Opposition Finds Base in Germany

Economy & Energy

  • The Age of Erdoganomics Has Come
  • Purges Are Bad for Business in Erdogan’s Battered Economy
  • Toxic Mix Brewing for Ailing Lira as Turkey Economy Shrinks
  • Turks Seek Gold More Than Liras in Response to Erdogan’s Call
  • Russia ratifies bill on Turkish Stream gas pipeline

Domestic Politics

  • Car bomb in Turkey kills 13 soldiers amid growing resistance from separatist Kurds
  • Groups attack, set fire to HDP buildings after deadly bombing in Kayseri
  • President Erdoğan calls for ‘national mobilization’ against terrorist organizations
  • Turkey could hold referendum on stronger presidency in March
  • Record Number of Journalists Jailed in 2016, Press Advocacy Group Says
  • Istanbul’s Eurasia Tunnel set to open on Dec 20 in official ceremony

Foreign Politics

Russia, Iran and Turkey to hold Syria talks in Moscow on Tuesday

The foreign and defense ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey will discuss the future of Syria and the city of Aleppo at talks in Moscow on Tuesday, December 20, Turkish and Russian officials said.

Reuters, Russia, Iran and Turkey to hold Syria talks in Moscow on Tuesday, December 19, 2016


Obama praises Turkey’s role in Aleppo truce: White House readout

Speaking in a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan late Dec 15, U.S. President Barack Obama praised the role Turkey played in brokering a truce deal in Aleppo that paved the way for the evacuation of thousands of civilians from the besieged city.

Hurriyet Daily News, Obama praises Turkey’s role in Aleppo truce: White House readout, December 15, 2016


After Aleppo, a chapter closes on Turkey’s ambitions in Syria

The recapture of Aleppo by Syrian government forces deals a humiliating blow to years of Turkish policy in Syria, leaving in ruins its efforts to force President Bashar al-Assad from power and handing a major victory to main regional rival Iran.

Reuters, After Aleppo, a chapter closes on Turkey’s ambitions in Syria, December 15, 2016


EU plans possible summit with Turkey in coming months

The heads of European Union institutions were given a mandate to plan a possible summit meeting with Turkish leaders in the coming months at an EU summit on Thursday, summit chair Donald Tusk told a news conference.

Reuters, EU plans possible summit with Turkey in coming months, December 16, 2016


Turkish Opposition Finds Base in Germany

With Berlin’s active encouragement, Germany is becoming a base for opponents of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, adding new strains to Turkey’s fraying relationship with Europe.

Wall Street Journal, Turkish Opposition Finds Base in Germany, December 13, 2016


Economy & Energy

The Age of Erdoganomics Has Come

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economic strategy looks like it has just been vindicated, with a little help from one of the largest statistical revisions in the country’s modern history.

Bloomberg, The Age of Erdoganomics Has Come, December 18, 2016


Purges Are Bad for Business in Erdogan’s Battered Economy

The climate of fear created by the bloody putsch and subsequent crackdown has soured investor sentiment, sapped consumer demand and disrupted supply chains. On Monday, December 12, the government released its widest measure of the economic damage sustained so far, gross domestic product, which contracted for the first time in seven years in the third quarter, by 1.8 percent.

Bloomberg, Purges Are Bad for Business in Erdogan’s Battered Economy, December 14, 2016


Toxic Mix Brewing for Ailing Lira as Turkey Economy Shrinks

The central bank is already under pressure from politicians including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to cut rates and support the economy, which contracted in the third quarter for the first time in seven years. So while “the plunging lira argues for a hike,” the central bank will struggle to raise rates after this data, said Win Thin, the head of emerging markets at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in New York.

Bloomberg, Toxic Mix Brewing for Ailing Lira as Turkey Economy Shrinks, December 12, 2016


Turks Seek Gold More Than Liras in Response to Erdogan’s Call

Asked by their President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to shun the dollar, Turks are favoring gold over liras. On the face of it, the appeal to defend the Turkish currency worked. It arrested the biggest three-week surge in foreign-currency deposits since August as Turks drew down a net $450 million from these accounts in the week ended Dec. 9. But residents also boosted their precious metal holdings, traditionally denominated in dollars, by $700 million, a hint that confidence in their currency remains tenuous, according to Nomura Inc.

Bloomberg, Turks Seek Gold More Than Liras in Response to Erdogan’s Call, December 16, 2016


Russia ratifies bill on Turkish Stream gas pipeline

Russia announced late on Dec. 16 that it had approved a bill to ratify the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline project.

Hurriyet Daily News, Russia ratifies bill on Turkish Stream gas pipeline, December 19, 2016


Domestic Politics

Car bomb in Turkey kills 13 soldiers amid growing resistance from separatist Kurds

An explosion in central Turkey tore through a bus carrying off-duty soldiers early Saturday, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens in the second major attack targeting Turkey’s security forces in a week, authorities said.

Washington Post, Car bomb in Turkey kills 13 soldiers amid growing resistance from separatist Kurds, December 17, 2016


Groups attack, set fire to HDP buildings after deadly bombing in Kayseri

A group of people marched on the provincial branch office of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri on Dec. 17, attacking and inflicting damage to the property in an act that was repeated in several other provinces.

Hurriyet Daily News, Groups attack, set fire to HDP buildings after deadly bombing in Kayseri, December 18, 2016


President Erdoğan calls for ‘national mobilization’ against terrorist organizations

 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for a “national mobilization against all terrorist organizations” on Dec. 14 during a speech to neighborhood heads at the Presidential Palace in Ankara.

Hurriyet Daily News, President Erdoğan calls for ‘national mobilization’ against terrorist organizations, December 14, 2016


Turkey could hold referendum on stronger presidency in March

Turkey may hold a referendum as early as March on constitutional changes to expand the president’s powers, a senior ruling party lawmaker said, a move that would help Tayyip Erdogan acquire the executive presidency he has long sought.

Reuters, Turkey could hold referendum on stronger presidency in March, December 15, 2016


Record Number of Journalists Jailed in 2016, Press Advocacy Group Says

At least 259 journalists have been jailed around the world this year, a press advocacy group reported on Monday, December 12, the most since it began a detailed annual census of imprisonments in 1990.

New York Times, Record Number of Journalists Jailed in 2016, Press Advocacy Group Says, December 13, 2016


Istanbul’s Eurasia Tunnel set to open on Dec 20 in official ceremony

An underwater tunnel that will considerably shorten the duration of travel for vehicles from Istanbul’s Asian side to the European side is slated to open on Dec. 20 in an official ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.

Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul’s Eurasia Tunnel set to open on Dec 20 in official ceremony, December 19, 2016