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Turkey Letter: 21 March 2016

Foreign Policy

  • Turkish Member of ISIS Carried Out Istanbul Bombing, Official Says
  • European Union Reaches Deal With Turkey to Return New Asylum Seekers
  • Kurds Declare ‘Federal Region’ in Syria, Says Official
  • Turkey Struggles to Fight War on Two Fronts Against Islamic State and Kurdish Separatists
  • Bomb kills policeman in southeast Turkey, embassies warn on security
  • EU-Turkey deal fails to stem refugee flight to Greece
  • Senior Israeli official to visit Turkey after deadly terror act in Istanbul
  • Pope to visit Armenia after angering Turkey with genocide remark

Economy and Energy

  • Top Erdogan Aide Says Turkey May Cut Interest Rate Next Week
  • Iran’s Zarif to discuss business, Syria on Turkey visit
  • Tourists Steer Clear of Turkey After Bombings, Russia Clash
  • Turkish consumer confidence edges up in March
  • Turkey’s security expenses on rise as budget posts surplus on fresh tax hikes

Domestic Politics

  • Kurdish Militants Say They’re Behind Car Bombing in Turkey’s Capital
  • Two Top Turkish Businessmen Snared in Widening Crackdown on Opposition
  • Curfew lifted in area of southeast Turkey, security tight for festival
  • Turkey’s Erdogan would label even more people as terrorists

Foreign Policy

Turkish Member of ISIS Carried Out Istanbul Bombing, Official Says

A Turkish member of the Islamic State was the perpetrator of a suicide bombing that killed four foreigners in Istanbul over the weekend, the Turkish interior minister said on Sunday.

New York Times, Turkish Member of ISIS Carried Out Istanbul Bombing, Official Says, March 20, 2016


European Union Reaches Deal With Turkey to Return New Asylum Seekers

The European Union has reached an agreement with Turkey that it hopes will ease the migrant crisis that has roiled the Continent for the past year.Under the deal struck Friday, asylum seekers who take clandestine routes to Greece from Turkey are to be sent back, a significant step in the bloc’s effort to deal with the migrant exodus. The leaders of the 28 nations in the bloc and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey approved the accord over strenuous objections from humanitarian groups, who warned that the deal violated international law on the treatment of refugees.

New York Times, European Union Reaches Deal With Turkey to Return New Asylum Seekers, March 19, 2016


Kurds Declare ‘Federal Region’ in Syria, Says Official

Representatives from Syria’s Kurdish region on Thursday said they would form a new federal system of governance, giving a more unified voice to Syrian Kurdish demands for greater autonomy. “We’ve been very clear that we won’t recognize any kind of self-autonomous—or self-rule, semiautonomous zones in Syria,” said Mark Toner, a deputy State Department spokesman.

Wall Street Journal, Kurds Declare ‘Federal Region’ in Syria, Says Official, March 17, 2016


Turkey Struggles to Fight War on Two Fronts Against Islamic State and Kurdish Separatists

Over the past nine months, Turkey has been hit by six major bombings that have killed more than 220 people and exposed how the government has failed to insulate the country from the fallout of the Syrian war next door.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey Struggles to Fight War on Two Fronts Against Islamic State and Kurdish Separatists, March 17, 2016


Bomb kills policeman in southeast Turkey, embassies warn on security

A bomb attack by Kurdish militants killed a police officer in southeast Turkey on Friday and another device was defused outside a local government building, as embassies issued security warnings about expected demonstrations this weekend.

Reuters, Bomb kills policeman in southeast Turkey, embassies warn on security, March 18, 2016


EU-Turkey deal fails to stem refugee flight to Greece

Under the European Union deal with Turkey, all migrants and refugees, including Syrians, who cross to Greece illegally by sea from March 20 will be sent back to Turkey once they are registered and their asylum claims have been processed.

Reuters, EU-Turkey deal fails to stem refugee flight to Greece, March 21, 2016


Senior Israeli official to visit Turkey after deadly terror act in Istanbul

A senior Israeli official is scheduled to pay a rare visit to Turkey on March 20 after a suicide bomb attack killed three Israeli citizens and wounded another three in the touristic center of Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district.

Hurriyet Daily News, Senior Israeli official to visit Turkey after deadly terror act in Istanbul, March 19, 2016


Pope to visit Armenia after angering Turkey with genocide remark

Pope Francis plans to visit Armenia in June, the Vatican said on Friday, a trip that could upset Turkey if he again describes the century-old massacres of Christian Armenians as a genocide.

Reuters, Pope to visit Armenia after angering Turkey with genocide remark, March 18, 2016


Economy and Energy

Top Erdogan Aide Says Turkey May Cut Interest Rate Next Week

Turkey’s central bank may cut its overnight lending rate, one of three it uses to determine borrowing costs, next week because it is deterring investment and helping to keep inflation above target, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief economic adviser said.

Bloomberg, Top Erdogan Aide Says Turkey May Cut Interest Rate Next Week, March 17, 2016


Iran’s Zarif to discuss business, Syria on Turkey visit

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif joined his Turkish hosts in Istanbul on Saturday in condemning a suicide bombing by suspected Kurdish militants in a main shopping district that killed five people. Zarif, on a visit to bolster bilateral trade and discuss political differences over the war in neighboring Syria, said the bombing – which also injured 36 people – “displays the ugly face of terrorism”.

Reuters, Iran’s Zarif to discuss business, Syria on Turkey visit, March 19, 2016


Tourists Steer Clear of Turkey After Bombings, Russia Clash

A string of terrorist attacks blamed on Islamic State or Kurdish militants, on top of a diplomatic feud with Russia, are battering Turkey’s vibrant tourism industry, which had been one of the few bright spots in a slowing economy.

Wall Street Journal, Tourists Steer Clear of Turkey After Bombings, Russia Clash, March 20, 2016


Turkish consumer confidence edges up in March

Turkey’s consumer confidence index rose to 67 in March from 66.64 in February, the Turkish Statistics Institute said on March 21. The consumer confidence index, which is calculated using results of a consumer tendency survey carried out in cooperation with TÜİK and the Central Bank, regressed to its lowest level since January 2009 in September 2015, but has subsequently recovered. However, it would need to rise above 100 to indicate optimism.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish consumer confidence edges up in March, March 21, 2016


Turkey’s security expenses on rise as budget posts surplus on fresh tax hikes

Turkey’s security and defense expenses almost doubled in February as the government budget ran a surplus of 2.4 billion Turkish Liras ($831 million), mainly thanks to fresh tax hikes. Security and defense expenses increased to 105.7 million liras in the government budget in February from around 52.4 million liras in the same month of 2015, according to data revealed by the Finance Ministry on March 15.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s security expenses on rise as budget posts surplus on fresh tax hikes, March 16, 2016


Domestic Politics

Kurdish Militants Say They’re Behind Car Bombing in Turkey’s Capital

A militant group with links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for autonomy inside Turkey, claimed responsibility on Thursday for a car bombing in the capital, Ankara, over the weekend that killed 37 people.

New York Times, Kurdish Militants Say They’re Behind Car Bombing in Turkey’s Capital, March 17, 2016


Two Top Turkish Businessmen Snared in Widening Crackdown on Opposition

Two top Turkish businessmen — Ersin Ozince, the chairman of the country’s largest bank, and Aydin Dogan, a media tycoon — are among 47 people facing indictment for alleged gasoline smuggling, pro-government newspapers report. If convicted, they could be sentenced to decades in prison.

Voice of America, Two Top Turkish Businessmen Snared in Widening Crackdown on Opposition, March 18, 2016


Curfew lifted in area of southeast Turkey, security tight for festival

Turkish authorities lifted a curfew imposed to fight Kurdish militants in an area of southeast Turkey’s largest city, Diyarbakir, on Monday but security was tight as Kurds celebrated the Newroz spring festival.

Reuters, Curfew lifted in area of southeast Turkey, security tight for festival, March 21, 2016


Turkey’s Erdogan would label even more people as terrorists

Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made remarks about a need to broaden the definition of terrorism. Erdogan, who has been in power for nearly a decade and a half, wanted to make those sympathetic to the perpetrators of “terrorist” crimes culpable for that violence as well.

Washington Post, Turkey’s Erdogan would label even more people as terrorists, March 17, 2016