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Turkey Letter: 25 April 2016

Foreign Policy

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel Pushes EU Migrant Deal in Turkey Visit
  • Turkey fulfills 61 of 72 benchmarks for visa-free travel to Europe
  • Talks with Israel advancing toward final step, Turkey says
  • NATO Secretary General thanks Turkey for long-standing contribution to the Alliance
  • US ‘discontented’ with media freedoms in Turkey
  • Turkey Ponders New Measures to Stop Islamic State Rocket Attacks
  • US-led coalition hits ISIL in Syria after deadly cross-border shelling on Turkey’s Kilis
  • Armenian migrants in Turkey live in shadow of century-old massacre
  • Merkel: It Was a Mistake to Criticize Comedian’s Erdogan Commentary

Economy & Energy

  • Turkey’s Growth Remains Resilient, IMF Says
  • Turkey’s Central Bank Chief Cuts Key Rate in Inaugural Move
  • Obama, Merkel Urge Action on Trade Agreement
  • Beaches and Bars Lose Allure in Turkey as Bombings Fray Nerves

Domestic Politics

  • Turkish Court Overturns Coup Plot Convictions of Generals
  • Four Turkish academics charged with terror propaganda released
  • A new voice from the opposition in Turkey

Foreign Policy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Pushes EU Migrant Deal in Turkey Visit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top European Union officials on Saturday visited southeastern Turkey in an effort to give fresh momentum to a deal sealed last month between Brussels and Ankara to help alleviate the refugee crisis.

Wall Street Journal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel Pushes EU Migrant Deal in Turkey Visit, April 23, 2016


Turkey fulfills 61 of 72 benchmarks for visa-free travel to Europe

Turkey has fulfilled 61 of 72 criteria required for its citizens to travel to Schengen countries without a visa and plans to complete the adoption of the remaining seven international conventions and four laws before May 4, the date the EU Commission will outline its advisory report.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey fulfills 61 of 72 benchmarks for visa-free travel to Europe, April 22, 2016


Talks with Israel advancing toward final step, Turkey says

The normalization of relations with Israel is expected to begin as negotiations between the two countries advance toward the final step, Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said April 25.

Hurriyet Daily News, Talks with Israel advancing toward final step, Turkey says, April 25, 2016


NATO Secretary General thanks Turkey for long-standing contribution to the Alliance

Visiting Turkey on Thursday (21 April) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and Minister of Defence İsmet Yılmaz.

NATO, NATO Secretary General thanks Turkey for long-standing contribution to the Alliance, April 21, 2016


US ‘discontented’ with media freedoms in Turkey

“I wouldn’t get up here every week and talk about this and express our concerns if we were content with what we’re seeing with the way journalists are being treated there [Turkey]. We’re not content,” Kirby said in response to insistent questions on whether the U.S. conveyed a serious massage to Turkish politicians on the matter, during the daily press briefing on April 20.

Hurriyet Daily News, US ‘discontented’ with media freedoms in Turkey, April 25, 2016


Turkey Ponders New Measures to Stop Islamic State Rocket Attacks

Turkey’s cabinet will convene on Monday to discuss new measures to try to stop intensified rocket barrages on its frontier by Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria. Rockets killed two people on Sunday in the Turkish border city of Kilis, where refugees from Syria’s war outnumber locals, raising to 17 the death toll there from such attacks this year, Hurriyet newspaper reported on Monday. Turkey claims to have killed hundreds of Islamic State fighters in cross-border shelling since January, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

Bloomberg, Turkey Ponders New Measures to Stop Islamic State Rocket Attacks, April 25, 2016


US-led coalition hits ISIL in Syria after deadly cross-border shelling on Turkey’s Kilis

The U.S.-led coalition hit Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in northern Syria, located directly across Turkey’s Syrian border from the southeastern province of Kilis, after receiving coordinates from Turkey on April 25. The air strikes came in response to a series of ISIL attacks on Kilis, which houses more Syrian refugees than its population. A total of 17 people have died, while more than 50 others have been wounded in ISIL attacks since Jan. 18.

Hurriyet Daily News, US-led coalition hits ISIL in Syria after deadly cross-border shelling on Turkey’s Kilis, April 25, 2016


Armenian migrants in Turkey live in shadow of century-old massacre

A century after her forebears fled massacres in Turkey for Armenia, Alla has gone the other way, hoping to win Turkish citizenship after leaving her impoverished homeland. She works as a nanny in Turkey but fears deportation, one of thousands of undocumented workers from the former Soviet republic who feel hostage to a decades-old diplomatic dispute. The conflict dates back to the killings of up to 1.5 million Christian Armenians by Ottoman Muslims, which was commemorated on Sunday, with tensions between Armenia and its Turkey-backed neighbour, Azerbaijan, especially amplified this year.

Reuters, Armenian migrants in Turkey live in shadow of century-old massacre, April 24, 2016


Merkel: It Was a Mistake to Criticize Comedian’s Erdogan Commentary

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday she had made a mistake earlier this month when she publicly criticized a German comedian’s poem ridiculing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Wall Street Journal, Merkel: It Was a Mistake to Criticize Comedian’s Erdogan Commentary, April 22, 2016


Economy & Energy

Turkey’s Growth Remains Resilient, IMF Says

Turkey’s economic growth remains resilient despite political turmoil and the continuing risk of external shocks, the International Monetary Fund said Friday, forecasting that the economy will grow by 3.8% this year.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey’s Growth Remains Resilient, IMF Says, April 22, 2016


Turkey’s Central Bank Chief Cuts Key Rate in Inaugural Move

Turkey’s central bank cut a key interest rate Wednesday, with incoming Governor Murat Cetinkaya kicking off his tenure by accelerating a policy-easing cycle in the face of slowing inflation and a stabilizing domestic currency.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey’s Central Bank Chief Cuts Key Rate in Inaugural Move, April 20, 2016


Obama, Merkel Urge Action on Trade Agreement

President Barack Obama made an emphatic pitch for international trade deals during a visit to this German city Sunday, as he and Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to lift momentum for a trans-Atlantic agreement that is facing resistance in both countries. The two leaders called on negotiators to move forward with the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, saying the window to strike a deal soon could close.

Wall Street Journal, Obama, Merkel Urge Action on Trade Agreement, April 24, 2016


Beaches and Bars Lose Allure in Turkey as Bombings Fray Nerves

Tensions with Russia and a succession of deadly bombings blamed on Islamic State and Kurdish militants are scaring away visitors from the world’s sixth-most popular holiday destination. Shuttered hotels and canceled flights are eating into the foreign currency inflows the economy needs to keep its current-account gap under control. Tourism revenue may fall below $20 billion this year for the first time since 2008, according to political risk consultants Eurasia Group.

Bloomberg, Beaches and Bars Lose Allure in Turkey as Bombings Fray Nerves, April 20, 2016


Domestic Politics

Turkish Court Overturns Coup Plot Convictions of Generals

A Turkish appeals court on Thursday overturned the convictions of 275 people, including top generals, for allegedly trying to overthrow the government, a major turn in a decade-spanning case that has polarized the country.

Wall Street Journal, Turkish Court Overturns Coup Plot Convictions of Generals, April 21, 2016


Four Turkish academics charged with terror propaganda released

An Istanbul court ordered the release of four Turkish academics on April 22 on the first hearing of a trial opened against them for making  “terrorist propaganda” when they read out a joint petition in January signed by over 1000 colleagues calling on the government to end the security operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Hurriyet Daily News, Four Turkish academics charged with terror propaganda released, April 22, 2016


A new voice from the opposition in Turkey

Selin Sayek Boke, the spokesperson for Turkey’s largest opposition group, outlined in an interview a broad program her party is crafting to challenge the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Washington Post, A new voice from the opposition in Turkey, April 20, 2016