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Turkey Letter: 25 January 2016

Foreign Policy

  • Vice President Biden criticizes crackdown on dissent in Turkey
  • Turkey’s difficulties with Syrian Kurds complicate strategy against Islamic State
  • Turkish PM says no role for “terrorist groups” in Syria talks
  • Merkel Wrings Pledge From Turkey to Halt Refugee Flow to Europe
  • Pentagon chief says Turkey could do more in fight against Islamic State
  • U.S. offers Turkey technology to block Islamic State at Syria border

Economy and Energy

  • Turkey’s Central Bank Shelves Monetary Policy Shift Despite Soaring Inflation
  • Turkey Encourages Domestic Savings Amid Foreign Capital Flight
  • PM expresses appreciation for global business interest in Turkey at Davos
  • Turkey ranked 36th most innovative country in report

Domestic Politics

  • Mustafa Koc, Head of Turkey’s Largest Group of Companies, Dies
  • Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition will join work on new constitution
  • No more talks with PKK, vows Erdoğan
  • Some 200,000 at risk in Turkey’s fight against Kurdish militants: Amnesty
  • Five children hurt in school attack in southeast Turkey blamed on PKK

Foreign Policy

Vice President Biden criticizes crackdown on dissent in Turkey

Vice President Biden urged “a change of attitude” by the Turkish government toward its domestic critics Friday, saying that the media and all others here must be free to “challenge orthodoxy,” including political and religious beliefs, if Turkey is to thrive.

Washington Post, Vice President Biden criticizes crackdown on dissent in Turkey, January 22, 2016


Turkey’s difficulties with Syrian Kurds complicate strategy against Islamic State

Turkey and the United States continued Saturday to disagree about the status of Kurdish forces who have become a key part of the U.S. strategy to defeat the Islamic State in Syria.

Washington Post, Turkey’s difficulties with Syrian Kurds complicate strategy against Islamic State, January 23, 2016


Turkish PM says no role for “terrorist groups” in Syria talks

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accused Russia on Thursday of jeopardizing peace talks on Syria planned for next week by insisting on the inclusion of “terrorist groups” such as the Kurdish YPG militia on the opposition side.

Reuters, Turkish PM says no role for “terrorist groups” in Syria talks, January 21, 2016


Merkel Wrings Pledge From Turkey to Halt Refugee Flow to Europe

Turkey pledged to ratchet up efforts to halt the flow of refugees bound for Europe, offering German Chancellor Angela Merkel a lifeline as she vowed to stand by her open-door policy while targeting the root causes of migration.

Bloomberg, Merkel Wrings Pledge From Turkey to Halt Refugee Flow to Europe, January 22, 2016


Pentagon chief says Turkey could do more in fight against Islamic State

Turkey could do more in the fight against Islamic State militants, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said on Friday. “Turkey is a longtime friend of ours. It’s a NATO ally. We’re strongly in support of it. We stand with it in terms of defense of its own territory,” Carter said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Reuters, Pentagon chief says Turkey could do more in fight against Islamic State, January 23, 2016


U.S. offers Turkey technology to block Islamic State at Syria border

The United States is accelerating efforts to help Turkey clamp down on its border with Syria, senior U.S. officials said, and for the first time will offer technologies to Ankara to help it secure the frontier.

Reuters, U.S. offers Turkey technology to block Islamic State at Syria border, January 20, 2016


Economy and Energy

Turkey’s Central Bank Shelves Monetary Policy Shift Despite Soaring Inflation

Turkey’s central bank kept interest rates steady on Tuesday, delaying a long-promised policy shift for a second consecutive month as the lira dallies with record lows and runaway inflation expectations cloud the economic outlook.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey’s Central Bank Shelves Monetary Policy Shift Despite Soaring Inflation, January 19, 2016


Turkey Encourages Domestic Savings Amid Foreign Capital Flight

Turkey’s government is considering automatically enrolling all employees in the private pension system to increase savings and shield the economy from shifts in foreign capital flows, Turkey’s Development Minister Cevdet Yilmaz said in an interview in Ankara.

Bloomberg, Turkey Encourages Domestic Savings Amid Foreign Capital Flight, January 19, 2016


PM expresses appreciation for global business interest in Turkey at Davos

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met with heads of the world’s largest companies at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 20. Davutoğlu and CEOs from around the world discussed projects worth more than $3 billion value in the sectors of finance, infrastructure, logistics and industry.

Hurriyet Daily News, PM expresses appreciation for global business interest in Turkey at Davos, January 22, 2016


Turkey ranked 36th most innovative country in report

Turkey is the 36th most innovative country in the world, according to the recently released Bloomberg Innovation Index. With a score of 60.92, Turkey ranked 36 out of 84 countries in the 2016 index, retaining its position from 2015 after it had moved up a spot in 2014.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey ranked 36th most innovative country in report, January 25, 2016


Domestic Politics

Mustafa Koc, Head of Turkey’s Largest Group of Companies, Dies

Mustafa Vehbi Koc, chairman of Turkey’s biggest group of companies, died at a hospital in Istanbul on Thursday after a heart attack. He was 55. Koc, the eldest grandson of Koc Holding AS founder Vehbi Koc, led the group, whose 2014 sales of $31.3 billion accounted for about 5 percent of Turkey’s gross domestic product, for about 13 years after taking over from his father.

Bloomberg, Mustafa Koc, Head of Turkey’s Largest Group of Companies, Dies, January 21, 2016


Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition will join work on new constitution

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said on Sunday it would take part in a parliamentary commission charged with drafting a new constitution and would challenge the ruling AK Party’s plans for a strong executive presidency.

Reuters, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition will join work on new constitution, January 24, 2016


No more talks with PKK, vows Erdoğan

Ankara will no longer engage in contact with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and will instead “liquidate” all PKK militants through ongoing security operations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed.

Hurriyet Daily News, No more talks with PKK, vows Erdoğan, January 20, 2016


Some 200,000 at risk in Turkey’s fight against Kurdish militants: Amnesty

Security operations in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast have put up to 200,000 people at risk, placing them in the crossfire or cutting them off from emergency and basic services such as water, rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Reuters, Some 200,000 at risk in Turkey’s fight against Kurdish militants: Amnesty, January 21, 2016


Five children hurt in school attack in southeast Turkey blamed on PKK

Five children were hurt on Friday when an explosive ripped through a schoolyard in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, a region gripped by violence between militants and state security forces for months, security sources said.

Reuters, Five children hurt in school attack in southeast Turkey blamed on PKK, January 22, 2016