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Turkey Letter: 27 March 2017

Foreign Politics

  • Erdogan says Turkey may hold referendum on EU accession bid
  • Erdogan warns Europeans ‘will not walk safely’ if attitude persists, as row carries on
  • Turkey-EU ties to ‘relatively normalize’ after elections in Europe: Turkish PM
  • German veto on arms exports to Turkey ‘unacceptable’: Minister
  • Turkey won’t accept ‘region of terror’ in northern Syria, deputy PM says
  • Turkey says soldier killed by sniper shot fired from Syria
  • Three million new migrants may come to Turkey from Iran: Deputy PM
  • Turkey says negotiating with aviation authorities on electronics ban

Economy & Energy

  • Turkish lira firms to strongest level since end of February
  • Turkish Central Bank sees ‘gradual and slow’ recovery in 2017
  • Turkey to Suspend Plan to Sell $10 Billion of Seized Firms
  • EBRD chief does not expect Turkey’s political strain with Europe to affect economic ties
  • Istanbul’s tourism may lose 2017, urgent measures needed: Association
  • Gas Talks With Turkey May Wrap Up in Summer, Says Israel Energy Minister

Domestic Politics

  • Turkey’s referendum race is still neck and neck: Konda pollster
  • ‘Threshold and election procedure could change’: PM Yıldırım
  • Some Kurds in Turkey Protest Referendum During Festival
  • They target me because they can’t criticize US or Russia: CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu
  • Trial into Gülen network’s ‘media leg’ begins in Istanbul

Foreign Politics

Erdogan says Turkey may hold referendum on EU accession bid

President Tayyip Erdogan said on March 25 that Turkey may hold a second referendum on whether to continue with European Union accession talks, following a planned vote on April 16 that could give him sweeping new powers.

Reuters, Erdogan says Turkey may hold referendum on EU accession bid, March 25, 2017


Erdogan warns Europeans ‘will not walk safely’ if attitude persists, as row carries on

President Tayyip Erdogan said on March 22 that Europeans would not be able to walk safely on the streets if they kept up their current attitude toward Turkey, his latest salvo in a row over campaigning by Turkish politicians in Europe.

Reuters, Erdogan warns Europeans ‘will not walk safely’ if attitude persists, as row carries on, March 22, 2017


Turkey-EU ties to ‘relatively normalize’ after elections in Europe: Turkish PM

Relations between Turkey and European Union member states will “relatively normalize” after the completion of a series of elections in Europe, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on March 27.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey-EU ties to ‘relatively normalize’ after elections in Europe: Turkish PM, March 27, 2017


German veto on arms exports to Turkey ‘unacceptable’: Minister

It is unacceptable that Germany, an ally of Turkey, has passed a veto on arms exports to Turkey, the defense minister said March 23. His remarks came over a recent report in a German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, on March 21 that Germany had refused an unusually high number of requests for arms exports to Turkey in recent months due to mounting concerns about deteriorating human rights in the NATO country.

Hurriyet Daily News, German veto on arms exports to Turkey ‘unacceptable’: Minister, March 24, 2017


Turkey won’t accept ‘region of terror’ in northern Syria, deputy PM says

Turkey will not accept a “region of terror” in northern Syria and the ethnic structure of the area should be kept intact, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on March 27, comments that appeared aimed at a Syrian-Kurdish militia. His comments came after the Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia said Russia was setting up a military base in northwestern Syria and would help train YPG fighters.

Reuters, Turkey won’t accept ‘region of terror’ in northern Syria, deputy PM says, March 27, 2017


Turkey says soldier killed by sniper shot fired from Syria

Turkey’s military says a sniper shot fired from across the border in Syria has killed a Turkish soldier. The officials said the sniper shot was fired from a region held by U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, YPG.

Associated Press, Turkey says soldier killed by sniper shot fired from Syria, March 22, 2017


Three million new migrants may come to Turkey from Iran: Deputy PM

A fresh migration wave with three million migrants is currently in the phase of mobilization from Iran to Turkey, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said March 26. Kaynak also expressed Ankara’s concern over Tehran’s indifference for the migration to Turkey.

Hurriyet Daily News, Three million new migrants may come to Turkey from Iran: Deputy PM, March 26, 2017


Turkey says negotiating with aviation authorities on electronics ban       

Turkey is negotiating with international aviation authorities on easing the conditions of a ban barring passengers from carrying large carry-on electronics on U.S. and Britain-bound flights, Turkish Transportation Minister Ahmet Arslan said on March 25.

Reuters, Turkey says negotiating with aviation authorities on electronics ban, March 25, 2017


Economy & Energy

Turkish lira firms to strongest level since end of February

The Turkish lira firmed below 3.60 against the U.S. dollar at 1326 GMT on Tuesday, the strongest level the currency has seen since the end of February. This came on the heels of a rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve and unorthodox tightening steps by the Turkish Central Bank last week.

Reuters, Turkish lira firms to strongest level since end of February, March 21, 2017


Turkish Central Bank sees ‘gradual and slow’ recovery in 2017

The Central Bank expects economic activity to pick up gradually this year, while acknowledging that data for the first quarter suggests the recovery is not yet widespread, according to the minutes of its latest policy meeting published on March 23.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish Central Bank sees ‘gradual and slow’ recovery in 2017, March 24, 2017


Turkey to Suspend Plan to Sell $10 Billion of Seized Firms

Turkey put on hold a plan to sell almost 600 companies worth about $10 billion that were seized in the aftermath of a failed military coup, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Bloomberg, Turkey to Suspend Plan to Sell $10 Billion of Seized Firms, March 23, 2017


EBRD chief does not expect Turkey’s political strain with Europe to affect economic ties

The head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has said the bank does not expect Turkey’s strained ties with Europe to spill over to their economic relations, adding that Turkey will likely become the top recipient of the lender’s funds in 2017.

Hurriyet Daily News, EBRD chief does not expect Turkey’s political strain with Europe to affect economic ties, March 27, 2017


Istanbul’s tourism may lose 2017, urgent measures needed: Association

Despite a slight increase in hotel occupancy rates across Turkey in February, Istanbul’s hotels continued to lose ground, according to data from STR Global, which was released by the Hotels Association of Turkey (TÜROB) on March 27. TÜROB President Timur Bayındır said Istanbul’s tourism needs urgent measures implemented, otherwise, the city will lose 2017 as well.

Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul’s tourism may lose 2017, urgent measures needed: Association, March 27, 2017


Gas Talks With Turkey May Wrap Up in Summer, Says Israel Energy Minister

Talks between government officials on building a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey may conclude as early as this summer, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on March 21.

Bloomberg, Gas Talks With Turkey May Wrap Up in Summer, Says Israel Energy Minister, March 21, 2017


Domestic Politics

Turkey’s referendum race is still neck and neck: Konda pollster

The race ahead of the April 16 referendum on constitutional changes shifting Turkey to an executive presidential system is still close, with the ruling AKP needing to convince the undecided voters among its constituency, according to Bekir Ağırdır, the general director of polling company Konda.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s referendum race is still neck and neck: Konda pollster, March 27, 2017


‘Threshold and election procedure could change’: PM Yıldırım

The 10 percent election threshold may be changed if the constitutional amendment passes at the referendum, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said, noting that because the new system will “provide stability,” there will no longer be reason to fear potential instability – the ostensible reason the threshold was inserted in the 1982 Constitution.

Hurriyet Daily News, ‘Threshold and election procedure could change’: PM Yıldırım, March 27, 2017


Some Kurds in Turkey Protest Referendum During Festival

Newroz celebrations on March 21 mixed peacefully with protests against expanding the powers of Turkey’s president. Many flags proclaimed “No” in the Turkish and Kurdish languages, referring to the April 16 referendum.

Associated Press, Some Kurds in Turkey Protest Referendum During Festival, March 21, 2017


They target me because they can’t criticize US or Russia: CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu

The leaders of the “yes” camp in the referendum campaign cannot successfully defend their position, so prefer to attack the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its leader, CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said. Kılıçdaroğlu said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan cannot target the U.S. and Russia, so instead targets the CHP.

Hurriyet Daily News, They target me because they can’t criticize US or Russia: CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu, March 26, 2017


Trial into Gülen network’s ‘media leg’ begins in Istanbul

The trial into the “media leg” of the Gülen network, believed to have orchestrated the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, has begun in Istanbul with a total of 29 suspects.

Hurriyet Daily News, Trial into Gülen network’s ‘media leg’ begins in Istanbul, March 27, 2017