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TUSIAD Turkey Letter: 1 April 2013

THIS WEEK:
FOREIGN POLICY
• U.S. and Turkey discuss Iraq, Syria over the weekend
• Economy Minister Çağlayan arrives in the U.S.
• Turkey denies mass deportation of Syrian refugees
• Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia sign cooperation deal
• Hagel expresses admiration for Turkey and Atatürk
ECONOMY / ENERGY
• Turkey’s growth slows sharply
• Standard & Poor’s upgrades Turkey
• Turkey-Iran gold-for-gas hits $120 million in a month
• Israel and Turkey explore energy ties 

FOREIGN POLICY

U.S. and Turkey discuss Iraq, Syria over the weekend

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu discussed the situation in Iraq and Syria during a March 30 phone call. On Syria, the discussion centered on the measures to be taken regarding a warning by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon regarding the Syrian government’s use of Scud missiles against rebel forces in populated areas and the possible use of chemical weapons in President Bashar al-Assad’s arsenal.
~~~
Hurriyet Daily News, 1 April 2013, U.S. and Turkey discuss Iraq, Syria over the weekend

Economy Minister Çağlayan arrives in the U.S.

Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan arrived in the U.S. on April 1 for a five day visit. During his visit, he will hold meetings in Houston,

Austin, and Los Angeles. During his visit, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will be the main agenda item.
~~~
World Bulletin, 1 April 2013, Turkish Airlines begins Houston flights
Ihlas Haber Ajansi, 20 March 2013, Bakan Çağlayan ABD’ye gidiyor

Turkey denies mass deportation of Syrian refugees

Turkey denied on Thursday it had rounded up and deported hundreds of Syrian refugees following unrest at a border camp, highlighting the strain the exodus from Syria’s civil war is placing on neighboring states.

Witnesses said hundreds of Syrians were bussed to the border after March 27 clashes in which refugees near the Turkish town of Akçakale threw rocks at military police. One official at the camp said 600-700 people had been deported including those identified from security camera footage as being involved in the violence, along with their families. “Deportations to Syria would be, if they occurred, against the principles of international law. So we are very much hoping this didn’t occur,” said Melissa Fleming, chief spokeswoman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Turkey changed its stance on Thursday, saying that the refugees would not be deported but had agreed to leave voluntarily after having been told that they would face prosecution if they stayed. The Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said the group of refugees “wanted to use the right to voluntary return, and left for Syria.”
~~~
Reuters, 28 March 2013, Turkey denies mass deportation of Syrian refugees
New York Times, 28 March 2013, Turkey and Israel feel the effects as Syria’s civil war fuels tension at borders

Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia sign cooperation deal

The foreign ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia convened for a tripartite meeting on March 29 to discuss bilateral ties and regional cooperation in the Georgian port city of Batumi. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov and Georgian counterpart Maia Panjikidze signed a cooperation deal aimed at enhancing the existing mutual trust and cooperation. Speaking at a press conference following the trilateral meeting, Davutoğlu said that strengthening of relations between the three countries will be a boost to the stability of the region. Underlining the importance of Baku-Tbilis-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilis-Erzurum natural gas pipeline and Baku-Tbilis-Kars railway projects in fields of energy and transportation, Davutoğlu noted that the cooperation deal would not only strengthen the relations among the three countries, but also ensure the establishment of an area of welfare in the region in line with its main objective.
~~~
Turkish Press Review, 29 March 2013, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia sign cooperation deal

Hagel expresses admiration for Turkey and Atatürk

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed on March 29 that he admired Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, and the Turkish people and state in his first press conference in the Pentagon. “Atatürk has done something that was very significant that has had a very important sustaining legacy in the world. And sometimes we – we in the West don’t fully appreciate what Atatürk did,” said Hagel. Stating that the recent rapprochement between Turkey and Israel is critically important to the region, Hagel said that this would affect Syria, as well as the results in the region.
~~~
Turkish Press Review, 29 March 2013, Hagel expresses admiration for Turkey and Ataturk
Department of Defense, 28 March 2013, News Transcript: DOD news briefing with Secretary Hagel and Gen. Dempsey from the Pentagon

ECONOMY / ENERGY

Turkey’s growth slows sharply

Turkey’s rate of economic growth slowed sharply to 2.2% in 2012, the Turkish statistics agency said, as weak domestic demand and spillover from the European debt crisis took its toll after two years of rapid expansion. Turkey’s gross domestic product expanded just 1.4% in the fourth quarter.

The steep drop in economic activity was largely engineered by Turkey’s central bank, which dramatically tightened policy after Turkey’s expansion averaging 9% in 2010-2011 spurred investor fears that the economy was overheating. Some ministers in Turkey’s government, however, have accused central bank Gov. Erdem Başçı of grinding domestic demand to a halt and choking growth with a policy out of step with global risk appetite.
~~~
Bloomberg, 27 March 2013, Çağlayan says crisis is Turkey’s chance to close development gap
Wall Street Journal, 1 April 1 2013, Turkey’s growth slows sharply

Standard & Poor’s upgrades Turkey

Standard & Poor’s has raised Turkey’s sovereign debt rating by one notch to “BB+”. It puts the country on a rating just one step below investment grade meaning it is gradually becoming an attractive investment prospect. The upgrade is said to be due to improved exports and Ankara’s progress in a peace process with Kurdish militants.
~~~
Euronews, 28 March 2013, Standard & Poor’s upgrades Turkey
Turkish Press Review, 29 March 2013, Babacan, Caglayan evaluate S&P upgrade in Turkey’s credit rating

Turkey-Iran gold-for-gas hits $120 million in a month

Turkey exported almost $120 million worth of gold to Iran in February, suggesting the two countries’ trade of gold for natural gas has resumed despite tighter U.S. sanctions, though at levels below last year’s peaks. Turkey sold no gold to Iran in January, according to data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TUIK), as banks and dealers eyed the Feb. 6 implementation of U.S. sanctions that tightened control over precious metal sales. The United States has given Turkey a six-month waiver exempting it from sanctions on trade with Iran, which is due to expire in July, but banks and dealers still have been cautious. Meanwhile, exports to the United Arab Emirates, which has served in the past as a transit route to Tehran, rose to $402.3 million from $371 million in January, TUIK data showed.
~~~
Hurriyet Daily News, 1 April 2013, Turkey-Iran gold-for-gas hits $120 million in a month

Israel and Turkey explore energy ties

Israel’s apology to Turkey over a deadly 2010 raid will boost cooperation over Syria’s civil war, but it also has a compelling economic incentive: the possible export of billions of dollars of Israeli natural gas to Turkey and beyond, say analysts and officials.

Quiet contacts between Israel and Turkey over gas cooperation have been going on in recent months, but both sides knew nothing could progress before the dispute over the raid was resolved, said Alon Liel, a former Israeli envoy to Turkey with knowledge of the talks.
~~~
Wall Street Journal, 26 March 2013, Israel and Turkey explore energy ties
New York Times, 27 March 2013, For Cyprus, a sudden need to play nice with Turkey
Hurriyet Daily News, 1 April 2013, U.S. and Turkey discuss Iraq, Syria over the weekend

 

These news items are compiled by TUSIAD Washington Representative Office (TUSIAD-US) from major news publications. They do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of TUSIAD. To subscribe or unsubscribe from this electronic publication, please send an e-mail to [email protected] These materials may be reproduced and/or distributed, in whole or in part, provided that its source is properly indicated as “TUSIAD-US Web site: www.tusiad.us”.