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TUSIAD Turkey Letter: 15 October 2013

THIS WEEK
FOREIGN POLICY
• TUSIAD Washington Representative Office marks 15 years in Washington
• Turkey’s spymaster plots own course on Syria
• President Gül said Israel’s apology to Turkey is “too late”
• Erdoğan met with Hamas leader Meshaal
• Davutoğlu said Turkey is looking for ‘creative ideas’ to develop ties with Armenia
• Bağış said EU countries should lift visa requirements
• Turkey’s pivoting to the East
DOMESTIC POLITICS
• Turkey’s parliament renews permission for military operations
• Turkey builds domestic defense industry
• Turkey cracks down on cleavage
ECONOMY & ENERGY
• Turkey’s first nuclear power plant likely to be delayed
• Turkey targets credit cards in battle to cut current account gap 

 

FOREIGN POLICY

TUSIAD Washington Representative Office marks 15 years in Washington

The TUSIAD Board of Directors and nearly 50 TUSIAD members’ Washington visit marked the 15th anniversary of the Washington Representative Office on October 10 – 11. The establishment of a representative office in Washington 15 years ago reflects the Turkish business world’s appreciation of the importance of the bilateral relationship and has demonstrated the recognition of the potential for greater economic and political ties between Turkey and the United States.
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TUSIAD US, 15 October 2013, TUSIAD Washington Representative Office marks 15 years in Washington

Turkey’s spymaster plots own course on Syria

Since Hakan Fidan, Turkey’s spymaster and Prime Minister Erdoğan’s second man, took over Turkey’s national-intelligence apparatus, the Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, or MIT, in 2010, Fidan has shifted the agency’s focus to match Erdoğan’s. His growing role has met a mixture of alarm, suspicion and grudging respect in Washington, where officials see him as a reliable surrogate for Erdoğan in dealing with broader regional issues—the futures of Egypt, Libya and Syria, among them—that the Arab Spring has brought to the bilateral table.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe Fidan doesn’t aim to undercut the U.S. but to advance Erdoğan’s interests. In recent months, as radical Islamists expanded into northern Syria along the Turkish border, Turkish officials have begun to recalibrate their policy—concerned not about U.S. complaints but about the threat to Turkey’s security, say U.S. and Turkish officials.
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Wall Street Journal, 10 October 2013, Turkey’s spymaster plots own course on Syria

President Gül said Israel’s apology to Turkey is “too late”

President Abdullah Gül told an Israeli daily that Israel apologized to Turkey “too late” after Israeli navy commandoes stormed a Turkish ship. In late March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had apologized to Turkey over the raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship. After the apology, Turkish and Israeli officials began talks in April on compensation for families of the victims of the aid ship, one of the Turkish conditions for restoring relations with Israel.

Gül, responding to a question by the Yedioth Ahronoth daily after a meeting of the Istanbul Forum last week, said: “In order to end this conflict and the difference of opinion between us, we had certain expectations of Israel. Israel responded to part of our expectations when it apologized. But this step was taken at a late stage; Israel apologized too late. Some of our expectations have not yet been met.”
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Turkish Press Review, 8 October 2013, Gül says Israel’s apology to Turkey ‘too late’

Erdoğan met with Hamas leader Meshaal

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on October 8 at the prime ministry official residence in Ankara. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan were also present at the meeting, which was closed to the press. Efforts for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, the situation in Gaza and the recent developments in Syria were reportedly at the focus of the meeting.
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Turkish Press Review, 9 October 2013, Erdoğan meets with Hamas leader Meshaal

Davutoğlu said Turkey is looking for ‘creative ideas’ to develop ties with Armenia

Turkey is looking for “creative ideas” to develop relations with Armenia, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on October 11, adding that Ankara was giving a lot of importance to the normalization of ties. Coincidentally speaking in Switzerland where both countries signed a landmark protocol four years ago to the day, Davutoğlu said Turkey would increase efforts on the issue in the coming months. “We made serious efforts to put the protocol into effect four years ago. However, it was not possible to implement it because of the decision of the Armenian Constitutional Court. Now we are looking to develop it and advance with creative ideas and new ways of thinking.” said Davutoğlu.
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Hürriyet Daily News, 11 October 2013, Turkey looking for ‘creative ideas’ to develop ties with Armenia

Bağış said EU countries should lift visa requirements

As a part of his contacts during his official visit to Greece, Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış met with Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Kurkulas in Athens, where the two ministers held a joint press conference. Stating that all of the matters between Greece and Turkey have been discussed during the meeting, referring to the Cyprus issue, the Turkish minority in Western Thrace, the mosque situation in Athens and the opening of the Halki seminary in Turkey, Bağış noted that visa requirements imposed on Turkish citizens was not fair and they should be lifted as soon as possible. Underlying the importance of taking bilateral steps towards the resolution of problems, Bağış said they believed that the two countries were courageous enough to show the will.
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Turkish Press Review, 08 October 2013, EU countries should lift visa requirements, says Bağış

Turkey’s pivoting to the East

In January, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that because his country’s talks to join the European Union had stalled, he might seek instead to join China and Russia in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Few took the threat seriously; Turkey has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since the 1950s. Yet the government’s decision late last month to award a $3 billion air and missile defense system contract to a state-run company from China suggests that Erdoğan is turning east to look for new security partners.
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Bloomberg, 7 October 2013, Turkey’s Unwise Pivot to the East

DOMESTIC POLITICS

Turkey’s parliament renews permission for military operations

Kurdish rebels have criticized reforms unveiled by Turkey’s government and said that could lead them to end a unilateral cease-fire they began six months ago. The rebel declaration, carried by the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency on October 10, said the government’s position in the coming days will determine “whether the cease-fire will continue.”

The government hasn’t attacked rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, since the cease-fire began. But the PKK recently suspended its pullout from Turkish territory, accusing the government of failing to grant Kurds more rights. Turkey has frequently struck targets in Iraq, where the PKK has bases, and earlier October 10 parliament extended the military’s right to do that for another year.
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Washington Post, 10 October 2013, Kurdish rebels consider ending cease-fire, saying Turkish reforms have fallen short

Turkey builds domestic defense industry

Many countries have tried to use offset programs to create an indigenous defense industry, but Turkey is one of the closest to succeeding. Despite persistent doubts about the efficiency of the country’s defense industry and the realism of its ambition to be self sufficient, Turkey’s 30-year journey has yielded an indigenous capability other developing countries are still far from matching.
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Financial Times, 9 October 2013, Turkey builds domestic defense industry

Turkey cracks down on cleavage

Turkey’s government, which ended a headscarf ban for civil servants (except in the judiciary and security services) last week, caused this week a female TV music-show presenter to be fired for showing too much cleavage. The secular Turks are worried about what else the democratization package that the Prime Minister Erdoğan unveiled last week might cause.
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Bloomberg, 9 October 2013, Turkey cracks down on cleavage

ECONOMY & ENERGY

Turkey’s first nuclear power plant likely to be delayed

Turkey’s first planned 4,800 megawatt (MW) nuclear plant, being built by Russia’s Rosatom, is already falling behind schedule, with the first reactor unlikely to be operational by 2019 as planned. “Production in 2019 is not possible. 2020 is more likely,” one source close to the project told Reuters on October 8, noting that a nuclear reactor on this scale would need a test period of at least six to 12 months before it could be fully operational.
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Reuters, 8 October 2013, Turkey’s first nuclear power plant likely to be delayed

Turkey targets credit cards in battle to cut current account gap

Turkey introduced measures on October 9 to try to control rampant consumer loan growth and lift its domestic savings rate from historic lows, another front in its battle to reduce a gaping current account deficit. The regulations introduced by the BDDK banking watchdog focus on trying to curb debt-financed consumption by making credit card loans more costly for lenders and tightening spending limits for consumers.
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Reuters, 9 October 2013, Turkey targets credit cards in battle to cut current account gap

 

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