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TUSIAD Turkey Letter: 20 May 2013

THIS WEEK:
FOREIGN POLICY
• Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit to Washington, DC
• First group of withdrawing PKK militants arrives in northern Iraq
• Turkey increases security for Orthodox Patriarch following assassination plot claims
ECONOMY / ENERGY
• Turkey a “success story for the troubled IMF”
• A vindicated Turkey, now investment grade
• Turkish unemployment rate down to 9.2% in February
• Current account deficit drops to $5.4 billion in March
DOMESTIC POLITICS
• Turkey’s Kurtulmuş sets July deadline for new constitution

FOREIGN POLICY

Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit to Washington, DC

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met in Washington on May 16.

Syria and the economic relationship (TTIP) were two of the most important agenda items in the discussions. During a press conference, President Obama announced the creation of a high level committee to deepen economic relations between the U.S. and Turkey. On Syria, the two leaders agreed to keep increasing pressure on the Assad regime and working with the Syrian opposition. Erdoğan also attended a lunch in honor of Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as a reception hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce.

In regards to the creation of a bilateral High Level Committee, TUSIAD President Muharrem Yılmaz stated that “This effort will accelerate the improvement of bilateral economic relations and will constitute the first steps of a future free trade agreement between Turkey and the United States. But this is only a first step. We believe that Turkey should not be left out of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”

Erdoğan started his visit by attending a groundbreaking ceremony for the Turkish-American Culture and Civilization Center in Maryland. On the last day of his trip, Erdoğan spoke at a statesman’s forum at Brookings Institution, moderated by TUSIAD Senior Fellow Kemal Kirişçi.
~~~
White House, 16 May 2013, Joint press conference by President Obama and Prime Minister Erdoğan of Turkey
TUSIAD US, 20 May 2013, TUSIAD President on Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to Washington
Hurriyet Daily News, 20 May 2013, Turkish PM couldn’t get what he expected on Syria from US visit: NGO head
Turkish Press, 16 May 2013, Turkish PM attends groundbreaking ceremony for Turkish-American Culture Center
Washington Post, 13 May 2013, Turkey’s Syria policies are criticized as Erdogan prepares to meet with Obama
Wall Street Journal, 12 May 2013, Turkey blames Syria for deadly car bombs
Voice of America, 9 May 2013, Turkey PM warns Syria has used chemical weapons

First group of withdrawing PKK militants arrives in northern Iraq

A group of 15 militants from outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that left Turkey as part of a peace drive with Ankara arrived in the Harur area in nothern Iraq on May 14. PKK is withdrawing its militants in Turkey to northern Iraq upon orders from it jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan.
~~~
Hurriyet Daily News, 14 May 2013, First group of withdrawing PKK militants arrives in northern Iraq

Turkey increases security for Orthodox Patriarch following assassination plot claims

An official says Turkish authorities have tightened security for the Istanbul-based Orthodox Patriarchate following allegations of a plot to attack the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians. Unconfirmed local media reports said Friday police briefly detained a man following a tip that he planned to assassinate Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
~~~
Washington Post, 10 May 2013, Official: Turkey increases security for Orthodox Patriarch following assassination plot claims

ECONOMY / ENERGY

Turkey a “success story for the troubled IMF”

Turkey paid the last installment of its debt to the IMF on May 14, ending a period that goes as far back as the 1950s. Turkey has pledged to contribute $5 billion to the IMF.
~~~
Hurriyet Daily News, 20 May 2013, Turkey a “success story for the troubled IMF”

A vindicated Turkey, now investment grade

The nation’s economy got a vital boost on May 16 when Moody’s lifted its government bond ratings to investment grade; Fitch had already done so in November. Moody’s cited “recent and expected future improvements in key economic and public finance metrics.”
~~~
Bloomberg News, 19 May 2013, A vindicated Turkey, now investment grade

Turkish unemployment rate down to 9.2% in February

In the period of February 2013, the seasonally adjusted number of employed persons increased by 120 thousand and the number unemployed persons decreased by 29 thousand compared to the previous period. Seasonally adjusted labor force participation was 51 percent and employment rate 46.3 percent. The unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, a 0.2 percentage point decrease.
~~~
Trading Economics, 15 May 2013, Turkish unemployment rate down to 9.2 in February

Current account deficit drops to $5.4 billion in March

The current account deficit of Turkey dropped to $5.4 billion in March. For the January-March period it was $15.9 billion.
~~~
CNN Turk, 13 May 2013, Cari açık martta 5.4 milyar dolar

DOMESTIC POLITICS

Turkey’s Kurtulmuş sets July deadline for new constitution

The deputy chairman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, said July 1 is its deadline for reaching consensus on a new constitution. “The AKP will do what it can on the new constitution until July 1, and after that will evaluate other alternatives that arise in the period ahead,” Numan Kurtulmuş, who is also the party’s head of economic policy, said in an interview in Ankara on May 9.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said over the weekend that Turkey may see three elections next year — local elections, presidential elections and a referendum on a new constitution — should the efforts by the four political parties represented in Parliament to write a new constitution fail to bear fruit in the coming months.

The local elections would be held in March, the presidential elections are scheduled for August 2014, and depending on developments of the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, a referendum may be held later this year.
~~~
Businessweek, 10 May 2013, Turkey’s Kurtulmuş sets July deadline for new constitution
Today’s Zaman, 20 May 2013, PM’s words on three elections a tactic for reconciliation on constitution

 

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