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Turkey Letter: 28 March 2016

Foreign Policy

  • Turkish President Faces a Cool Reception in U.S. Visit
  • After an Indictment, Turks Give U.S. Prosecutor a Hero’s Welcome Online
  • Turkey Says It Deported One of Brussels Suicide Bombers in Summer
  • The mass migration of refugees from Turkey to Greece has stalled
  • Turkey’s Erdogan criticizes foreign diplomats for attending journalists’ trial
  • Turkish soldier killed in northern Iraq after Islamic State fires rockets: army
  • Turkey launches air strikes against PKK in Iraq, Turkey: army

Economy & Energy

  • Turkey’s Central Bank Cuts Overnight Lending Rate
  • Turkey Has Two-Headed Government, One Central Bank Chief to Pick
  • Turkish Stocks Climb Most in World as Rate Corridor Narrows
  • Top-Performing Emerging Market Sends a Slew of Bearish Signals
  • Turkey’s 2015 unemployment rate hits double digits
  • Israel’s Leviathan gas development at risk for delay: Noble
  • Turkey imports natural gas from US for first time

Domestic Policy

  • We owe it to Turkish people to end visa requirement, EU minister says
  • Turkey Abruptly Closes Espionage Trial of 2 Journalists to Public
  • Media outlets need to pursue the truth: Doğan chair
  • Gov’t to speed up process for new constitution with presidential system: PM
  • Council of Europe says detention of Turkish academics ‘unacceptable’

Foreign Policy

Turkish President Faces a Cool Reception in U.S. Visit

Obama turns down one-on-one meeting with Erdogan at nuclear summit, reflecting concerns about key ally’s crackdowns on dissent, Kurdish insurgents.

Wall Street Journal, Turkish President Faces a Cool Reception in U.S. Visit, March 27, 2016


After an Indictment, Turks Give U.S. Prosecutor a Hero’s Welcome Online

The indictment of a prominent Turkish businessman unsealed last week has made an unlikely hero of a man most Turks had never heard of: Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, who brought the charges against the tycoon, Reza Zarrab.

New York Times, After an Indictment, Turks Give U.S. Prosecutor a Hero’s Welcome Online, March 26, 2016


Turkey Says It Deported One of Brussels Suicide Bombers in Summer

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said his country had deported one of the Brussels suicide bombers this past summer, but the man was subsequently freed in the Netherlands because investigators couldn’t establish that he had any links to terror groups.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey Says It Deported One of Brussels Suicide Bombers in Summer, March 23, 2016


The mass migration of refugees from Turkey to Greece has stalled

The once-great wave of refugees motoring in cheap rubber rafts across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek islands has suddenly become a ripple. Where thousands arrived in a day, now hundreds — and some days far fewer — splash onto the Greek shores from Turkey, a possible sign that the largest mass migration of the 21st century is slowing or that refugees are changing course as Europe scrambles to erect new barriers.

Washington Post, The mass migration of refugees from Turkey to Greece has stalled, March 27, 2016


Turkey’s Erdogan criticizes foreign diplomats for attending journalists’ trial

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday harshly criticized foreign diplomats in Turkey for attending the trial of two prominent journalists charged with espionage, saying their behavior was not in line with diplomatic protocol.

Reuters, Turkey’s Erdogan criticizes foreign diplomats for attending journalists’ trial, March 26, 2016


Turkish soldier killed in northern Iraq after Islamic State fires rockets: army

A Turkish soldier was killed and another wounded in northern Iraq on Saturday when rockets fired by Islamic State during clashes with Iraqi Kurdish fighters landed in a base where Turkish troops were deployed, the army said.

Reuters, Turkish soldier killed in northern Iraq after Islamic State fires rockets: army, March 26, 2016


Turkey launches air strikes against PKK in Iraq, Turkey: army

Turkey’s military carried out air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq and killed 26 militants in southeast Turkey, where violence has flared since a ceasefire broke down last July, the armed forces said on Wednesday.

Reuters, Turkey launches air strikes against PKK in Iraq, Turkey: army, March 23, 2016


Economy & Energy

Turkey’s Central Bank Cuts Overnight Lending Rate

Turkey’s central bank on Thursday cut its overnight lending rate for the first time in more than a year, citing a decline in global financial volatility and signaling potentially looser monetary policies despite persistently high inflation.  The Monetary Policy Committee in Ankara said it cut the overnight lending rate to 10.5% from 10.75%, while keeping steady its benchmark one-week repo rate at 7.5% and its overnight borrowing rate at 7.25%.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey’s Central Bank Cuts Overnight Lending Rate, March 24, 2016


Turkey Has Two-Headed Government, One Central Bank Chief to Pick

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is at loggerheads with his premier over who should be the next central bank governor as the Turkish president pushes for a candidate amenable to cutting rates, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bloomberg, Turkey Has Two-Headed Government, One Central Bank Chief to Pick, March 24, 2016


Turkish Stocks Climb Most in World as Rate Corridor Narrows

Turkish stocks rose for the first time in three days and the lira pared its retreat following the central bank’s surprise decision to start narrowing its interest-rate corridor by cutting the overnight-lending rate. A key indicator signaled further reductions in the coming months.

Bloomberg, Turkish Stocks Climb Most in World as Rate Corridor Narrows, March 24, 2016


Top-Performing Emerging Market Sends a Slew of Bearish Signals

Turkey’s stock market, one of the world’s top performers this year, may be heading into a downturn, several indicators followed by technical analysts show. Buffeted by political strife, fear of terrorism and inflation of almost 9 percent, the benchmark Borsa Istanbul 100 Index’s rally is sputtering after its best eight-week run since mid-2014.

Bloomberg, Top-Performing Emerging Market Sends a Slew of Bearish Signals, March 24, 2016


Turkey’s 2015 unemployment rate hits double digits

The unemployment rate in Turkey rose 0.4 percentage points in 2015 to sit at 10.3 percent, hitting double digits for the first time since 2010, the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK) said in a statement on March 23

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s 2015 unemployment rate hits double digits, March 23, 2016


Israel’s Leviathan gas development at risk for delay: Noble

Noble Energy warned of the risk of a delay to the development of the Leviathan natural gas field off Israel’s coast after Israel’s Supreme Court blocked a crucial provision of a plan to develop the site.

Hurriyet Daily News, Israel’s Leviathan gas development at risk for delay: Noble, March 28, 2016


Turkey imports natural gas from US for first time

Turkey imported 83 million cubic meters of liquefied natural gas from the United States in January after the latter became an LNG exporter with its shale gas resources, state-run Anadolu Agency reported based on information from the Turkish Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK).

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey imports natural gas from US for first time, March 25, 2016


Domestic Politics

We owe it to Turkish people to end visa requirement, EU minister says

Turkey’s government owes the lifting of visas to Schengen Zone members to its people, Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkır has said. “The AK Party [Justice and Development Party] government will ensure the lifting of the visa [requirement]. This is our debt to our people, and we really want to make this happen,” he said March 24 in an interview with Anadolu Agency in Helsinki.

Hurriyet Daily News, We owe it to Turkish people to end visa requirement, EU minister says, March 24, 2016


Turkey Abruptly Closes Espionage Trial of 2 Journalists to Public

A long-awaited trial of two Turkish journalists facing potential life sentences on espionage charges began Friday, but was quickly closed to the public and news media, prompting outrage and concerns over whether the proceedings could be free and fair. A subsequent postponement, until April 1, did little to stanch the criticism.

New York Times, Turkey Abruptly Closes Espionage Trial of 2 Journalists to Public, March 25, 2016


Media outlets need to pursue the truth: Doğan chair

Doğan Holding Chairperson Begümhan Doğan Faralyalı has underlined the crucial link between social development and freedom of expression, noting that media outlets must always pursue the truth, in a speech at the Uludağ Economy Summit on March 26.

Hurriyet Daily News, Media outlets need to pursue the truth: Doğan chair, March 27, 2016


Gov’t to speed up process for new constitution with presidential system: PM

The process for writing a new constitution, which will include a shift to a presidential political system from the current parliamentary one, will be accelerated “to meet the expectations of the Turkish people,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has vowed.

Hurriyet Daily News, Gov’t to speed up process for new constitution with presidential system: PM, March 27, 2016


Council of Europe says detention of Turkish academics ‘unacceptable’

The Council of Europe has expressed “great concern” over the arrest of three academics on March 15 on charges of “supporting terror,” calling it an “unacceptable” move that will raise questions of compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Hurriyet Daily News, Council of Europe says detention of Turkish academics ‘unacceptable’, March 18, 2016