2101 L Street, NW Suite 800 Washington, DC

+1 (202) 776-7770 [email protected]

TUSIAD Turkey Letter: 29 July 2013

THIS WEEK:
FOREIGN POLICY
• Turkey condemns attack against Morsi supporters, calls it “massacre”
• Turkey says it won’t tolerate ‘de facto’ Kurdish entity in Syria
• President Gül condemns bombing attack against Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu, Somali
• Turkey won’t accept Israel’s ex gratia payment as compensation in Mavi Marmara case
• Davutoğlu initiates telephone diplomacy with Ban, Kerry and Mohamud
DOMESTIC POLICY
• Kılıçdaroğlu criticized Erdoğan and his government over media freedom
• Turkey criticized internationally for failing to protect media freedom after prominent journalist is fired
• Turkish PM Erdoğan threatens to sue London Times over open letter
ECONOMY & ENERGY
• Turkey probes tax affairs of Koç energy firms
• Turkey raises interest rates for the first time since 2011 

 

FOREIGN POLICY

Turkey condemns attack against Morsi supporters, calls it “massacre”

Ankara has strongly condemned the recent deadly attack by Egyptian security forces against the supporters of President Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted by a military coup in early July, calling the incident a “massacre.” At least 200 anti-coup protesters were killed and over 1,000 were wounded after security forces fired on a crowd late on July 26 in Cairo’s Rab’a al-Adaweya Square. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on July 27 that Turkey wouldn’t remain silent against the attack despite the silence of the international community over the bloody actions of the military. The Turkish Foreign Ministry also condemned the attack and expressed its condolences in a statement issued on July 27. The statement added that Turkey is following the latest developments with concern. Main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also reiterated his call for democracy and elections, expressing deep concerns over the incidents in Egypt.
~~~
Turkish Press Review, July 29, 2013, Turkey condemns attack against Morsi supporters, calls it “massacre”

Turkey says it won’t tolerate ‘de facto’ Kurdish entity in Syria

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç says his country supports Syria’s territorial integrity and won’t tolerate the creation of a “de facto” Syrian Kurdish entity on its frontiers. Speaking to reporters July 22, Arınç would not spell out what Turkey would do prevent any such entity from coming about but said it would act carefully and in a cool-headed manner.

Authorities here have been concerned over Syrian Kurdish militants’ recent strengthening of power in areas bordering Turkey. The concerns have been heightened by reports that Kurds in Syria are preparing to form an autonomous region in those areas. Last week, a Syrian Kurdish group — affiliated with Turkey’s own autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels — took control of a town on the border with Turkey after fighting radical Islamic groups.
~~~
Washington Post, July 22, 2013, Turkey says it won’t tolerate ‘de facto’ Kurdish entity in Syria

President Gül condemns bombing attack against Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu, Somali

President Abdullah Gül has strongly condemned a bombing attack on the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu, Somali on July 27, maintaining that Turkey will continue to provide help to the country. Gül vehemently condemned the attack, expressing his sorrow at the death of a Turkish police officer and the wounding of three others. “Turkey will continue its support to the Somali nation in a very strong way,” said Gül.
~~~
Turkish Press Review, July 29, 2013, President Gul condemns bombing attack against Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu

Turkey won’t accept Israel’s ex gratia payment as compensation in Mavi Marmara case

The reason for the deadlock in compensation talks between Turkey and Israel is the latter’s insistency in redressing the damages of the Mavi Marmara victims as an ex gratia payment and not as a result of its wrongful act, a senior Turkish government official has said. “In our first meeting [the Israelis] showed no opposition to this. But in the second meeting, they intended to give an ex gratia payment as a form of reparation because they fear compensation [as a result of their wrongful act] will set an example for other cases, which is not a concern to us,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told Ankara bureau chiefs late on July 23. Arınç is leading a Turkish team composed of diplomats and legal experts negotiating the compensation issue with the Israeli government.

Israel had formally apologized to Turkey on March 22 over the killing of nine Turkish citizens on board the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara vessel in 2010. It also agreed to redress the damages and loss of life and promised to lift an embargo imposed on the Gaza Strip. However, compensation talks were suspended after the parties held three meetings in April and in May with unconfirmed reports that the primary reason was the disagreement over the amount of money.
~~~
Hürriyet Daily News, July 25, 2013, Turkey won’t accept Israel’s ex gratia payment as compensation in Mavi Marmara case

Davutoğlu initiates telephone diplomacy with Ban, Kerry and Mohamud

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu initiated a round of telephone diplomacy on July 28 separately with UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. During his conversations with Ban and Kerry, Davutoğlu discussed the developments in Syria and Egypt issue and evaluated the steps to be taken in the upcoming period. Reportedly, Ban and Kerry expressed sorrow and condolences over the attack against the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu. Mohamud also called Davutoğlu, expressing his condolences and condemning the attack.
~~~
Turkish Press Review, July 29, 2013, Davutoğlu initiates telephone diplomacy with Ban, Kerry and Mohamud

DOMESTIC POLITICS

Kılıçdaroğlu criticized Erdoğan and his government over media freedom

Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu accused Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan on July 23 of cowing local media into self-censorship after a journalist group said dozens of reporters were fired for their coverage of anti-government protests.
The Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) said at least 72 journalists had either been fired, forced to take leave or had resigned in the past six weeks since the start of the unrest, which spread to cities around the country.

“Why are you letting the journalists go? Why are you forcing them to take leave? Because they write stories their bosses don’t like,” said Kılıçdaroğlu, head of the CHP party. “We are now facing a new period where the media is controlled by the government and the police and where most media bosses take orders from political authorities. A period where stories approved by political authorities are published and those that aren’t are censored,” he said.
~~~
Reuters, July 23, 2013, Turkey’s main opposition leader lambastes PM over media freedom

Turkey criticized internationally for failing to protect media freedom after prominent journalist is fired

Turkey drew renewed international criticism on July 26 over its stance on media freedom after a prominent journalist who had criticized the government was fired this week. The pro-government Sabah newspaper dismissed Yavuz Baydar from his position as ombudsman — or arbiter between the paper and its readers — on July 23 after he wrote an opinion piece published in The New York Times that accused Turkish media owners of a “shameful” role in curtailing press freedom.

It’s not the first time that Turkey has been slammed for its curbs on media freedoms. But the criticism has intensified over the treatment of journalists following the protests. The Paris-based Reporters without Borders has labeled Turkey the world’s “biggest prison for journalists”. Similarly, the European Union denounced Baydar’s dismissal to another newspaper — Today’s Zaman — that employs the journalist, while the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said late July 25 that it was alarmed by the firing of the leading columnist and other journalists for their coverage of the protests.
~~~
Washington Post, July 27, 2013, Turkey criticized for failing to protect media freedom after prominent journalist is fired

Turkish PM Erdoğan threatens to sue London Times over open letter

In a related development, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested on July 26 that he would launch a lawsuit against The Times of London for publishing an open letter by a group of actors and filmmakers critical of him. The letter, whose signatories include Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, slammed the police’s use of “untold brutal force” on protesters and accused Erdoğan of showing “total disregard” for five people who were killed in the protests.

Erdoğan accused the Times of “renting out its pages for money”. “The Times is renting out its own pages for money. This is the Times’ failing. We will pursue legal channels regarding the Times.” he said. He also referred to those who signed the letter as people who had “rented out their thoughts” and did not genuinely support democracy. “If they truly believed in democracy, they couldn’t have displayed such a lack of character to call the leader of a party that won 50% of the vote a dictator,” the Prime Minister said. The Times has so far not commented on the remarks.
~~~
Washington Post, July 27, 2013, Turkey criticized for failing to protect media freedom after prominent journalist is fired
BBC, July 26, 2013, Turkish PM Erdogan threatens to sue Times over open letter

ECONOMY & ENERGY

Turkey probes tax affairs of Koç energy firms

Turkey’s government has launched a probe into the tax affairs of energy firms affiliated with one of the country’s most prominent business dynasties, weeks after criticizing one of the family’s hotels for sheltering protesters during anti-government unrest. Police and finance ministry tax inspectors late on July 24 raided the offices of TUPRAS, Turkey’s sole refiner, and energy company Aygaz, both of them controlled by conglomerate Koç Holding. Shares in all three companies fell more than 3 percent, extending losses from late on July 24.

“Ministry of Finance tax inspectors carry out around 50,000 inspections a year. There is absolutely no linkage between (last month’s) protests and current tax probes,” Finance Minister Mehmet Simşek said on his Twitter account. Koç declined to comment on the investigation.
~~~
Reuters, July 25, 2013, UPDATE 2-Turkey probes tax affairs of Koc energy firms

Turkey raises interest rates for the first time since 2011

Turkey’s Central Bank raised interest rates for the first time in almost two years after the lira slumped to a record low this month. The bank increased its overnight lending rate by 75 basis points to 7.25 percent on July 23, and said that “additional monetary tightening will be implemented when necessary.” It kept its benchmark one-week repo rate and overnight borrowing rate unchanged at 4.5 percent and 3.5 percent respectively, according to an announcement on its website.
~~~
Bloomberg, July 23, 2013, Turkey Raises Rates for First Time Since 2011 on Lira Slide

 

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