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TUSIAD Turkey Letter: 3 January 2013

THIS WEEK:
FOREIGN POLICY
• Turkey hits back at EU criticism over membership bid
• Patriot missile parts arrive in Turkey
• Israel to join NATO activities amidst Turkey tension
ECONOMY / ENERGY
• Turkey trade deficit exceeds estimates as imports grow
• Turkey inks $12 billion energy project with UAE
DOMESTIC POLITICS
• Turkey and PKK’s Öcalan in talks ‘on disarmament’

FOREIGN POLICY

Turkey hits back at EU criticism over membership bid

Turkey accused the European Union of bias and bigoted attitudes towards the EU candidate country on December 31 and blamed it for undermining the Turkish public’s trust in the bloc. The Turkish criticism came in a 270-page report on its membership bid, the first “EU progress report” by Ankara. The report was not prepared as a reaction to EU’s progress report, but to share Turkey’s determination, EU Minister Egemen Bağış said. He added that the EU had failed to give due weight to Turkey’s reforms. “Today there is no government in Europe which is more reformist than our government,” he said.

Earlier in the month, Bağış had stated that Turkey is hopeful France will unblock talks over EU membership on at least two policy chapters in the coming months ahead of a visit by President Francois Hollande.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the current stand-still in negotiations over Turkey’s bid to join the European Union was unsatisfactory and the new year offered an opportunity to tackle outstanding issues with renewed vigor. “The membership talks with Turkey have been treading water for too long, the stand-still is unsatisfactory for both sides,” Westerwelle told Reuters.
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Reuters, 18 December 2012, Turkey sees France unblocking two EU chapters
Reuters, 21 December 2012, Germany calls for renewed vigour in Turkey EU membership talks
Reuters, 31 December 2012, Turkey accuses EU of bigotry, says its reforms are ignored
Hurriyet Daily News, 31 December 2012, Turkey prepares its own EU progress report for first time
BBC News, 1 January 2013, Turkey hits back at EU criticism over membership bid

Patriot missile parts arrive in Turkey

Parts for the Patriot missiles started arriving in Turkey in mid-December.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the location of the missiles on December 21: Germany will deploy at Kahramanmaraş; the Netherlands at Adana; and the United States at Gaziantep.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay announced that the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey has exceeded 145,000.
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Hurriyet Daily News, 18 December 2012, German soldiers arrive in Turkey to set up Patriots
US News, 18 December 2012, Patriot missile parts arrive in Turkey
Reuters, 21 December 2012, Turkey names sites for NATO Patriot missiles near Syria
Hurriyet Daily News, 23 December 2012, Deputy PM: Syrian refugees in Turkey exceed 145,000

Israel to join NATO activities amidst Turkey tension

Turkey has given approval for Israel to participate in non-military NATO activities in 2013, withdrawing an earlier objection driven by an ongoing dispute, a Turkish official said on December 24. The approval came as Turkey’s request that NATO station Patriot missile batteries along its border with Syria was granted.
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The Jerusalem Post, 23 December 2012, Israel to join NATO activities amidst Turkey tension
Reuters, 24 December 2012, Turkey lifts objection to NATO cooperation with Israel

ECONOMY / ENERGY

Turkey’s inflation rate drops, but challenges await Central Bank

Turkey’s annual inflation rate nearly halved in 2012 due to weak domestic demand, a stronger lira and benign domestic food inflation, but still rose to 6.2% annually. In addition, Turkey’s trade deficit narrowed less than expected in November as imports increased for the first time since May. The gap was $7.16 billion. Imports rose 13% to $21 billion, the biggest since October 2011, and exports rose 25% to $13.8 billion. Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said on January 3 that the exports rose by 12.6% in 2012 to hit $151.9 billion.

In an annual assessment of the country’s economic policy released in December, the IMF staff stated that Turkey’s Central Bank should be more focused on meeting its inflation target because its multiple monetary policy tools are “blurring signals.” While the monetary policy framework put into place by Central Bank Governor Erdem Başçı aims to achieve both price and financial stability, inflation has remained “well above target,” IMF economists said, recommending a return to “a more conventional framework.”
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Bloomberg News, 21 December 2012, IMF says Turkey’s Central Bank should focus on inflation control
Bloomberg, 28 December 2012, Turkey trade deficit exceeds estimates as imports grow
Shanghai Daily, 2 January 2013, Turkey’s exports hit record-high in 2012
Wall Street Journal, 3 January 2013, Turkey’s inflation rate drops, but challenges await Central Bank

Turkey inks $12 billion energy project with UAE

Turkey signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates on January 3 for the development of coal fields in southern Turkey to generate electricity. The agreement between Abu Dhabi-based TAQA and Turkey’s state-run power company EUAS marks the biggest Arab investment in the Turkish energy sector, a senior energy ministry official stated.
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Hurriyet Daily News, 3 January 2013, Turkey inks $12 billion energy project with UAE: official says

DOMESTIC POLITICS

Turkey and PKK’s Öcalan in talks ‘on disarmament’

Turkey is holding talks with the jailed head of the PKK Kurdish militant group, Abdullah Öcalan, to push for its disarmament, officials say. Öcalan, who has been found guilty of treason, is being held in solitary confinement on a remote island prison. The Turkish prime minister’s top political adviser said the government would not be able to bring the conflict to an end by military means alone. Last year saw a surge in violence in the three-decades-old insurgency.
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BBC News, 1 January 2013, Turkey and PKK’s Öcalan in talks ‘on disarmament’

 

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”.