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TUSIAD Turkey Letter: 3 June 2013

THIS WEEK:
DOMESTIC POLITICS
• Turkey protests: Unrest rages in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities
ECONOMY/ENERGY
• Inflation rose to 6.5% in May
• Foreign trade deficit rises to $10.3 bln in April
• Turkey seeks to boost revenues with draft tax law
• Turkey ready to deliver Turkmen natural gas to Europe
FOREIGN POLICY
• U.S. releases Country Reports on Terrorism
• Turkey clashes with Kurdish rebels
• Erdoğan’s North Africa visit to bolster Turkey’s Africa initiative
• OECD offers skeptical view of Turkey 

DOMESTIC POLITICS

Turkey protests: Unrest rages in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities

Turkey has entered the 4th day of violent protests, while the clashes between police and demonstrators in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and many other cities continue.

The unrest began as a sit-in over plans to redevelop Gezi Park in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, but escalated after police used tear gas. Protests continue throughout the country.

On Sunday, May 2, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made two speeches on TV stating that the anti-government protests do not constitute a Turkish Spring. At the news conference before a trip to Morocco, he said the protests were organized by extremists and accused the opposition of provoking “his citizens.”

The U.S. Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said “we are concerned about the number of people who were injured when police dispersed protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. We believe that Turkey’s long-term stability, security, and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, which is what it seems these individuals were doing. These freedoms are crucial to any healthy democracy.”

TUSIAD issued a statement calling all sides to “refrain from violence,” and using language that would reduce tensions. TUSIAD statement said, “The incredibly disproportionate use of force and intolerant intervention has wounded the public conscience.”

Turkey’s stock dropped sharply on Monday following the protests. The Borsa Istanbul 100 Index was down 10 percent as investors worried about the destabilizing effect of the demonstrations on the economy.
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BBC News, 1 June 2013, Turkey protests: Unrest rages in Istanbul and Ankara
BBC News, 3 May 2013, Turkey clashes: Erdoğan says protests are not Turkish Spring
The Washington Post, 3 May 2013, Turkish stock market index drops over nationwide anti-government protests
TUSIAD, 1 June 2013, Basın Açıklaması
Department of State, 31 May 2013, Daily Press Briefing
The Washington Post, 1 June 2013, 90-second video of Turkey’s protests

ECONOMY/ENERGY

Inflation rose to 6.5% in May

Consumer prices increased by a milder-than-expected 0.15% mom in May, thanks to a 2.2% drop in food prices. Nevertheless, annual inflation accelerated slightly to 6.5% in May, after having dipped to 6.1% due to the base effect in April.
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Anadolu Agency, 3 June 2013, Enflasyon Mayıs’ta yüzde 0,15 oldu

Foreign trade deficit rises to $10.3 bln in April

Turkey’s foreign trade deficit jumped to $10.3 billion in April from $6.6 billion from the same month a year earlier, representing a 55.1 percent increase, according to figures revealed by state-run statistics body TUIK on May 31.
~~~
Hurriyet Daily News, 31 May 2013, Foreign trade deficit rises to $10.3 bln in April

Turkey seeks to boost revenues with draft tax law

Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek revealed details of a draft tax law on May 29 aimed at boosting revenues by widening the country’s tax base, but stopped short of changing income and corporation tax brackets.
~~~
Reuters, 29 May 2013, Turkey seeks to boost revenues with draft tax law

Turkey ready to deliver Turkmen natural gas to Europe

Turkish President Abdullah Gül met with Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow in Ashgabat on May 30. Turkey and Turkmenistan signed 12 bilateral agreements on energy, agriculture, diplomacy, and youth and sports.

Turkey is ready to deliver Turkmenistan’s natural gas to consumers in Europe, Gül said, supporting the Central Asian nation’s plans to build alternative pipelines and ease dependence on exports to Russia.
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Reuters, 30 May 2013, Turkey ready to deliver Turkmen natural gas to Europe
Today’s Zaman, 30 May 2013, Turkey signs 12 agreements with Turkmenistan during Gül’s visit

FOREIGN POLICY

U.S. releases Country Reports on Terrorism

The U.S. Department of State submitted the “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012” to the Congress on May 30. According to the report, Turkey experienced a spike in terrorist attacks, rising from 40 in 2010 to 91 in 2011. Together, Russia and Turkey suffered almost 70 percent of all 2011 terrorism related deaths in Europe and Eurasia.
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Department of State, 30 May 2013, Country Reports on Terrorism 2012

Turkey clashes with Kurdish rebels

Turkey’s armed forces drew fire Monday from a “terrorist group” across the Iraqi border, the military said, in what may be the first time Kurdish rebels have breached a three-month cease fire. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK and designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union and the U.S., started withdrawing from Turkey on May 8.
~~~
Wall Street Journal, 3 June 2013, Turkey clashes with Kurdish rebels

Erdoğan’s North Africa visit to bolster Turkey’s Africa initiative

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s four-day official trip to North African countries Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia began on June 3. Erdoğan is scheduled to have meetings with the heads of state and government in these nations and is expected to discuss political, economic and cultural issues as well as regional and international developments.
~~~
Today’s Zaman, 3 June 2013, Erdoğan’s North Africa visit to bolster Turkey’s Africa initiative

OECD offers skeptical view of Turkey

In a new survey of 36 countries, the OECD has ranked the quality of life in Turkey at the bottom for the second year in a row. The list ranks member countries on 11 factors including income, safety, life satisfaction and health. Only 68% of people said they have more positive experiences in an average day than negative ones, much lower than the average of 80%.
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The Wall Street Journal, 30 May 2013, OECD offers skeptical view of Turkey

 

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