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TUSIAD Turkey Letter: 5 August 2013

THIS WEEK:

DOMESTIC POLICY
•Turkish Court hands down sentences in coup plot
•Turkey appoints n/ew military commanders
•TÜSİAD warns against use of probes as ‘punishment’
•Efforts for Turkey’s new charter gain speed
•Turkey warns protests ringleaders they face life in jail
•Turkish government to ban political slogans in football games
•Minorities in Turkey tagged by ‘race codes,’ official document reveals
•Istanbul’s Halki Seminary reopening on the table as a part of the democratization package

FOREIGN POLICY
•Turkey sends note to Armenia condemning shooting of shepherd
•Davutoğlu holds talks with Barzani
•Turkey launches investigation on Al-Shabaab
•Prime Minister Erdoğan’s Gaza visit postponed due to turmoil in Egypt
•Turkey, KRG pipeline to finish end of 2013

ECONOMY & ENERGY

•Turkey’s central bank signals more rigorous policy
•Turkey ‘ready’ for free trade deal with Mexico, minister says
•Turkey’s Chambers and Bourses Chairman Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu re-elected
•Turkey’s Garanti Bank posts higher-than-expected net profit

 

DOMESTIC POLITICS 
Turkish Court hands down sentences in coup plot
A court on August 5 sentenced at least 10 defendants out of 275, including a former army chief of staff, to life in prison for their role in plotting a military coup to overthrow Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and acquitted 17.
After five years in one of Turkey’s most politically charged cases to date, the court, in a prison complex in Silivri, a western Istanbul province, sentenced some of the suspects, including Mustafa Balbay, an elected member of Parliament from the opposition Republican People’s Party, to prison terms ranging from 6 months to 129 years. The court issued arrest warrants for 11 suspects who had been tried without being arrested.
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New York Times, 5 August 2013, Turkish Court Hands Down Sentences in Coup Plot
Turkey appoints new military commanders
The annual Supreme Military Council meeting to decide on promotions and retirements of top officers was held on August 3 with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership. With the announced appointments, Turkey has overhauled the top ranks of its military, appointing new army commanders in a move that underlines the government’s control over armed forces.
The most unexpected of the council’s decisions was the forced retirement of paramilitary gendarmerie force commander General Bekir Kalyoncu, who had been the leading candidate to take over land forces. Instead, General Hulusi Akar was given the job and, according to custom, would be expected to replace General Necdet Özel as overall head of the armed forces in 2015.
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Al Jazeera, 3 August 2013, Turkey appoints new military commanders
TÜSİAD warns against use of probes as ‘punishment’
TÜSİAD has warned against a public perception of tax probes on companies as a punishment, referring to the latest investigations initiated toward several energy firms owned by the Koç group, shortly after the group was publicly criticized by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “The apprehension of executed audits as a punishment by the public has a potential to create results as severe as in the case where the apprehension were true,” the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) said in a statement on August 1.
In the statement, TÜSİAD also pointed out the importance of maintaining an independent tax auditing structure which was in compliance with the universal market economy measures. “The creation of an environment in which the independent regulator and inspector institutions, which are the most fundamental element of free market economies would damage the trust environment by wounding public conscience and justice feelings as well as violating the state of law principle,” the statement said.
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Hürriyet Daily News, 2 August 2013, TÜSİAD warns against use of probes as ‘punishment’
Efforts for Turkey’s new charter gain speed 
Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission has hit the ground running after a brief break, quickly reaching complete agreement on nine more articles in a single sitting, bringing to 57 the number of items that now have unanimous approval.
During a meeting on July 29, the charter-drafting panel reached a consensus on articles concerning the sections of fundamental rights and freedoms and judiciary, where a notable agreement came on the article stating that “Everybody has the right to life in peace and in protection from violence.” The parties also agreed on “freedom of communication,” “expropriation,” “the right to the environment,” “the right to live in peace in an unarmed society,” “the protection of private life and family life” and “the right to become a union member.”
With consensus on the 57 articles, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is now considering three alternate strategies to proceed with constitutional reform on its own terms.
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Hürriyet Daily News, 31 July 2013, Efforts for Turkey’s new charter gain speed 
Turkey warns protests ringleaders they face life in jail
Turkey has intensified its crackdown on the protests that shook the country in June, with a ruling party official saying ringleaders could face life sentences and a minister outlining plans to outlaw political chants at sports events. The government insists the protests are not related to other moves – such as a tax inquiry into Turkey’s biggest company, which Ankara previously suggested sided with the protesters. In comments this week, Mehmet Ali Şahin, Deputy Chairman of the ruling AK party, said the protests should be evaluated under a section of the Turkish penal code “which requires the life sentence”.
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Turkish government to ban political slogans in football games

Supporters will be banned from chanting political slogans during next year’s football games, Turkey’s Interior Minister has said as the government attempts to grapple with politicized fans in the wake of this summer’s Gezi Park protests.“We are adding bad political and ideological slogans to the list of illegal demonstrations in football stands, or behavior not complying with sporting ethics,” Muammer Güler said ahead of a workshop on “Security in Sports Events.” “They are already banned by international rules as well.”
Güler’s statement came in the midst of a summer where Turkey’s football fans have discovered their impact on the political stage. Fans of bitter rivals, including Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, together joined the Gezi Park protests, which turned into nationwide anti-government rallies after a heavy-handed police crackdown on a sit-in against a city renovation plan in Istanbul.
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Minorities in Turkey tagged by ‘race codes,’ official document reveals
An official document penned by the Istanbul Provincial Education Directorate has surfaced, revealing that Turkey’s population administration system has been recording citizens who have Armenian, Jewish or Anatolian Greek (Rum) origins with secret “race codes.”
The Armenian-Turkish weekly newspaper Agos published as its headline story on Aug. 1 a report on an official document that openly states “citizens with Armenian origin are coded with ‘2.’” The implementation is reported to have been in place since 1923, the foundation year of the Turkish Republic.
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Istanbul’s Halki Seminary reopening on the table as a part of the democratization package
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has signaled that the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary on Istanbul’s Heybeliada Island might be reopened as part of a democratization package. Ergin said the minority issue and the Halki Seminary were on the table as part of the discussions over the democratization package, during an interview with the private Habertürk channel. “It is among the discussed debates. We will see its result together. But it is on the table now. This is a political decision. If such a decision is taken then of course the Halki Seminary could be opened,” said Ergin.
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Turkey’s chief Ombudsman to accept complaints in Kurdish
Turkey’s chief ombudsman has announced that applications filed in Kurdish, as well as Arabic and English, will be accepted by the institution, even as officials added that individuals must still follow certain procedures to use a different language in their applications.
Sources from ombudsman’s office told the Hürriyet Daily News that applications in Kurdish were being accepted in accordance with the institution’s regulation, which calls for “the acceptance of applications in another language in which individuals can better express themselves if the institution deems it rightful and reasonable.”
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FOREIGN POLICY

Turkey sends note to Armenia condemning shooting of shepherd
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has sent a diplomatic note to Yerevan condemning Armenia for using “disproportionate force” after a shepherd was shot dead by soldiers patrolling the sealed border. The note, sent through Turkey’s embassy in Tbilisi as Ankara has no diplomatic ties with Armenia, explained how and why the Turkish national had illegally crossed into Armenia, and demanded an explanation for why “disproportionate force” was used to kill him.
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Davutoğlu holds talks with Barzani
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held a meeting on July 30 with Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, who is in Ankara for two days of talks with Turkish officials. According to diplomatic sources, Davutoğlu’s closed meeting with Barzani focused on bilateral relations, recent incidents in Iraq, the situation of Syria, the Kurdish National Conference and the recent developments and incidents in Egypt. Barzani’s visit came soon after Ankara last weekend hosted Saleh Muslim, the leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria. Speaking to reporters, Davutoğlu said that in case the incidents in Syria escalate, instability to occur would bring damage to everybody.
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Turkish Press Review, 31 July 2013, Davutoğlu holds talks with Barzani
Turkey launches investigation on Al-Shabaab
In Ankara, Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched a direct investigation into a suicide car bomb attack on the Turkish Embassy annex in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in which a Turkish guard and a Somali bystander were killed. Prosecutor’s Office that considers the attack within the scope of “crimes against Turkish state” in line with Article 13 of the Turkish Penal Code referring to offences to which Turkish law should apply when committed in a foreign country has deepened its investigation regarding Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab group.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has reiterated that Turkey’s policy concerning Somalia would not change despite the recent attack on the Turkish mission. “Turkey’s Somalia policy is a humanitarian policy. Two years ago together with our Prime Minister, we put Somalia on the world’s agenda in a period when the whole world kept silent and turned a blind eye,” Davutoğlu said.
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Turkish Press Review, 31 July 2013, Turkey launches investigation on Al-Shabaab
Prime Minister Erdoğan’s Gaza visit postponed due to turmoil in Egypt
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s long-awaited visit to Gaza Strip has been postponed due to the unfolding political turmoil in Egypt, Erdogan’s chief advisor said on August 1. Ibrahim Kalın, chief advisor to Erdoğan, said via his Twitter account that the visit has been delayed due to the prolonged crisis in Egypt. The Turkish Prime Minister was expected to visit Gaza in mid-June, but the trip was postponed due to the Gezi protests. When Erdoğan planned to go to the coastal city in early July, the coup in Egypt changed his plans and led to another delay.
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Turkey, KRG pipeline to finish end of 2013
The pipeline that will carry oil from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to Turkey will be completed by the end of this year, Anglo-Turkish oil and gas independent Genel Energy has said. “Significant progress has been made on the independent KRG pipeline infrastructure to Turkey, which is expected to be completed in the last quarter of this year,” the company said in a written statement on July 31.
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Hürriyet Daily News, 2 August 2013, Turkey, KRG pipeline to finish ‘end of 2013’
ECONOMY & ENERGY 
Turkey’s central bank signals more rigorous policy
Turkey’s Central Bank raised on July 29 its inflation forecasts to 6.2 percent for this year from a previous 5.3 percent, saying lira volatility posed a threat to prices, and signaled further interest rate rises. At a news conference announcing its quarterly inflation report, Governor Erdem Başçı said core inflation was expected to rise due to exchange rate volatility. But while maintaining a stable lira was a priority, he said there was no set limit at which it would defend the local currency. “The central bank will not defend a specific lira level,” he noted.
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Hürriyet Daily News, 30 July 2013, Turkey’s central bank signals more rigorous policy

Turkey ‘ready’ for free trade deal with Mexico, minister says
Turkey is ready to sign a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with Mexico, Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan has said. “We hope to make necessary arrangements regarding the negotiations during Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s upcoming visit,” he said during his meeting with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Jose Antonio Meade. The Mexican president’s Turkey visit planned for September, which would be the first one at presidential level from Mexico to Turkey, will be an opportunity to take new steps in customs cooperation and double taxation as well, according to Çağlayan.
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Turkey’s Chambers and Bourses Chairman Rıfat Hisarcıklıoğlu re-elected
Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu has been re-elected as the chairman of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) for his third term at the chair. Around 700,000 delegates, representing 365 chambers from 81 provinces, gathered today to vote for the chairman and the board members at TOBB’s 69th general assembly.
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Turkey’s Garanti Bank posts higher-than-expected net profit
Turkish lender Garanti Bank said on July 30 its net profit in the second quarter rose 23 percent to 886.6 million lira ($461 million). The Istanbul-based bank part-owned by Spain’s BBVA had been expected to earn 879 million lira, according to a Reuters poll of seven analysts. In the same period last year, its net income was 719 million lira.
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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