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TUSIAD Turkey Letter: 12 August 2013

THIS WEEK:

FOREIGN POLICY

  • President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Erdoğan
  • Erdoğan talks to Putin and Cameron on Syria and Egypt
  • President Gül wants Turkey to focus on EU accession
  • Davutoğlu holds contacts with Rouhani in Iran
  • Gunmen kidnap Turkish Airlines pilots in Lebanon
  • Turkey to pull its peacekeepers out of Lebanon
  • UN says more refugees live outside of camps in Turkey

DOMESTIC POLITICS

  • US Department of State says United States is following media reports on Ergenekon verdict
  • Justice Minister Ergin said Ergenekon trial is not political

ECONOMY & ENERGY

  • Turkey signals cut in growth, export targets
  • Turkey and Japan take important step toward reaching free trade accord

FOREIGN POLICY

President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Erdoğan

The White House Office of the Press Secretary released a statement stating that President Obama spoke by phone with Prime Minister Erdoğan of Turkey on August 7, at the Prime Minister’s request, about developments in Syria and Egypt. The President and Prime Minister discussed the danger of foreign extremists in Syria and agreed on the importance of supporting a unified and inclusive Syrian opposition. Obama and Erdoğan expressed concern about the situation in Egypt and a shared commitment to supporting a democratic and inclusive way forward. The two leaders agreed to have their teams continue to coordinate closely to promote their shared interests. Obama gave his best wishes to the Prime Minister and the Turkish people on the beginning of Ramadan holiday.

The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 8 August 2013, Readout of President Obama’s call with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey

Erdoğan talks to Putin and Cameron on Syria and Egypt

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 5 to exchange views on regional affairs, the crisis in Syria and the political turmoil in Egypt. According to sources, Erdoğan stressed the necessity for international community and the UN Security Council to take concrete steps on Syria, underlining the importance of Egypt’s return to democracy immediately with the participation of all parties. Erdoğan and Putin also discussed bilateral relations between Turkey and Russia.

Erdoğan also had a phone conversation with British Prime Minister David Cameron on August 6 to exchange views on the crisis in Syria and the political turmoil in Egypt. In addition to stressing the necessity of international community in resolving the crisis in Syria and Egypt, Erdoğan also underlined that all political detainees, including Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi should be released.

Turkish Press Review, 6 August 2013, Erdogan talks to Putin on Syria, Egypt

Turkish Press Review, 7 August 2013, Erdogan talks to Cameron on Syria,Egypt

President Gül wants Turkey to focus on EU accession 

As the President of a country that has been intensely engaged in the outcomes of regional conflicts as well as domestic polarization in several areas, Abdullah Gül has given a message of unity, presenting the long-neglected European Union full membership goal as one of the main targets requiring nationwide solidarity. Gül used a message marking the start of Eid al-Fitr as an opportunity to popularize the EU issue on the national agenda. “Very important projects are being implemented in our country, which has risen to the rating of investable in the entire world. The acquisitions Turkey possesses and the values it embraces also show its rising power,” Gül said in a written message on August 7, the eve of Eid.

Hürriyet Daily News, 8 August 2013, President Gül wants Turkey to focus on EU accession  

Davutoğlu holds contacts with Rouhani in Iran

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who went to Tehran on August 4 to attend Iran’s new President Hasan Rouhani’s oath-taking ceremony held bilateral talks with several politicians, including Iran’s new President Hasan Rouhani. Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Davutoğlu said that they agreed to further develop relations between the two countries, adding that he has invited Rouhani to Turkey. Stating that they have discussed the Syria issue in detail during the meeting, Davutoğlu said, “We will come together hopefully in the upcoming period for a more detailed meeting. We have reached an agreement that there is a common ground as part of principles of democracy and security.”

In response to a reporter’s question about which issues were on the agenda at the meeting with the Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nachirvan Barzani in Ankara last week, Davutoğlu said, “They and we both share the opinion that Kurds are an important factor for the construction of peace in Syria and that this is only possible if all the Kurdish groups join the Syrian opposition. Mr. Barzani shares the same point-of-view. We agreed with him that we will be in solidarity with them for our Kurdish brothers to take the place that they deserve first in the Syrian opposition and then in a permanent structure in Syria.”

Turkish Press Review, 6 August 2013, Davutoglu holds contacts with Rouhani in Iran

Gunmen kidnap Turkish Airlines pilots in Lebanon

Gunmen intercepted a van carrying Turkish Airlines employees from Beirut’s international airport to a hotel in the Lebanese capital on August 9, kidnapping two pilots but leaving the four other crew members behind, officials said. The abductions appeared linked to neighboring Syria’s civil war, a conflict that has sparked repeated bouts of fighting in Lebanon between sectarian communities as well as a spate of tit-for-tat kidnappings over the past two years. Friday’s attack prompted Turkey to issue a travel warning urging its citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to Lebanon and those already there to leave.

Washington Post, 9 August 2013, Gunmen kidnap 2 Turkish Airlines pilots in Lebanese capital in attack linked to Syrian war

Turkey to pull its peacekeepers out of Lebanon

Turkey plans on withdrawing most of its peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon, officials said on August 10. A spokesman for the UNIFIL told The Daily Star that Turkey made the decision to pull its peacekeepers from Lebanon in early August, before two Turkish Airlines pilots were kidnapped in Beirut earlier this week.

“[The withdrawal] will be around 280 troops and 58 will stay as part of the maritime task force,” Andrea Tenenti said, adding that the majority of the troops to pull out are from the engineering force. Tenenti described Turkey’s decision as a “regular process.”

UPI, 10 August 2013, Turkey to pull its peacekeepers out of Lebanon

UN says more refugees live outside of camps in Turkey

The largest proportion of Syrian refugees in Turkey today are those living outside of refugee camps, who now outnumber refugees sheltered in the camps, says United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative to Turkey Carol Batchelor, describing this as the most challenging aspect of Turkey’s hosting of Syrian refugees now.

“There are over 200,000 in 20 refugee camps in 10 provinces. But the greatest number of people are now outside of the camps. Over 200,000 are also registered outside of the camps, plus another 30,000 with appointment to be registered and then others who are in the process of making appointments,” Batchelor told the Hürriyet Daily News in a recent interview. The larger challenge at the moment was what they called the persons in the “non-camp settings” or in “urban settings,” Batchelor said.

Hürriyet Daily News, 6 August 2013, More refugees live outside of camps in Turkey: UN

 

DOMESTIC POLITICS

US Department of State says United States is following media reports on Ergenekon verdictTouching on Turkish court decision in Ergenekon trial, Deputy Spokesperson of US Department of State Marie Harf said that the US was following the media reports of the Ergenekon verdict. “Many Turkish citizens have expressed serious concerns regarding the length and lack of transparency of the trial process and the manner in which these verdicts and sentences were reached,” Harf said. Stating that they were following the media reports of the verdict and the severity of the sentences in the case which were being handed down by the special court in Istanbul, Harf said, “I understand that Turkish law allows these verdicts to be appealed. So we won’t comment on any eventual outcome from an appeal, but we’ll continue watching that process.”Turkish Press Review, 6 August 2013, US Department of State: “US follows media reports of Ergenekon verdict”

Justice Minister Ergin said Ergenekon trial is not political

In remarks to private broadcaster Habertürk on August 6, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin rejected criticisms of the Ergenekon verdict handed down by a special Istanbul court on August 5. “Calling Ergenekon a political trial is a comment that is over the line. The trial may have political consequences as a result but its content is very technical,” Ergin said, adding that those who are disturbed by the Ergenekon rulings can go to a higher court. Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also described the Ergenekon case as historic, saying, “Turkey passed an important test in democracy and the rule of law.”

Turkish Press Review, 7 August 2013, Ergin: Ergenekon trial not political

 

 

ECONOMY & ENERGY

Turkey signals cut in growth, export targetsDeputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan says global fluctations put pressure on Turkey, which will not be able to keep up with the current targets for growth and export. Turkey may slash its growth rate target to below 4 percent and its annual export target to below $158 billion, mainly due to the global economic fluctuations, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said on August 6 during a live interview on Turkish Radio-Television (TRT).“Growth targets have now been revised downward. It should not be surprising for Turkey to revise its growth rate below 4 percent, which is still very good under such global economic conditions,” Babacan said, adding that there had appeared to be no need to make an official revision for now. “We set our annual target as $158 billion, but it looks difficult to reach this target as well,” he noted.

The comments by Ali Babacan may trigger disagreements among the Turkish ministers about the growth rate as was recently the case at the end of last month.

Hürriyet Daily News, 7 August 2013, Turkey signals cut in growth, export targets

Turkey and Japan take important step toward reaching free trade accord

A study group established by Turkish and Japanese representatives has presented a report on a potential free trade agreement, marking another important step toward a trade pact.The report prepared by the Joint Study Group, has been finalized and is ready to be sent to the Japanese side, the Turkish Economy Ministry said in a statement released on its website last week.

Japan and Turkey agreed to look into the possibility of negotiating a bilateral free-trade agreement in July 2012 during Çağlayan’s Japan visit, in order to develop trade volume, which totaled $3.9 billion in 2012. The statement said that after the Japanese side completes the internal approval process of the report the countries will be ready to pass to the subsequent phase of beginning FTA negotiations.

Hürriyet Daily News, 12 August 2013, Turkey and Japan take important step toward reaching free trade accord

 

 

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