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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 237,972 182,848 147,700 21
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,790 2,500 2,530 92
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Ahmet Necdet Sezer 

Update No: 098 - (01/07/05)

Turks sense polls have harmed EU entry hopes
Turkey's chances of joining the European Union have suffered a series of setbacks, following the 'no' votes in France and the Netherlands and, even more important, the result of the regional election in Germany on May 22nd.
Turkish newspapers wrote of "bad news for Turkey's EU entry" and a "political tsunami in Germany" after the defeat of the ruling social Democrats in the poll in North Rhine-Westphalia. Chancellor Shroeder showed rare political acumen in immediately calling for fresh elections, even though everyone assumes that he will lose them. He has at least preserved his party's reputation for integrity.
The opposition Christian Democrat CDU would campaign against Turkish membership of the EU in the run-up to the federal election in the autumn, Matthias Wissmann, a senior CDU parliamentarian and chairman of the parliament's Europe committee, told FT Deutschland. "We'll tell the people that the chance that Turkey becomes a full member of the EU is much, much lower under a CDU-led government."
He added: "Of course Germany cannot on its own decide about (Turkish) membership but Germany's weight within the EU means that a change in the German position should lead to a change in the EU's position." Turkey's foreign ministry said its relationship with Germany was "big and comprehensive" and would not be affected by the recent result. But analysts said a CDU government in Berlin later this year would change the dynamics of Turkey's accession process.
The leader of Germany's Christian Democrat Union, Angela Merkel, vows to oppose Turkey's bid. She has promised to maintain her opposition to allowing Turkey to join the EU if she wins office in the general election scheduled for September. The fact that Turkey had still not established diplomatic relations with Armenia or the Greek Cypriot administered south of Cyprus, which is a member of the EU, was a catastrophic situation, the CDU leader said, although this seems like 'clutching at straws' in its irrelevance to German politics, and in the case of Cyprus at least, is deeply unfair.

'Privileged partnership' in the offing
In the lead-up to the German election, Merkel's CDU has a double-digit lead over Chancellor Schroeder's government. Speaking in the German parliament, CDU leader Angel Merkel said she will stand by her position that it would be better for the EU to offer Turkey a privileged partnership arrangement rather than full membership. "We will not renounce our position and will continue to repeat that negotiations for a privileged partnership are the best option for integrating Turkey in Europe," Merkel said.
Indeed, giving an academic endorsement on the spot, Hasan Unal, professor of international relations at Bilkent University, near Ankara, repeated her view and said that a "privileged partnership" between Turkey and the EU would be more likely than full membership.
The CDU has already proposed such a relationship - Mr Unal is one of several Turkish academics to have discussed the idea in Ankara with an adviser to Jacques Chirac, French president. "A German election is likely to put in power a government with a mandate from the people that Turkey should not join the EU, and no government could step back from that mandate," Mr Unal said.
Tolga Ediz, a Turkey analyst at Lehman Brothers in London said: "This is a rude awakening for those who thought Turkey's accession process would be straightforward." The opening of the accession talks was unlikely to be delayed, he said; but any German election campaign would, in part, be a debate about Turkey's membership. If Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, a key supporter of Turkey's accession, lost power, "Turkey's EU story will definitely take a major blow."
EU officials are also apprehensive about the effect of the German election - and the French referendum on the European Constitution - on Turkey's accession process, which has looked increasingly fraught in recent months.
There is a swelling nationalist backlash inside Turkey against what many see as the anti-Turkish tone of the debate on the constitution. "This is the time when we need to really and substantially start discussing a privileged partnership so we can stabilise our relationship with Europe as quickly as possible," said Mr Unal.

Europe in … Turkish hands
Turkish accession to the European Union is in fact triggering a hard debate in Europe. The "Kemalist political system," prevailing over Turkey since the last 82 years, makes European public opinion approach the Turkish candidacy in a spirit of profound scepticism.
The clear impression, given by the Europeans, is that they are not ready enough to accept Turkey as equal partner due to the following reasons:-
Firstly, the prospect of mass emigration is a serious problem negatively affecting European societies. Public opinion considers that there is a relation between this problem and the unemployment, despite the fact that, according to some statistical research, the EU should be ready to accept at least a wave of four million Turkish workers.
This is why the Europeans are oriented towards imposing derogation on the free movement of Turkish workers. There is already the embryo of such a reference within the conclusion of the European Summit on the 17th of last December.
Secondly, Turkish political life is sealed by the dominance and ultimate sanction of the military forces within the state. The common position of the European Union is that Turkey should take a divorce from the Turkish military staff. The EU is calling on Turkey to comply with the European political and legal practice, where the military is universally the servant of the democratically elected government..
Thirdly, the Turkish delay on reformation concerning the assignment of the self -evident rights of the religious and national minorities living in Turkish territory obliged the EU to call the government of Ankara to take the necessary measures towards this direction as soon as possible.

Turkey names chief negotiator for EU talks
For all that, Turkish Economy minister, Ali Babacan, will be Turkey's chief negotiator for membership talks with the European Union that are expected to begin on October 3rd, it was announced May 24th. It is unlikely that a new German government would veto them, aware of the leverage Brussels can exercise over the Turks by having the talks take place. 
This was shown by Ankara's reaction. "We will be progressing together with Ali (Babacan) in this process," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told party colleagues. "May Allah give us help"?
Babacan is a well-respected member of Erdogan's government having implemented a number of economic reforms that have strengthened the Turkish economy. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth last year was an impressive 6.3% and runaway inflation has been brought down to single figures.
The government has been criticised in recent months over not naming a chief negotiator, with commentators saying it was a symbol of the administration's failure to continue implementing EU-inspired reforms. The decision of May 24th to appoint Babacan will help to allay that criticism. 
Babacan was born in 1967 in Ankara and became one of Turkey's youngest-ever ministers after Erdogan's Justice and Development party was swept into power in December 2002. He speaks excellent English, having studied and worked in the United States.
"Entry talks between Turkey and the European Union (EU) may last for 10 years. There will be ups and downs during this period but we will be ready in 10 years," Babacan said at the fifth EU-Turkey Conference in Madrid.
Stressing the importance of the recent significant developments in Turkish economy, Babacan noted that currently the growth rate was higher than 9%, indicating that inflation rate was 9.3% now. Babacan stated that Turkey expected to host 20m tourists this year, noting, "European people want to know more about Turkey. Turkey should be promoted in a better way. Tourism and trade will help us achieve this."
There was need for a good communication strategy to introduce Turkey's facts to European community, Babacan underlined. He believes that a stable Turkey is vital for stability of EU. Babacan stressed, "If Turkey, which is a Muslim, secular and democratic country, has an open and stable economy, there will be a great transformation in the region. Turkey's accession is relevant to the future of Europe. What kind of Europe do you want? Will it be a small, closed and private club, or a place where cultures and ethnil groups will meet? This is the question." Babacan told Anatolia News Agency that Turkey's accession would be a very important step not only for Turkey and EU but also for whole region.
He said, "As a democratic country, Turkey's presence in the region is very important. Other countries in the region will monitor developments in Turkey. It was claimed that a Muslim country cannot be a democratic one. Turkey proves that a Muslim country can be a democratic one. EU should be a place where civilisations will live together."
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Namik Tan, on May 21st announced that other than the goal of membership in EU, Turkey cannot accept any alternative, option or any other formula than full membership. Responding to various comments and articles in the media regarding the issue, Tan reminded the "privileged partnership" suggestions made by NGOs close to prominent EU politicians. He added that the main axis of Turkey-EU relations is based on the realisation of full membership in the EU and has been since the Ankara Agreement signed in 1963.
The head of the European Union Economic and Financial Issues Institute Inci, Atac Rosch, at an education seminar of the Southeastern Anatolia Municipalities Union (GABB) said that the Union will help to upgrade Turkey's infrastructure to European standards. It is wrong to approach EU aid as hot money, said Rosch, adding, "If this aid is expected as money that will be given to us, solve our problems and delivered nobody will be happy about the help." Rosch went on that financial support should be accepted as a tool in order to accelerate Turkey's integration process into the EU and all of these supports will be used to upgrade Turkey's infrastructure in order to reach EU standards.
To conclude - Membership talks with the EU are expected to begin in October, but few believe Turkey will be offered membership in the next 10 years, if ever, unless the EU itself becomes a different sort of association, which cannot be discounted.

New penal code comes into force in Turkey
A new penal code designed to update Turkey's justice system in line with European Union norms came into force on June 1st, but still attracted criticism from journalist groups concerned about restrictions to freedom of conscience.
The first complete revision of the penal code since the establishment of the republic in 1923 was passed last year and brings in a number of human rights reforms especially in the field of women's rights. Forcing girls to undergo virginity tests, a practice that was fairly common until recently, is now specifically against the law and provisions that allowed lesser sentences for those convicted of "honour killings" have been removed. 
The new code also increased sentences to between three and 12 years for officials found guilty of inflicting torture.
New crimes in the code include human smuggling, committing genocide and denying another person's human rights. While the code has been praised by human rights groups and the European Union - it was a precondition for the beginning of membership talks in October - it has been severely criticised by journalist groups. Under the code journalists could be disciplined if they call on military conscription to be axed or insult a minister of state. It has also been suggested that stating in print that Turkey committed genocide on Armenians during and after the First World War - a charge that Turkey denies - could result in heavy prison terms.
It is the vagueness of the law, which upsets journalists groups who are worried that conservative judges could interpret an "insult" to be almost anything critical of the state or government. Some fears were allayed when parliament passed amendments to the code recently but media groups say they did not go far enough.
Oktay Eksi, head of the Turkish Press Council, said in an open letter to the prime minister that he would go as far as the European Court of Human Rights to have the offending articles removed.
The government also stirred up controversy when it removed the threat of imprisonment for those who set up illegal Koran courses. The move was severely criticised by secular groups concerned that it may lead to a rise in Islamic extremism. That particular provision must still be signed by the president before it comes into force.

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TAI begins manufacturing major A400M component

Turkey's aviation giant Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) recently launched a production line to manufacture a major component for the multinational A400M or Future Large Aircraft (FLA) programme, Anadolu News Agency reported. 
Under the FLA programme, 180 aircraft will be manufactured and delivered to participating countries only. Belgium will buy seven aircraft, France 50, Germany 60, Luxembourg one, Spain 27, Britain 25 and Turkey 10 while TAI will have a work share of 7.15% in the overall programme. According to the programme, TAI which is a partner of FLA, will manufacture the forward-centre fuselage for the A400M military aircraft. TAI's involvement in the FLA programme will earn the company a Design Organisation Approval designation (JAR-21 Part JA) by Airbus Military S.L, the international consortium which will design the FLA. TAI is also a partner in Airbus Military S.L. According to Turkish officials, TAI's involvement in the designing of FLA will help the Turkish defence industry to join hands with the European aviation industry. The contract for the A400M was signed in May 2003.

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Turkey focuses on building better ties with Mideast

Turkey and Arab countries should create a region of wealth by implementing joint projects in trade, energy and transportation that would assure sustainable development, Turkish State Minister, Kursat Tuzmen, said at the Turkish-Arab Economic Forum in Istanbul recently, Anadolu News Agency reported.
The forum aimed at bolstering cooperation between Turkey and Arab countries.
Tuzmen said Arab countries had a particular place in Turkey's strategy towards neighbouring and surrounding countries, according to the Turkish press. Tuzmen underlined that Turkey earned US$11.7bn from exports to Arab countries last year and recalled that this figure was only US$2.8bn in 2000. Imports by Turkey from Arab countries climbed from US$4.5 to 7.6bn in the same year.
Trade volume with the Arab states is expected to reach US$24bn in the first four months of 2005, according to reports. The most important project related with Arab countries was to set up a joint welfare area where goods, capital and services could freely move among the regional countries, Tuzmen stressed. Meanwhile, Turkey's largest construction materials company plans to extend its growth in the Middle East and will use the first official Turkish trade exhibition in the UAE in June to launch its expansion plans in the regional market.
Mesa Imalat, which holds an 85% share of the Turkish construction market, already revealed that it is opening two offices - one in Sharjah and one in Kuwait - to take advantage of the burgeoning construction projects going on in the region. "We have a thriving business on home soil and we are already exporting to the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, CIS and the Far East," Recep Bayramogu, regional coordinator, Mesa Imalat, was quoted as saying.
Bayramogu added that exports have already taken off to the UAE and Kuwait and he expects that exports would stand at US$25m by the end of this year. The group has been involved in the reconstruction activities of the earthquake-hit Marmara and has taken an active role in the development of various five-star hotel projects in Turkey.
Mesa Imalat showed the Middle East market its range of forms, pre-cast elements and scaffolding products at the "Made in Turkey" exhibition, which took place at Dubai's Word Trade Centre in June. Authorised and licensed by the undersecretariat of foreign trade, "Made in Turkey" was the Turkish government's first official trade fair that aimed to generate business for the country's construction, fashion and machinery sectors. The exhibition was organised by Expotim International Fair Organisations Inc, a Turkish events management company.
The exhibition was staged at a time when Turkey is aiming to increase trade volumes with the Gulf region, which may secure 30% of its total foreign trade. The Turkish government is pursuing a free trade agreement with the GCC countries, in particular the UAE which provides a gateway to the rest of the Gulf region, the Indian sub-continent and the East Africa's markets. "Made in Turkey" highlights the country's efforts to increase the diversification of the goods it exports, and all participating sectors have contributed to a significant rise in trade volumes to and from the Middle East, according to the reports. 

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Turkey's tourism leans towards new markets

Turkish tourism, at its peak in southern city of Antalya that has been dependent on the German market for long years, is now leaning towards new markets, New Europe reported recently. 
The number of tourists who came to Antalya in the first 4 months of this year increased 25.07%. According to figures released by Antalya Culture and Tourism office, the number of Swiss tourists who came to Antalya increased 86.18% between January 1st and April 30th. In the same period, the number of Australian tourists rose 45%, while Danish tourists climbed 84%, Norwegians increased 206%, Hungarians were up 116% and Portuguese increased 143%. German tourists reigned in the list of tourists who come to Antalya from other countries between January 1st and April 30th. Dutch and Swiss tourists ranked second in the same period. Representatives of the Antalya tourism sector stated that the domestic tourism sector has taken fruitful initiatives on the Swiss, Austrian, Israeli, Belgian, French and British markets.

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