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  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 237,972 182,848 147,700 21
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 US $ 2,790 2,500 2,530 92
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Ahmet Necdet Sezer 

Update No: 105 - (30/01/06)

Ecevit speaks out
Former leaders can often be far more outspoken and forthcoming than those in power. In 1999 the then Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit took up an independent line towards the US, refusing to allow it to use Turkish bases to bomb Iraq. He was forthrightly against the recent US-UK war in Iraq.
At a press conference held at his own home on January 11th, he said that terror aimed at Turkey by the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) was being supported by the US. "It looks like the US has taken up a serious set of approaches towards Turkey in regards to what is happening in Iraq right now. Following the invasion of Iraq by American forces, it has become clear that the US supports certain PKK acts of terrorism." 
This is a highly controversial accusation, but possibly correct. Turkey has friends in high places in Washington, who will give Ecevit a hearing. Nobody could suppose that the elder statesman and intellectual, who has translated T S Eliot into Turkish, is an anti-American or an Anglophobe. He lived in London for many years, the venue for 'The Wasteland.'

Turkey, Denmark in row over Kurdish TV station
People in power have to be more circumspect, as recent events demonstrate. Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who leads a moderate Islamicist party that won a handsome endorsement from the people at the last elections, is keen for Turkey to be taken seriously as a candidate for EU membership. He is well aware that the Northern countries in the EU call the shots here, the Greeks, Italians and Spaniards not being averse, while the Portuguese, the British and the Irish are generally in favour of the idea.
The 'swing' states are Germany, Austria and the Scandinavians. He went to Denmark in November to muster support in this small, but strategically important, country. But the expected presence of a journalist from the Kurdish Roj TV, which is claimed to have links to the outlawed PKK, led him not to show up at a scheduled press conference on 15 November, hosted by Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Copenhagen.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has now urged Denmark to clarify its attitude towards Roj TV, which is based in Copenhagen. "Roj TV is an organisation which is the voice of the terror organization PKK," said a foreign ministry spokesman. Roj TV has said it had no links with the PKK. 
Citing principles on which he could not compromise, Rasmussen said that he had "no legal basis to exclude journalists from press conferences as long as they work within the law," adding that there are some things that we "see fundamentally different." He also said that "Turkey has to realise that there are some very specific conditions that need to be fulfilled if Turkey wants to become an EU member one day."
The Turkish visit to Denmark already had a heated backdrop because of the Danish daily Jyllands Posten, which published a series of sketched caricatures of the prophet Mohammed in September. Capitals of 11 Muslim countries sent a joint letter of protest to the Danish prime minister. 
Erdogan said: "Freedom of speech is important, but what is holy to me is more important. I would never abuse my freedom of speech to attack things that are holy to Mr Rasmussen."
A recent opinion poll has shown that 55% of the Danes are against Turkish EU-membership, an ominous result for Ankara. A new entrant has to have unanimous support among the 25-nation organization. 

Merkel comes round
Nevertheless, some are more equal than others in geopolitics, as in life at large. The key state for Turkey to win over to its side is Germany, which has the means to persuade other, smaller members to its view of the matter. 
Germany's new chancellor, Angela Merkel, was in opposition strongly opposed to Turkish membership of the EU. But she has come round to seeing the Turkish point of view. She now says that "things will develop well" with Turkey, and has acknowledged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statement that Berlin and Ankara "will walk hand in hand as always." Merkel met with Erdogan during the Euro-Mediterranean summit in Barcelona on 27 November and she reassured the Turkish leader that "'pacta sunt servanda [agreements must be respected] applies and that things will develop well." 
Merkel has accepted an invitation to visit Ankara, and said that she will work for the integration of the estimated 3.5 million Turkish immigrants into German society. It is fears of their massive augmentation of course that makes many in Germany, as in Austria, oppose the idea of EU membership for Turkey.
Merkel's Christian Democrats have been arguing in favour of granting "privileged partnership" status rather than full membership to Turkey. Ankara has declared that no alternative to full membership was acceptable for the country. Everything looks still to be in the balance.

The Pamuk moment
A key factor will be Turkey's comportment as regards human rights. There is another Turkish intellectual than Ecevit who is stirring things up right now, Orhan Pamuk, its great novelist, author of Snow and Istanbul and several other highly esteemed works. It would be interesting to have Ecevit's frank views on Pamuk and his latest stand.
Pamuk, 53, often mentioned as a Nobel Prize candidate, faces up to three years in jail for "insulting Turkish identity" by telling a Swiss newspaper that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in the country in the 20th century. Pamuk is set to be tried under the criticised Article 301 of the recently revised Turkish penal code. The article has drawn criticism from all over the world.
The Istanbul court deliberating the case of Pamuk decided to adjourn the trial until 7th February 2006 to give the Turkish Justice Ministry time to establish whether the case was in line with judicial procedures.
According to observer accounts, Pamuk's initial hearing on 16th December took place amid chaotic scenes. Reiterating Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn's opinion that "not just Pamuk but Turkey also was on trial" in Istanbul, MEP Geoffrey Van Orden said that the "scenes in the courthouse were chaotic and became very aggressive". 
Pravda reported that in the courtroom one lawyer shouted at the European delegation that "you have no right to interfere in the Turkish justice system." Inside the packed courtroom, a British diplomat and a German MEP were reportedly attacked by "hostile" groups of nationalists, who also threw eggs at Pamuk.
MEP Camiel Eurlings said that "this is a black day for Turkey's accession process. The [Turkish] government badly missed the opportunity to cancel this case, having it go ahead instead. This is very bad for Turkey's image in Europe".
Rehn, a key figure if ever there was one, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement no less, has said that the case is "a litmus test as to whether Turkey is seriously committed to the freedom of expression and reforms that enhance the rule of law and benefit all Turkish citizens." Ankara be warned.

Turkish tourism fears slowdown from bird flu
Turkey has been in the news for another reason recently, the spread of bird flu. One can only hope that this scare proves as ephemeral as earlier ones, such as mad cow disease. Europeans love to have a live horror story from time to time, whether from humans, 'terrorism,' or animality and Nature itself.
Tourism is one of Turkey's main source of revenues, and with the recent outbreak of bird flu, in which three children have died, the tourism industry in Turkey are now fearing a devastating slowdown in business. Russia and the UK have already warned their citizens not to travel to Turkey, which is not a good sign for the tourism sector as visitors from these countries make up the bulk of tourism to the country. 
"The situation is alarming to the tourism industry," Osman Ayik, the head of the hoteliers' association in the Mediterranean province of Antalya, where Turkey's largest and most popular seaside resorts are located, told Anatolia news agency. The outbreak, he said, erupted just as sales for the summer season were about to begin. 
Another industry representative, Tayfun Zeytinbas, who heads an association of hotel managers, said that "the spread of bird flu to Antalya will pose a great danger to the sector. Even if there are no cancellations, we will be asked to discount prices."

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Ford invests 225m Euro in Turkey

The Ford company at the Istanbul Stock Exchange stated that the company aims to increase the annual production capacity of its Kocaeli plant form 240,000 to 280,000. Car manufacturer Ford Otosan is investing 225m Euro in the project, Cihan News Agency reported.
The renovation of Ford Transit and Transit Connect vehicles, developing new engines for the vehicles in question and their manufacture at the company's Inonu Plant in Eskisehir province, were among the other current Ford Otosan projects. Ford Otosan has three plants in Turkey, namely Kocaeli, Eskisehir Inonu and Istanbul Kartal facilities. Ford's Kartal plant is the biggest spare part distribution centre in Turkey. The company currently employs 7,725 people at its plants. Ford manufactured 206,741 vehicles in 2004, an 80 per cent increase compared to 2003. The company exported 139,111 of the total production.

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TAI wins US$235 million offset work from Alenia 

Tusas Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. (TAI) has won an award of US$235 million from Alenia Aeronautica SpA, the Rome-based aircraft manufacturing arm of Italian defence giant Finmeccanica, of offset business as part of a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) contract last year. Turkey's Defence Industry Executive Committee decided in January 2005 to open contract negotiations with Alenia for the deal. Alenia was competing with Spain's Construcciones Aeronauticas S.A. (CASA), Madrid, New Europe has reported. 
Last June, Alenia inked a US$219 million deal with Turkey for the sale of a batch of 10 MPAs. On December 21st the offset deal was penned at a ceremony attended by Defence Minister, Vecdi Gonul, Undersecretatiat for the Defence Industry (SSM) Chief, Murad Bayar, TAI's CEO, Muharrem Dortkasli and Alenia's CEO ,Giovanni Bertolone. 
Two memorandums of understanding were signed to seal the offset commitments of Alenia as part of the MPA contract. They involve parts manufacturing by TAI for Boeing's B787 aircraft. One of the MoUs will make TAI the only elevator assembler of B787s in the world, according to TAI officials. Turkey is becoming an increasingly luring market for Alenia. As part of a broad and aggressive plan to invest in geographies where industrial cooperation is possible, Alenia has been seeking a strategic partner in EU-candidate Turkey for a long-term industrial cooperation for ongoing and future programs in Turkey and in third countries. 
Alenia officials said they don't see Turkey in search of customers but they see Turkey as a country where comprehensive cooperation with the local industry is possible. In another potential deal that may go up to billions of dollars, Alenia has been spending efforts to ensure Turkey joins the European Euro fighter program, or just buy the Euro fighter Typhoon weapons system off the shelf. 

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S&P's upgrades Turkcell to B+ 

Turkish mobile telecommunications company Turkcell according to Standard & Poor's Ratings Services was raised to B+ from B its long-term foreign currency corporate credit rating and removed from Credit Watch with positive implications, where it was placed on March 25th 2005. The outlook is positive, New Europe reported.
"The upgrade and Credit Watch resolution reflect Turkcell's continued solid operating performance and financial profile, despite ongoing shareholder litigation," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst, Patrice Cochelin. Turkcell remained at number one position as the provider of mobile telephony on the fast growing Turkish market and its strong, consistent operating performance.
Mobile phone penetration among the young and fast-growing Turkish population is now about 60 per cent, up from 49 per cent at year-end 2004.

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Turkey floats tender for privatisation of Izmir Port 

Cihan news agency reports that tender for the privatisation of Izmir port has begun. On the date of the signing of the contract for the transfer of operating rights bids offered may be paid in cash. Applications for the tender will be submitted to the Privatisation Board from March 24 to April 7. If the amount is paid in instalments, at least 50 per cent of the total will be paid on the signing date, at least 25 per cent a year later and another 25 per cent two years after the signing. 
A simple interest rate of nine per cent will be applied to the amount to be paid in instalments. Prospective bidders in the tender process will have to have a turnover of at least US$100 million or have available funds equal to at least US$100 million, or have at least US$75 million in assets or at least US$30 million in total equities in 2005. If a joint venture company wants to make a proposal, at least one of the partners of the joint venture should have the financial capability conforming to the above criteria. It is obligatory to buy bid specifications and promotion documents prior to entering the tender process. A bid bond (provisional bond) costs US$15 million while tender documents are sold for 15,000 Turkish lira.

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