For current reports go to EASY FINDER




In-depth Business Intelligence

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)

Books on Turkey


Update No: 156 - (25/05/10)

Key to the Middle East
The politics of the Middle East might appear to be simple – Israel against the rest. Actually Turkey, which is only 5% in Europe, whose EU it aspires to join, and 95% in the Middle East, is in many ways the arbiter of the region.

It is not automatically anti-Israeli, but it is now very much ‘anti’ the present Israeli government i.e. it is very anti-Netanyahu and his policy of expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Consequently, it has been the target of intense diplomatic activity of late. The mullahs in Iran may be Shia, while the AKP Islamist party in power in Turkey is Sunni. But they are both Muslims (a fact that would be readily acknowledged by the Iranians, even if not so easily by the Turks).

A dubious deal
Still the Iranian leadership is convinced that it can put maximum pressure on Tel Aviv by playing the Turkish card to the full. They have forged a deal for Ankara to accept the enrichment of Iran's low enriched uranium in Turkey. "The Iranians have manipulated Turkey and Brazil in appearing to accept the enrichment of part of their uranium on Turkish soil," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"The Iranians have already pulled off such a trick in the past -- by pretending to accept such a procedure to lower tensions and reduce the risk of harsher international sanctions, then refusing to follow through," he said. Top diplomats from Iran, Brazil and Turkey on May 17 inked in a deal which will allow Tehran to swap its low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel in an exchange to take place on Turkish soil.

The official said the Iranian initiative was likely to "complicate issues" for world powers looking to rein in Iran's nuclear programme. "It is going to be much more difficult for the United States or the Europeans to reject this arrangement because it's no longer just about Iran, which is a much easier situation to manage," he said.
There is no doubt that this dubious deal has upset the pattern of Middle Eastern politics. Turkey, so long as it is run by the AKP, is no sure friend of Israel.

Mending fences with the Greeks
It is a quite different story with Greece, a former foe and foil of Turkey. The president of the Turkish Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, went to Athens, the cradle of Western civilisation, in early May to mend fences, or rather marine borders, with the Greeks. Of the hundreds of marvellous islands off the coast of Turkey in the Mediterranean most are Greek – a permanent affront to the Turks.

Erdogan was in his most urbane and irenic mood. He advocated settling matters between 'the Hellenes and the Ionians' in pacific mode.

Improving relations between Greece and Turkey could lead to arms reduction in both countries, Erdogan said in a published interview as he wrapped up his Athens visit. "The development of relations between Greece and Turkey will boost the climate of trust and stability (and) ultimately the natural consequence could be arms reduction," Erdogan told Greek newspaper Ta Nea.

This is the more significant in that calls to reduce arms in both countries were left unanswered when Erdogan met his Greek counterpart Papandreou during his first official visit to the Greek capital since 2004.

On top of marking an important improvement in relations, reciprocal commitments to reduce arms would be particularly welcome in Greece, which is among the biggest defence spenders in Europe and is struggling to control a debt crisis. Greece currently spends around 2.8 percent of its national output on defence -- proportionately more than France or Britain -- or six billion euros this year, mostly due to its standoff with Turkey.

Regional rivals for centuries despite being members of NATO for the past five decades, Greece and Turkey came to the brink of war as recently as 1996 and are still mired in dispute over the ethnically divided island of Cyprus.

With Greece forced to go to the EU and IMF for a multi-billion-dollar bail out package that has entailed harsh austerity measures, military spending has also come under review.

Officials have said they hope to cut some 700 million euros of arms spending this year, but have indicated larger cutbacks depend on reciprocal measures by Turkey.

Turkey, which has NATO's second largest standing army, is also burdened with a hefty military bill, fighting an armed Kurdish insurgency in its southeast since 1984.

The Greek and Turkish governments hailed a "big step forward" in their relations on Friday, the first day in Erdogan's stay in Athens, which he said marked "a historic moment".

The two governments agreed to set up a council to hold regular meetings between the two countries' leaders and their cabinet ministers, and inked pacts on the economy, immigration, energy and other issues.

"I am confident that the novel and courageous step we are attempting today can pay off because the will is there," Papandreou said at a joint news conference with Erdogan on Friday.

The two countries also signed a number of deals, including an accord allowing illegal migrants coming from Turkey to Greece to be sent back, an issue that has been a major source of discord between the arch-rivals.

They also signed a memorandum on the ITGI pipeline bringing Azeri gas to Italy via Turkey and Greece in which the two sides said they would redouble their efforts to complete the project.

The Greek press welcomed the improvement in relations between the countries, but also highlighted that many of the most contentious issues remained unresolved.

"The intentions are good but the thorns remain," the centre-left, pro-government Ta Nea headlined.

While welcoming agreement on a raft of issues, the newspaper said that the "prickly questions concerning the Aegean, Cyprus and minorities persist".

The liberal Kathimerini said that the two countries' long-time positions were "unchanging despite the good intentions" and the deals that were signed "were not followed up with progress" on points of contention.

Eurasian energy corridors
Turkey has been one of the strongest supporters of the proposed Southern Gas Corridor and Nabucco energy supply routes. Indeed, the creation of a diversified network of supply routes from East to West has long been and remains one of Turkey’s most pressing national policy priorities.

The evidence is clear and abundant. Turkey played a prominent role in the successful completion of major projects, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan crude oil pipeline, the Baku-Tblisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline and the Turkey-Greece gas interconnector. While in Baku recently, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan re-energized talks on the Shah Deniz II project. An expeditious deal should not surprise anyone.

Also, Turkey is assiduously working with other partner countries on the legal and technical infrastructures of the Nabucco project to create a draft intergovernmental agreement, and Turkey will host the agreement signing ceremony in June. Why do so if Turkey were not committed to the completion of Nabucco?

If anything, the biggest impediment to progress on Nabucco’s development has come from partners in the European Union, whose policy toward diversifying sources and routes of energy from the East has been hobbled by a lack of consensus among its member nations. Happily, the E.U. overcame its own hesitancy about Nabucco when, at a May 7 and 8 summit in Prague, it joined Turkey in a breakthrough agreement that will bring more progress on the project.

It is very much in Turkey’s interest to develop alternative energy sources and routes, and it has been pressing many others to see that neither Turkey nor much of the rest of the world can afford any further delay.


« Top


« Back


Published by 
Newnations (a not-for-profit company)
PO Box 12 Monmouth 
United Kingdom NP25 3UW 
Fax: UK +44 (0)1600 890774