Books on Turkey
Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Turkey was created in 1923 from the Turkish remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Soon thereafter the country instituted secular laws to replace traditional religious fiats. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. Turkey occupied the northern portion of Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island; relations between the two countries remain strained. Periodic military offensives against Kurdish separatists have dislocated part of the population in southeast Turkey and have drawn international condemnation.
Update No: 083 - (19/03/04)
The European ambition
The Turks are at a crossroads. The present moderate Islamicist government is desperately keen to see movement on Turkey's candidature for the EU. In this it is like all its recent predecessors.
There is consensus across the political spectrum that the EU is Turkey's natural home, not the Middle East. It first acquired the ambition to join Europe in the aftermath of the break-up of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. Ataturk, the great leader of the country in 1923-38, made the West the model, consciously turning his country's back on the Ottoman past. Even the language and alphabet were Westernised.
The EU has, indeed, made Turkey a candidate for joining, but still objects to human rights abuses, many due to the long struggle against secessionist Kurds. There are certain signs of improvement here, but not on a scale to satisfy the critics in the EU. That Turkey is a genuine democracy was shown in March2003 when the parliament, strongly against the government's wishes, vetoed US troop deployment in the south to launch a northern front in Iraq. This cost the country a huge loan.
The Armenian holocaust still relevant
There is one thing that the Turks could do to improve their image in the West profoundly and that is to make an admission and an apology concerning the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. The facts are scarcely in dispute, with certain Turkish scholars admitting as much. Tanar Akcam is one such a professor of history living in Minnesota, US, and unable to find an academic post in Turkey.
The event took place when Europe itself had gone mad. To make a public apology would be highly popular in Turkey, but do much to make Europeans begin to feel that Turkey was now democratic, which involves a respect for minority rights, not just the rule of the majority.
German opposition to Turkish membership
The real snag for the Turks is that the majority of Germans are against the idea of Turkey in the EU. They already have 2.5 million Turks officially. The true figure is probably nearer 4 million, including illegal immigrants.
They do the less wanted jobs, but are still distrusted by many. In a recent poll 57% were against and 37% for, no doubt many Turkish citizens amongst them. The new liberalism of Germany has its limits.
Playing on this, the leader of the German opposition, Angela Merkel, head of the Christian Democrats, proposed recently a "privileged partnership" instead of outright membership as the right formula for the relations between Turkey and the EU. Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan totally rejected this idea. Chancellor Schroeder has promised that the Social Democrats would continue to support Turkey's EU aspirations. But Erdogan must expect that Schroeder is likely to be out of power long before it matters. Perhaps more than a decade of negotiations would be necessary.
Inflation right down
The economy is beleaguered, having had a very uneven performance of late, with a nosedive two years ago, from which recovery is by no means complete.
But one positive development is that the rate of inflation on an annual basis fell to single figures in February. After decades of inflation at 70% or more this is an achievement.
GDP growth is expected to be 5% this year. The Turkish economy may have turned the corner.
Fitch upgrades Turkey's credit note
International credit rating agency Fitch recently reported that Turkey's credit note increase reflects an improvement in maintaining sustainable macroeconomic stability, reported New Europe recently.
According to a statement released by the agency, while Turkey's long term local and exchange credit note is increased to B+, the outlook is determined to be stable. Fitch confirmed Turkey's short-term note as B. In the statement, it was emphasised that for sustainable stability, drops in inflation and interest rates are needed as well as stability in exchange rates. It was also stated that these improvements stem from the reforms and financial preventative measures within the framework of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-supported economic programme. The Fitch credit report on Turkey also said the Turkish government's determination for a broader scope of both economic and political reforms and the foreign financial concerns. The 2004 financial outlook is stated as relatively good.
However, a warning was made about concerns for sustainable public finance despite improvements. In particular, it emphasised that to achieve 6.5% primary budget surplus, the country would need additional preventative measures and a slow pace privatisation programme. The report states that relations with the IMF and the European Union play a major role in the reliability of the Turkish government's economic programme. It is reminded that the IMF programme ends this year and claimed another agreement between Turkey and the IMF is requisite. The Fitch also reported that for the success of the economic programme, an encouraging decision from the EU about Turkey's membership would have a significant influence. Reportedly, a stable outlook is not a negative evaluation but it does mean that, in the short run, there would be no other note increment. Fitch increased Turkey's note to B on September 25th, 2003 and stated the outlook as positive.
Turkish section of Baku-Ceyhan to be finished by December
Construction work on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from the Turkish-Georgian border to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan will be completed by the end of 2004, a source in the headquarters of Turkish pipeline company Botas said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
"Construction work on laying the Turkish section of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, including testing, will be completed by the end of the year," the source said. He said that at the moment construction is underway and is not encountering any obstacles on three parts of the Turkish section. "A total of 48% of exploration work and material supplies were completed by the start of February 2004, in addition to 36% of work on preparing the corridor, 26% of pipe-laying work and 23% of welding," the source said. "At the moment installation of 30% of the pile at the sea section of the terminal in Ceyhan has been completed and construction of a tank farm is continuing at the terminal," he said. The pipeline is being built by BP - 30.1%, SOCAR - 25%, Unocal - 8.9%, Statoil - 8.71%, TPAO - 6.53%, ENI - 5%, Itochu - 3.4%, ConocoPhillips - 2.5%, INPEX - 2.5%, Total - 5% and Amerada Hess - 2.36%.
Turkey wants to cooperate with Syria in energy, oil drilling
State Minister, Kursad Tuzmen, said on 6th March that Turkish companies wanted to enter into the Syrian market. Tuzmen and an accompanying delegation, who were paying a visit to Damascus, visited Syrian Minister of Housing and Construction Nihad Mushantat and Syrian Minister of Irrigation, Nadir al-Bunni. In his meeting with Mushantat, Tuzmen said that Turkish-Syrian relations had not been at a desired level for long years but they had improved in recent years, Anatolia News Agency reported.
Tuzmen pointed out that signing a free trade agreement in order to further improve bilateral relations was important. He presented a draft text about free trade agreement to Syria, Tuzmen noted. Mushantat said that Turkey and Syria could cooperate in the Iraqi market.
In his visit to Al-Bunni, Tuzmen said that Turkish contracting and consultancy companies had undertaken important projects abroad. Tuzmen noted that Turkish companies wanted to enter into Syrian market. Al-Bunni said that Syria was ready to listen to problems of Turkish companies working in his country.
Meanwhile, Turkish and Syrian businessmen met to discuss trade and investment. Tuzmen said that they wanted to make cooperation with Syria on energy and oil. Tuzmen visited Syrian Oil and Natural Resources Minister, Ibrahim Haddad. Speaking at the meeting, Tuzmen said they wanted to improve Turkey's studies on energy with the energy studies of Syria carried out in the recent period.
Pointing out that Turkey and Syria were complementary with respect to their strategic positions, Tuzmen said they wanted to work with Syria on oil search, drilling of oil wells, services, natural gas transportation and technical aid.
Meanwhile, it was seen that Hatay Province was included in Syrian borders in maps in Syrian reserve map and some booklets. Replying to questions of reporters on the issue, Tuzmen said: "That is not a political map, that is a reserve map. It shows the reserves in that region. There is no such a thing in maps of Syria after 2003. I cannot engage in that small detail. My duty is to increase reciprocal trade volume and investment."
Tuzmen stressed that Turkey was a very big country and a strong country in the region, and noted that a full peace atmosphere in the region could be provided in case Turkey managed to apply a good model. Stressing that poverty was the difficulty of the region, Tuzmen said: "It is not possible to prevent anything before overcoming this poverty. Those people are our relatives."
Turkish, Djibouti foreign ministers sign cooperation agreement
Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, met recently with Ali Abdi Farah, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation in charge of Relations with Parliament Relations of Djibouti, Anatolia News Agency reported.
The two ministers signed an agreement on cooperation in culture, education, science, press, youth and sports and a cooperation protocol between two foreign ministries.
Speaking in the joint press conference, Gul said that despite the geographical distance between two countries, there was a close friendship between Turkey and Djibouti coming from history.
Touching on strategic importance of Djibouti in its region, Gul said that Djibouti port was one of the most important ports of Africa and stressed that improvement of relations in that respect would be beneficial.
Gul said that Turkey aimed to take new steps in its policies towards Africa and to further improve relations with Djibouti.
Farah stressed importance of the agreements signed between the two countries and expressed belief that the agreements would be beneficial to improvement of bilateral relations.
Turkey, Ukraine sign agreement to set up free trade zones
Turkey and Ukraine have signed the protocol of the fourth term Joint Economic Committee (JEC) meeting, Anatolia News Agency reported.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Dmytro Tabachnyk, and Turkey's State Minister, Kursad Tuzmen, signed the protocol. Tabachnyk said that both sides worked in mutual understanding and noted that the two sides laid the foundation of future cooperation between the two countries.
Stating that investments in iron-steel, chemical industry and construction materials were brought onto the agenda, Tabachnyk said that they reached consensus on preparation of investment projects for setting up free trade zones in both countries.
Tuzmen in his part said that bureaucratic problems on Eximbank's US$20m of loan which would be used in exports to Ukraine were solved and stated that the two countries reached consensus on transformation of the Black Sea into free trade zone in the future.
Our analysts and
editorial staff have many years experience in analysing and reporting
events in these nations. This knowledge is available in the form of
geopolitical and/or economic country reports on any individual or grouping
of countries. Such reports may be bespoke to the specification of clients
or by access to one of our existing specialised reports.
For further information email: