Books on Turkey
Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Update No: 103 - (28/11/05)
The conundrum of Europe
The issue of the day for the Turks is entry into the EU. This is not certain to
happen; even if it does this would probably not be for fifteen years.
Nevertheless, with talks with Brussels having started on October 3rd the
question is on the agenda; 'To join, or not to join.'
The Europeans also have a conundrum on their plate, whether to admit this huge
country with 70 million people and a high birth rate, or not. What is obvious is
that a massive inrush of low-wage workers, often not able to find jobs, could be
very disruptive and could provoke a nasty backlash from chauvinist elements in
the EU countries, led by the likes of Le Pen in France or Lepper in Poland. The
recent riots in France in immigrant quarters bear this out. A special clause
limiting the scale of immigration from Turkey is on the cards, quite reasonably
so. The free movement of labour, one of the foundry principles, may not be
sustainable for the latterday concept of an enlarged European Union.
On the plus side the integration of a large secular Muslim nation-state would
send out the right signal to the Islamic world that the West is not hostile to
Islam as such, only to terrorist variants of it, as of any other religion,
including Christianity. This was almost certainly the argument used by Jack
Straw, the British foreign secretary, to swing the decision of whether to open
negotiations the right way in late September and early October, particularly
overcoming Austrian objections. He was fortunate that Angela Merkel was not yet
in harness in Berlin or we might have seen a new axis of Berlin and Vienna at
work to scupper the project.
Making the case for Turkey inside the EU
Those in favour of Turkish entry need to address the difficulties squarely and
make a rounded case. There are several matters to be considered. One is that
Turkish entry into the CAP of the EU would put an intolerable strain on its
finances, given the scale of rural poverty in Anatolia. The fact that Turkey
could apply for enormous sums of regional aid would be an appalling burden on
the Brussels budget.
Other special dispensations would be required. But in 15 years much will have
changed. By 2020 the CAP might have ceased to exist in its present form, making
for an easing of the situation.
The demographic predicament
The really big stumbling-block is that of immigration. Actually, by 2020 or so
the EU will in all likelihood be suffering from labour shortages, especially in
low-paid manual jobs. On present demographic trends there will be a rise of 77%
in the over-65 year-olds by 2050, with a marked rise already evident by 2020.
The trend by 2050 will leave two instead of four workers for every pensioner.
The EU will need root-and-branch reforms of its public finances, its tax base,
its pensions and health systems to deal with an ageing population, Joaquin
Almunia, the Spanish socialist, who is the economic and monetary affairs
commissioner, said on October 24th.
An influx of Turks, and possibly Ukrainians, could help to resolve the labour
shortages. Mr Almunia called for controlled, but substantial immigration to
assist the restructuring of labour markets required. "It's a question of
whether societies and institutions are able to absorb and integrate these
people. You have to combine labour market requirements with social and political
constraints and, in my native Spain, we have taken in millions of migrants in
the last six or seven years but we don't feel the absorption capacity has been
This might seem a curious argument to use when there is so much unemployment
around, one in five young folk in the EU being without a job. But it is
structural, confined to certain types of jobs. Moreover, the restrictive
monetary policies of Euroland are in part responsible for the problem. A new
social contract, such as the New Deal in the US under Roosevelt is pre-eminently
The US is a good point of comparison in another sense. Its own population is set
to grow rapidly to over 500 million by 2050, with Mexicans and others coming in
from the south. If the EU wants to rival the American giant and the low-wage
Chinese colossus, it will need its own inflow of able-bodied, hard-working
immigrants too. This is more especially true if the EU wants to overcome the
sclerosis of its economic structures that on present estimates, according to Mr
Almunia, will see growth of GDP in the 15 original members decline from 2.3% per
year until 2010 to 1.8% in 2011-2030 and to 1.3% in 2031-2050, if labour
productivity continues to grow at 1.7%.
The Turks and others can come to the rescue here. That this would put strains on
the social order is true, but there could be a massive upside as well. Europe's
whole future is in the balance. After energy and the environment, there is no
more important issue on the agenda for European leaders than the enlargement,
eastwards as well as south-eastwards, of the EU.
Turkey plans US$10bn energy plants at Ceyhan
Turkey wants to promote Ceyhan as a hub for regional oil and gas trade and is to
planning to build an oil refinery, an LNG terminal and a petrochemicals plant on
its Mediterranean coast. Turkey is planning to invest US$10 billion on this
project, New Europe reported.
Ceyhan is already the terminus of a 1.5 million barrels per day pipeline and a
terminal for Iraqi crude. Another line with one million barrels per day capacity
from Baku on the Caspian through Tbilisi will come on stream in early 2006.
According to the energy official, "The government has started talks with
leading international energy companies to build the project. A total investment
value of US$10 billion has been calculated for the three plants," he said.
Italian Energy Company ENI announced plans on November 9 to evaluate with the
Turkish company Calik a one-million-barrel-per-day pipeline to link Samsun to
Turkey gets 1.6bn Euro IMF loan
The International Monetary Fund has agreed to release 1.6 billion Euro in
delayed loan payments to Turkey and has accepted that legislation to overhaul
the country's social security system will not be brought in before next year,
officials said, Anadolu News Agency reported.
The agreement ends weeks of stalemate between the IMF and Turkey over the social
security legislation, which is aimed at unifying various institutions,
collecting outstanding payments, and streamlining the system. The decision to
release the loan payments comes after the government agreed to its 2006 budget,
which includes a commitment to a primary surplus of 6.5 percent of GDP. The IMF
froze loans under a US$10 billion stand-by programme in July due to
dissatisfaction at Turkey's low pace in social security reforms.
Turkey to privatise power plants
This year Turkey has received a record breaking 20bn Euro from privatisations.
In the course of current privatisations, Turkey will continue with the sell-off
of electricity power plants across the country in 2006, reported Anadolu News
The Turkish government plans to sell first the energy distribution companies and
follow with the sale of the power plants. The privatisation board, backed by the
energy ministry, has started the preliminary preparations for the sale of the
Turkey hopes tourism boom helps its EU bid
Some 22 million tourists are expected to visit Turkey this year - an increase of
25 per cent over last year, according to figures from the Ministry of Culture
and Tourism. Those visitors include 12 million Europeans and a growing number
from the United States who have become enchanted with this country lying on the
fringes of Europe and Asia, rich in the ancient histories of many civilizations.
Some 334,000 US citizens visited Turkey during the first nine months of 2005, a
47 per cent increase over last year, and some 550,000 American tourists are
expected next year, New Europe reported.
Turkish leaders hope that all these tourists will help improve their country's
image and deepen ties with other nations - an effort that has become
particularly important as negotiations get underway for full membership for
Turkey in the European Union. The EU talks began October 3, but the proposal
remains controversial. If admitted, Turkey would be the only country in the EU
that is virtually all Muslim, and it would stretch the borders of the EU east to
Iran, Syria and Iraq. The latest polls show only 35 percent of Europeans support
Turkey's EU bid, and their views on Turkey's lack of "Europeanness"
are proving stubbornly hard to overcome - even among Europeans who enjoy
vacationing here. Still, tourism is seen as a way to soften these attitudes.
"Tourism must be taken up as a national policy priority, supported by all
sectors, groups and organisations," the government's 2005 "Tourism
Master Plan" posted on the ministry's web site says.
Ankara to expand tourism relations with Teheran
Representatives of Iranian and Turkish travel agencies will probably attend
Iran's international tourism exhibition scheduled to be held in Isfahan in
December. Turkey's cultural and information affairs attaché in Iran, Mehmet
Kaya announced his country's participation in the exhibition. The exhibition
will have a workshop that will comprise of 200 representatives of Iranian and
Turkish travel agencies. In this workshop, ways for attracting tourists will be
studied. Kaya also specified that Turkey is willing to help Iran in holding such
exhibitions in a proper organised manner, Anadolu News Agency reported.
According to Kaya, one of the most important issues in developing the tourism
industry is holding tourism exhibitions. Every year Turkey holds a tourism
exhibition to advertise its tourism, through introducing itself to the world and
gaining considerable profits.
"Since 1980, Turkey gave its tourism industry special attention, and all
the articles and regulations of the country are in favour of a flourishing
tourism industry in the country; besides the private sector plays an active role
in the issue," asserted Kaya.
Tourism is a great source of economic income for Turkey and the country has been
very successful in attracting tourists in the past few years. During this year,
Turkey had attracted 12m tourists, among which 940,000 were Iranians and about
3m from the Arab countries of Persian Gulf region.
In order to boost its tourism revenue, environmental issues were also focused as
it provides the necessary bed for foreign investment in the sector and
facilities for representatives of foreign tour agencies to work in the country.