Books on Turkey
Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Update No: 093 - (28/01/05)
The November 2002 election of the Justice and Development
Party (AKP) as Turkey's first single-party government in 15 years changed the
political landscape. Under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who belatedly became prime
minister in March 2003-the conservative AKP has undertaken ambitious reforms
with the long-term aim of Turkey joining the European Union. These have weakened
the country's meddlesome generals and reversed decades of corruption, economic
mess and authoritarian abuse of power. Turkey's 14m Kurds, who secured an
interim constitution in March 2004, have been among the main beneficiaries.
Turkish-Cypriot support for a UN-backed reunification plan for the island also
aided Turkey's European aspirations, and in October 2004 the EU recommended the
opening of membership talks.
Yet Western states remain suspicious of the depth of Turkey's reforms and fear
that its prime minister (and his equally pious wife) will put the country on a
more Islamic path. Relations with America have cooled since Turkey refused to
let US troops attack Iraq from its territory in March 2004; blunt comments from
Mr Erdogan have harmed those with Israel, another ally. But a personal
friendship between the Turkish and Greek prime ministers could improve relations
between the two traditional enemies.
EU membership the main issue
Turkey's EU membership continues to be a hot topic on the international agenda,
triggering the unconcealed doubts of some Europeans as to how
"Western" the country really is. Turkey has a lot to gain from its
membership, politically, economically and strategically. Joining the EU will
bolster Turkey's civil society and democracy bringing a definite end to the era
of military interventions; accord her a more privileged place in the Islamic
world; diminish the state's role in the economy and the state's centralizing
command over the society; render Turkish Armed Forces a significant part and
parcel of any European Army; and provide many young Turks access to new
opportunities for better education. A number of European politicians seem to
contend that this is too much to bestow to a country whose position in the map
of civilizations is still notoriously dubious.
Turkey might have a lot to gain from her full membership but so has the EU much
to gain from her inclusion. Once the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline is completed, the
EU will have one less worry about her energy needs. Given that the EU is
Turkey's number one trading partner this large, dynamic, and young society will
provide an important market for Europe and will further help to overcome the
paucity in Europe's labour, land and natural sources. Furthermore, it is
apparent that in the years to follow the world's strategic mapping will shift
again, as it has many times in history, and the Middle East will attain enormous
importance in shaping both international and domestic politics. Within this
framework, Turkey's full membership will help the EU to strengthen its hand
regionally and globally, furnishing it with a more credible role vis-a-vis
ethnic, religious and national tensions around the world. After Turkey's
inclusion the Islamic world will have a better view of the EU and hopefully, the
EU will have a better view of Islam.
It is a truism that there is an ongoing clash today. But unlike what many like
to think, this is not a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. On
the one hand are those who want to live a life primarily, if not entirely,
surrounded by people who are like them, who think and act and dress and talk and
pray just like them, who are each other's mirror images. On the other hand are
those others who are more cosmopolitan, more ready to welcome ethnic, religious,
national diversity, those who are not so obsessed with their mirror image. The
clash between these two mentalities is an ongoing tension that recognizes no
map, cutting across national, geographical and religious boundaries.
Today in some Turkish villages on the Aegean coast there is an enduring custom
regarding the mirrors on the walls. They either cover the surface of a mirror
with dark velvet or hang it with its silver ornamented back facing the wall.
Aegean peasants believe that mirrors are the gateways to the uncanny netherworld
of the djinni. Perhaps the belief is the outcome of centuries of wisdom in an
old land where numerous ethnic and religious groups have both succeeded and
failed to co-exist. In lands like this, in times like this, one should know
Foreign minister Gul in Israel
Turkish-Israeli ties have weakened in recent times, in part due to Tel
Aviv's hard line against the Palestinians. Restoring ties between Ankara and Tel
Aviv and restarting the Middle East peace process topped the agenda of Turkish
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul during his three-day visit to Israel and
Palestine, starting on January 3rd.
Gul held meetings in Tel Aviv with Israeli President Moshe Katsav, Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. He also met with
Palestinian leaders. In late December, Turkey offered to act as a mediator in
the Middle East Peace Process, saying that its good relations with all parties
involved could help promote an end to the instability in the region
Turkey, Russia celebrate trade ties, while probing an expansion of
Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes that trade with Turkey will rise by
50 per cent in the near future, hitting US$15 billion. He expressed this hope on
January 11th at a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, who arrived
in Moscow on that day for a three-day working visit.
"Your and our best suppositions on the development of relations in the
economic sphere have come true," the Russian head of state said. "I
agree with forecasts that trade may reach 15 billion dollars in the near
Suggesting to concentrate at the talks "mostly on economic
cooperation", Putin noted that "energy and transport are
priorities" in this sphere. He specified that he had in mind "the
power industry, supplies of raw materials and construction of infrastructure
The Russian leader reported at the same time that he would also like to discuss
the development of military cooperation. "We had plans in this sphere, and
I should like to say a few words on this topic," the president said, adding
that he also intends to speak on social issues.
In turn, the Turkish premier claimed that Moscow and Ankara should develop the
tourist industry. "Along with the development of trade and economic
relations, the development of tourism gives a chance to the peoples of our
countries to learn better each other, and prospects for rapprochement
emerge," he noted.
Erdogan noted that trade rose to ten billion dollars in 2004. "I believe
that we shall score new results in a very short period of time," the
Turkish premier continued. He held that "this process will accelerate even
more thanks to investments in Russia and Turkey as well as in third
The premier noted that a Turkish delegation of 600 businessmen arrives for a
meeting of the business communities of the two countries, which will be held in
Moscow on Tuesday. "We arrived on Monday. Another two jetliners will come
today," Erdogan stated. "We shall jointly open earlier built (by the
Turkish side in Russia) new projects and will discuss further expansion of
relations at the talks."
The Turkish premier agreed that the talks should discuss "possibilities for
boosting military cooperation and interaction in the international arena and in
Putin congratulated the Turkish premier and the entire Turkish people on the
coming New Year, wishing them "all the best". The premier also
congratulated Russians on the past holidays. "I want to express a desire
that the year 2005 should bring many good things for all mankind, Russia and
Turkey and that the year 2005 should become a year of prosperity for all of
us," Erdogan noted.
Erdogan also thanked Putin for "warm hospitality at a meeting on Monday
evening". "I hope that today's meetings will be also fruitful,"
the premier added.
Clashes kill seven
Two soldiers and five far left militants, including two women, have been
killed in a clash in eastern Turkey.
The fighting occurred in a rural area in the province of Tunceli, the office of
the local governor said on January 15th, adding that the security operation
there was continuing. Three soldiers were injured, and two of the dead activists
The statement did not say to which group the militants belonged, but local
security officials said they believed that they were from the outlawed Maoist
Communist Party (MKP).
Members of far-left underground organizations have long been active in
mountainous region, along with Kurdish rebels. In December, two MKP militants
were killed in the same province in a clash with security forces.
Koc Holding signals interest in Yapi Kredi Bank stake
Koc Holding, a Turkish conglomerate, has signalled its interest in buying a
substantial stake in Yapi Kredi Bank (YKB), ushering in what bankers say will be
a decisive year in the restructuring of Turkey's creaking banking sector, the
Financial Times reported on January 10th.
Reform of the sector is one of the key aims of December's agreement between
Turkey and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a US$10bn three-year loan
arrangement. The Turkish government has committed to a wide-ranging
restructuring of the sector, including strengthening regulation and rules
government lending and ownership.
Bankers said the YKB stake, which is being sold by Cukurova Group, a rival
conglomerate in severe financial difficulties, could attract other bidders.
These may include some foreign banks, which are perennially seeking to enter the
market but are invariably put off by a lack of transparency and indifference to
YKB is one of Turkey's biggest banks by market share and is valued at some
US$2bn based on its current share price. Cukurova has appointed JPMorgan to
coordinate the sale of the stake.
In a statement to the Istanbul stock exchange recently, Koc said its financial
services unit "plans to begin negotiations to buy" the 45 per cent of
YKB currently owned by Cukurova. Koc Has interests ranging from automotive to
retail and electronics, but has a small banking business.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Russia, Turkey sign trade agreements, seek economic cooperation
Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has stated that Russia is a
country with which Turkey attaches great importance to its friendship, Anatolia
News Agency reported.
Erdogan met recently the Chairman of the Russian Federation Confederation of
Trade & Industry Chambers, Yevgeniy Primakov. "The trade volume between
Turkey and Russia developed significantly in the recent past. Russia is now
Turkey's second biggest trade partner," said Erdogan. "We will
continue to work together and increase mutual investments. We will try to reach
a balance in our trade with Russia," indicated Erdogan.
Erdogan also indicated that the trade volume between Turkey and Russia will
reach US$25bn in 2007. "We plan to increase the total volume to US$30bn.
Businessmen on both sides have a lot of work to do to reach such a target,"
According to Erdogan, Turkish investments in Russia are worth over US$2.5bn.
"We can cooperate with our Russian friends in areas such as energy,
transportation, defence, tourism, food, textiles and banking. Turkish and
Russian companies can form joint ventures to help re-build Iraq," expressed
In a speech, the Russian Federation Industry & Energy Minister Viktor
Borisovich Khristenko has said that sending a Turkish-Russian joint satellite
into space would be important in opening a new page in mutual relations.
Upon the completion of the speeches, trade agreements were signed between the
Chairman of the Russian Federation Confederation of Trade & Industry
Chambers, Yevgeni Primakov, and the Chairman of the Turkish Union of Chambers
& Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), Rifat Hisarciklioglu, as well as between
Turkish-Russian Business Council Chairmen, Alexander Lebedev and Turgut Gur.
Turkish, Belgian premiers discuss bilateral relations, EU
Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, talked with his Belgian
counterpart Guy Verhofstadt, Anatolia News Agency reported.
According to a press release issued by the Prime Minister's Office, Erdogan
discussed the results of the 17 December EU summit with Verhofstadt. "I
told Verhofstadt that the 17 December decision was a turning point in Turkey-EU
relations," said Erdogan. Both leaders agreed on developing cooperation
between their nations prior to 3 October, when Turkey begins accession talks
with the EU. "We will share our experiences gained from new members with
Turkey," stated Verhofstadt.
Erdogan reminded Verhofstadt that the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots should
be ended and that the commission's 7 July decision to facilitate financial aid
to northern Cyprus be immediately put into effect. "A new initiative
sponsored by the UN will be very helpful," remarked Verhofstadt.
Russia to help Turkey with nuclear energy
Russian President, Vladimir Putin's recent historic visit to Turkey started with
a discussion about joint energy projects. Putin offered to help Ankara build a
nuclear energy plant. Turkish Energy Minister, Hilmi Guler, and Russian energy
and Industry Minister, Victor Khristenko, discussed joint energy opportunities.
Khristenko said Russia was prepared to cooperate with turkey on energy and said
the discussions are underway.
The Russian minister further said that Moscow considered Ankara as a
"partner with a vision" of establishing an atomic energy plant and
emphasised that this would be a project for the next 10-15 years. The Turkish
minister spoke on behalf of the government and said they were currently writing
plans for a nuclear energy complexes in China, India and Iran.
The Russian Economic Development and Trade Ministry, trade turnover between
Russia and Turkey in the first half of the current year increased 60.3 per cent
year-on-year to 4.622bn Euro. Russian exports to Turkey increased 66.9 per cent
year-on-year to 3.810bn Euro in the first half, while its imports from Turkey
increased 38.1 per cent to 812m Euro, Interfax News Agency reported.
Turkey is Russia's 14th largest trading partner, accounting for over 3 per cent
of Russia's foreign trade and around 5 per cent of the so-called shuttle trade
is factored in. Russia is Turkey's second largest exporter and its eighth
State Minister, Kursad Tuzmen and Khristenko also signed on December 1st an
investment protocol at a Turkish-Russian Joint Economic Commission (KEK) meeting
in Moscow. While in the capital, Tuzmen also visited the Russian-Turkish
"We want to boost our investments in Turkey, particularly in the fields of
oil, natural gas and aluminium," Khristenko said.
Praising the Turkish companies doing business in his country, Khristenko
underlined that Russian firms want to take part in Turkey's privatisation
process. For his part, Tuzmen noted that a Turkish Commerce and Investment Zone
is soon to be established on Russian soil.
TeliaSonera plans to buy Turkcell stake
Finland's Sonera Holding, owned by the Swedish-Finnish telecoms firm TeliaSonera
which already has a 37% stake in leading mobile operator Turkcell, has decided
to buy another stake in Turkcell, which would make it a majority shareholder, a
recent statement said, cited by Anatolia news agency. TeliaSonera also planned
to purchase 13.1% stake held by Turkish bank Yapi Kredi. However, in a statement
to Istanbul Stock Exchange, Sonera said that no deal has been finalised yet.
Earlier, TeliaSonera said it was ready to purchase Yapi Kredi's stake. "Sonera
Holding, as one of Turkcell's main shareholders, closely watches every potential
to buy or sell Turkcell shares that may emerge," Sonera said in the
Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey sign rail construction declaration
Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey signed a joint statement on the construction of a
Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi railway at the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The statement was signed by Georgian Economic Development Minister, Aleksi
Aleksishvili, Minister of Transportation of Turkey, Binali Yildirim, and Deputy
Minister of Transport of Azerbaijan, Musa Panahov, Kavkasia-Press News Agency
Aleksi Aleksishvili said at a news briefing after the signing ceremony that a
foundation had been laid for the implementation of a historic project of the
century. "We have agreed that the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi railway project
will be implemented at an increased pace. A working group will be set up to work
on specific details of the project," he said.
Aleksishvili also said that the estimated cost of the project was US$350m, of
which US$200m will have to be spent on the construction of a railway link
between Kars [Turkey] and Akhalkalaki [Georgia] and US$150m on restoring the
Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi section. All three parties will finance the project.
"The Turkish side will start working on the project for the
Kars-Akhalkalaki section in 2005. Thanks to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil
pipeline, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey have acquired extensive and important
experience in the implementation of joint projects," said Aleksishvili.
Binali Yildirim said that modern roads would be built alongside the
Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi railway, providing a direct link with Europe.