Books on Turkey
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
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."
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.