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TURKEY


 

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
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)

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Update No: 116 - (25/01/07)

The Armenian-Turkish imbroglio
Turkey has a very special relationship with Armenia. The genocide of the Armenians in 1915 by the Turks, in which more than 1.5m died, is still a very live issue, since the Turks deny it ever happened. It took pace at the moment that it had become clear that the First World War had got quite out of hand. 
Hitler said in 1938; "Who now remembers the genocide of the Armenians?" with a genocide or two on his mind to come no doubt, indeed another world war that got even more out of hand. Well, the answer today is everybody - except the Turks. 
Actually, this is not true of all of them, not the 60,000 Turks of Armenian extraction for starters.
Turkey is a country prone to violence, not of course unusual in the Middle East. It has had a running war with the PKK, the militant Kurdish party, responsible for terrorist outrages, such as the slaying of 27 at the British Consulate in Istanbul, two years ago, including the consul himself, Roger Short. 
It looks as if they might have struck again, although there are several terrorist groups in the country, with loose ties with each other. It is more probably a far-rightist group responsible, deeply anti-Armenian, which the Kurds are not.

Editor Of Turkey's Armenian Newspaper, Assassinated
Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish newspaper editor was killed outside his office on January 19th. Dink, aged 53, was the editor of Turkey's only Armenian language newspaper. 
He had served as editor-in-chief and columnist of the Agos from 1996 until his death from a gunshot wound to the head. Dink was born in Western Armenia and immigrated, at age 7, with his family to Turkey. 
Dink was convicted of insulting the Turkish state last year over comments he made about the mass deaths during World War I of ethnic Armenians in what is now Turkey. Dink received a six-month suspended sentence. 
Many Armenians and foreign historians view the WWI deaths as Turkish genocide but the Turkish government denies the events took place.
Dink was leaving his office in the early afternoon when he was shot three times. A youth has been arrested and is being detained for the crime.
Both the New York Times and Bloomberg News reported that Dink had received numerous threats against his life.

Erdogan: No Bloody Provocation Will Prevent Turkey From Advancing On Its Path Towards Freedom And Prosperity
Official condemnation was immediate and condign. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Bloomberg news that he condemned the murder as an attack against the "Turkish nation's togetherness and peace and Turkey's stability.'' Turkish stocks fell after the killing, Bloomberg reported. 
Everyone is very sensitive to the terrorist threat, with the violence raging in Iraq.
Erdogan said that everyone was shocked by the assassination. "A bullet was fired to free thought and our democratic life with the bloody attack against Dink. Two ministers and all security units are continuing their investigation," Erdogan noted. "I believe that our nation will give the best response to this traitorous homicide in unity," he stressed. 
"No bloody provocation will prevent Turkey from advancing on its path towards freedom and prosperity," Erdogan said on January 19th. Erdogan was attending a ceremony to decorate Guenter Verheugen, Vice President of the European Commission, with Turkish Industrialists' & Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) Foreign Policy Award in Ankara. There has been a massive and positive reaction from Turkey's intellectual and political classes to this outrage.
At the funeral on January 23rd 50,000 turned out, with as many Turks as Armenians. His death could spark the beginning of a reconciliation between the two communities; that was the message of many mourners. 

Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan to hold more talks on sharing of gas
Meanwhile life goes on. In the middle of winter nothing is more significant than energy. 
Energy supplies from Azerbaijan's Caspian fields are playing an increasingly important role in the region, as Russia raises natural gas prices. Turkey wishes to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian 'Blue Stream' gas across the Black Sea. The Caspian Sea beckons.
It has generously acknowledged that Georgia's need is greater than its own right now.
Energy ministers from Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan will hold more talks in Istanbul to discuss the sharing of gas from the giant Shah Deniz field off Azerbaijan's Caspian coast, the Turkish minister said on Boxing Day. They are still doing so.
Georgia's energy minister said that Turkey had agreed to give up some of its share from the giant Caspian gas field to Georgia, allowing the small Caucasus nation to reduce its dependence on expensive Russian gas. Nika Gilauri said Turkey had agreed to transfer to Georgia 800 million cubic meters of the Shah Deniz natural gas it was entitled to. 
But Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said Azerbaijan - which owns the gas - as well as the companies involves, had a say on the issue of the transfer of the gas. All three countries' energy ministers would therefore meet in Istanbul to discuss the issue, he told reporters. "It was announced that Georgia needed 800 million cubic meters. We made a political decision and pronounced this figure," Guler said. "However, such a deal ... requires separate company-to-company agreements as well as government-to-government agreements and therefore all three countries involved must reach an agreement." 
Georgia has faced a doubling of the price it pays for Russian natural gas and is seeking alternative sources of supply. 
Turkey has been in talks on reallocating quotas from Shah Deniz with both Georgia and Azerbaijan, former Soviet republics, which are eager to avoid importing expensive Russian gas.

Elections will not be a risk for the country's economy
There will be elections, both general and presidential, in Turkey this year. The outlook for them is reasonable, a close observer says, with the government having achievements to its credit and a good chance of re-election.
Muhammed Rasid, a former top-level executive of one of the leading companies of the world, Unilever, based in Turkey, is returning to his home country, Egypt, to become the Minister of Industry. Rasid has given an informed outsider's view in answer to SABAH reporter's questions about the possible economic scenarios during 2007 general elections in Turkey.
Rasid said: "The Turkish economy has shown a great growth during the last couple of years. Economic indicators look successful. Once there was hyperinflation and very few foreign investors. Today, the inflation ratio is single digit and the economy is growing rapidly. As a person who knows your country well, I don't think presidential and general elections will create any risk for the economy of Turkey."

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EU Commissioner was in Ankara at a sensitive time, as we have seen, the very day of Dink's assassination. Here is a more positive scenario:-

Verheugen:Turkey can rely on European assistance in its own reform process"
Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Enterprise and Industry said on the occasion of the award of the Bosphorus Prize for European Understanding
Ankara, 19th January 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen,
My first visit to Ankara was only in 1999. I came along together with J. Solana, late at night, in a plane from Helsinki to inform the Turkish government that the European Council has decided to accept Turkey as a full-fledged candidate country to the EU, on equal footing with 12 other European countries striving for EU membership. We flew back to Helsinki to inform the 15 heads of States and governments about the positive response of Turkey and this was the start of an historical process. 
Now, almost 7 years later, the EU and Turkey are already negotiating because Turkey, the Turkish nation has undergone decisive changes and already substantially changed compared to 1999 or even 2002 and in doing so the prospects of Turkish people have improved. 
Some analysts call it a velvet revolution what has happened in Turkey within only a couple of years. To be fair - the credit for such a velvet revolution goes to Turkey itself - to its far-sighted political leadership, to the business community, including TUSIAD, to all people working courageously for a full fledged democracy, where human rights are respected and minority rights are guaranteed. It was not the EU, not the Commission, not me who can claim responsibility for that. What we could claim for ourselves is that we have offered helping hands for the ongoing reform process in Turkey: through partnership, through fair play and by placing trust in the Turkish nation's capability to change its future to the better, being convinced that Turkey as a European country shares the lessons of European history.

What are these lessons?
Some 60 years ago, a large part of the European continent has been wounded by the greatest tragedy of mankind so far - the Second World War -a consequence of German fascism. The political project of European integration started in the middle of destruction, with the bitter heritage of millions of deaths, millions of deported people, the near loss of the European Jewish community, in an environment of hate and guilt and not to forget that new dividing lines between East and West were looming on the horizon. In these bitter days, when European integration started to give the Western part of Europe a stable future, it was beyond any doubt that Turkey belonged to the free part of Europe, when it joined the Council of Europe in 1949.
Soon in March 2007, we will celebrate 50 years of the Treaty of Rome, which paved the way for peace, stability and equal chances, between meanwhile 27 European nations, which are bound together by the same values, the same rights, the same duties, the same political goals. 
Indeed European integration has already profoundly changed the face of a large part of the European continent for better, since the break down of the Iron curtain will now help to heal the wounds of the European division. However the European mission, enshrined in the Treaties, to overcome the divisions of Europe has not yet been completed - the doors of the European Union are not artificially closed. On the contrary - the doors have been kept open, for the countries of the Western Balkans as well as for Turkey, however with a clear and non negotiable condition. Who ever wishes to cross the doorstep of the EU must fully subscribe to the main lesson of European history - that lasting peace, stability and welfare need democracy, the rule of law, the full respect of human rights, the protection of minorities and a commitment to good neighbourly relations. This is at the heart what we are expecting from Turkey- this is what the European Union has committed to support when it comes to its relationship to Turkey.
I wish to wholeheartedly restate the case for Turkish membership of the European Union. We are not contemplating an act of charity or doing Turkey some kind of favour. This historical project is in our mutual interest because it responds to today's and tomorrow's pressing challenges. In the world of the 21st century, the EU needs Turkey as an anchor and even exporter of stability and democracy in the most unstable and troubled regions of the world, where there is so much at stake at this juncture.
The press and television remind us everyday of our common foreign policy challenges: whether on Iran, Iraq, Middle East, the energy crisis or the overall dialogue with the Muslim world, Turkey can play a special role and enhance the capacity of the European Union to contribute to stabilising the region. Turkish diplomacy is very active in the Middle East while Turkish armed forces work side by side with EU Member States armed forces in Lebanon, Afghanistan and the Balkans.
Economic interdependence is another key force driving EU-Turkey relations. The EU is by far Turkey's main trading partner and Turkey on the other hand ranks seventh in the list of the EU's trading partners. EU investments in Turkey also grew significantly over the years. At present, there are more than 7500 companies established in Turkey with EU capital. This month we are talking of additional investment in Turkey of more than 1.1 billion Euro by Vodafone and Renault. We are clearly coming to a situation where, clearly, tens of thousands of jobs in the EU depend on economic growth in Turkey, while job creation in Turkey depends also on the fast growing interdependence with the EU economy.
Energy is another key area in which our cooperation with Turkey is set to grow in the coming years. Turkey is turning into a major energy hub for provisions to Europe from Central Asia, the Middle East and even Northern Africa. The completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline this year was a major step towards increasing security of the supply and mobilizing of the Caspian oil reserves. 
Last but not least, Turkey is an essential partner for the EU in dealing with drugs and human trafficking, organized crime and illegal migration. 
Europe is our common destiny. Kemal Atatürk saw in Europe Turkey's future, the key to modernity, influence and prosperity. This strategic vision has not changed since then.
First and foremost membership of the EU means higher democratic standards and human rights for all Turks. Turkey has made impressive progress on this front in recent years. However we need to continue to work together on issues such as freedom of expression, women's rights, trade union rights, cultural rights and civilian control of the military. EU Membership also means more welfare and prosperity and means joining forces to address global threats and challenges.
For all these reasons, I could not agree more with Foreign Minister Gül when he says that reforms in Turkey are made by Turks for Turkey's sake.
Turkey can rely on European assistance in its own reform process. We are offering significant financial support. For example last year, pre-accession programmes funded by the Commission and managed by the Turkish authorities passed the threshold of € 500 million per year in non reimbursable grants while the loan approvals by the European Investment Bank have passed the 2 billion Euro mark. 
The EU-funded programmes in Turkey are relevant for all sectors: infrastructure, environment, legislative and economic reform, business development, education, health, reform of the judiciary, civil society, culture. During last 6 years EU support was quadrupling. And what is more further significant increases are planned for the years to come. We are offering human support and advice. It is also not by chance that the biggest single-country Delegation of the European Commission in the world is in Ankara. 
We are ready to listen, we are ready to cooperate and to work towards a better understanding between the EU and Turkey We need to focus on our overall relationship, over and above the specific issues and the temporary problems that occupy the headlines of the media. It is crucial that the impressive vigour and vitality of our ongoing relationship be fully recognised. Interesting opportunities exist in the cultural field for example, an essential ingredient in the process towards better mutual understanding: take for example the rendezvous of Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture, an event which should be seen as a great opportunity to represent Turkey in all its rich diversity. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I will however also not shy away from addressing tonight the recent difficulties in our relations, which reached their climax last December when the EU Council decided on how to continue accession negotiations with Turkey. I don't intend to launch yet another controversy on the reasons which led to this decision. I am aware of the disagreement on the conditions for the implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement, especially regarding the access to Turkish ports and airports of vessels and planes from the Republic of Cyprus. I am also aware of the frustration this decision triggered here in Turkey.
However, the decision of the EU of 11 December keeps the doors open and allows progress in the negotiations. 

In fact already before the end of last year the EU signalled its intention to open the "Enterprise and Industrial Policy" chapter and now we look forward to receiving Turkey's negotiating position.
I wish to flag that the Council also called for resumption without delay of EU efforts aiming to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community, in particular the draft regulation which, if adopted, would allow for direct trade between the Turkish Cypriots and the rest of the EU. 
Through a statement by the Finnish Presidency, the EU also emphasised the urgent need for progress towards a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus issue under UN auspices, which becomes urgent indeed.
It is in the EU's interest to see a reunification of the island and the end of the over 40 years-old conflict on European soil. Such division is unacceptable within our European Union, which is founded on the principles of peace, reconciliation and human rights. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have, I believe, set out a series of arguments for Turkish membership of the European Union which are grounded in today's reality and which will stand the test of time. Moreover I have shown how the process, for all its complexities, is moving forward, often with impressive results. 
It is however also a matter of fact that wrong perceptions about the reality in Turkey create public fears in a number of European societies. That cannot be neglected. But fear does not take away our responsibilities. Political leadership means that we all have to stand up and fight for our European vision. Leadership is not based on opinion polls. It is based on clear views, strong convictions, character and courage. Political leaders in Europe must explain, again and again, that Turkey is the real test case for a fundamental question: will Europe ever be able to play a role as a global actor, to accept global responsibility and to contribute to the creation of a peaceful world, sustainable development, social justice and decent living conditions for people where ever they live. Only a strong European Union that joins its forces and speaks with one voice can make such a contribution. If we Europeans don't do it, others will do it, and we will have to accept what they decide.
Turkey's membership will make the European Union a truly global actor and that may be another reason why some people are hesitant. Let us not allow them to dodge the realities of the 21st century. As a strong and united Europe we can meet the challenges of our century. As a group of nations driven by fear and complacency we cannot.
Turkey will make Europe stronger. The membership of Turkey in the EU would demonstrate that a country with a Muslim population can fully share our European values and objectives. I do not believe in the inevitability of a clash of civilisations. I was very encouraged by the recent visit of Pope Benedict in Turkey and the way how he identified the European vocation of Turkey.
We should always tell people, particularly those who have still questions and doubts what the result of the accession process of Turkey will be. A Turkey that eventually joins the European Union will not be the same country that it was before the process started. It will be a country with a full-fledged democracy where the rule of law and human rights are fully respected and where minorities will be protected and will have equal opportunities. The European Union as well as Turkey would make a serious mistake if we would let such an opportunity slip away.
We should also be frank and highlight that an eventual membership of Turkey in the EU will definitely change the EU as all previous accessions have contributed to the development of the EU. It is our responsibility as policy makers to demonstrate in the negotiations that Turkey will be not a threat but an awaited and welcome asset.
To that end we need to unite our forces, more then ever, and to involve the broader society. I think in particular of business people, of academics, the media, people of culture, the civil society, who can bring different, wider perspectives to the debate on Turkey's accession to the EU and help changing wrong perceptions.
In conclusion, despite the current, difficult circumstances, allow me to express my strong belief in our common endeavour. Is there another choice than European today's world? My clear answer is 'no'. 
In this context, I would like to welcome the renewed commitment of the Turkish government to continue with determination on the reform track. Reforms are not needed to "please the EU or some so-called Brussels bureaucrats", as one can read in some misleading comments. Yes, they are key for meeting the accession criteria. But the objectives of the criteria coincide with the objectives of these reforms, that is first and foremost to increase the living standards of the Turkish citizens, reinforce human rights and governance and create a more competitive and economically strong Turkey. 
The case for Turkey's EU accession is and remains strong, even more today. The accession process with Turkey will call for other difficult moments and difficult decisions. At each of these moments, I trust that Turkey and the European Union will keep in mind the key strategic vision which is the basis of this project that is peace, security, democracy and prosperity in Europe. 
I am more than grateful to be honoured today and I wish to share this prize with all people in Turkey who share the European values and goals. Tolerance is a key for Europe, for its presence, for its future. 
It was not accidentally that the first theatre play after the Second World War at the Deutsche Theatre in Berlin was "Nathan der Weise" of Lessing. Why - because it is a centrepiece of the European Enlightenment- a call for tolerance. In the famous parable of the rings Nathan compares the 3 world religions and refuses any ranking but spoke in favour of tolerance and relied on the individual contribution of all 3 world religions in order to give this world a more human face. 
I believe the ultimate accession of Turkey to the European Union will strengthen tolerance in Europe and world wide and will be understood as a strong signal that Europe is mastering its diversity and turns it into opportunities to the benefit of mankind...

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A journalist's perilous mission
Stephen Kinzer IHT, January 22nd 2007
The last time I met Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist who was murdered in Istanbul on Friday, I felt a sudden need to do more than just exchange pleasantries. This was several months ago, and we were sampling one of Turkey's great delights, dinner aboard a boat cruising the Bosporus. Life for Dink, however, had become less than delightful. He was being fiercely denounced by the ultranationalist press, and seemed subdued and preoccupied.
I pulled him aside and told him how important his work was, how much support he had in Turkey and beyond, and what a journalistic hero he had become. "I understand," he replied simply. "I do not stop."
Dink was in the forefront of a growing number of Turks who want their government to admit that leaders of the crumbling Ottoman Empire directed a mass slaughter of Armenians in 1915. These are the same Turks who want their country to break away from its authoritarian past and complete its march toward full democracy.
Some Turkish nationalists, however, feel deeply threatened by their country's progress toward modernity. During the 1980s, they gunned down Turkey's leading journalists. In the 1990s they concentrated their fire on Kurdish nationalists, hundreds of whom were killed by death squads that acted with absolute impunity.
In recent years, many Turks had allowed themselves to believe those bad days were over. But with an election campaign approaching, nationalist rhetoric is again surfacing in political speeches and militant newspapers. Much of it contains ugly insinuations that Armenians, Kurds and members of other minority groups threaten Turkey's national unity and its very survival.
Rare is the government official or military officer who condemns this rhetoric. Some not only encourage it but protect accused killers from prosecution. That has emboldened radicals and led them to believe that the state tacitly supports them.
By their silence, and by failing to condemn attacks like a bombing evidently staged by army officers in the Kurdish town of Semdinli 14 months ago, Turkish political leaders and military commanders helped set the stage for Dink's murder. In his weekly newspaper, Agos, which was published in both Turkish and Armenian, Dink wrote as he pleased, refusing to observe unwritten taboos that shackle the Turkish press. He was charged several times with the Orwellian crime of "insulting Turkishness." On one occasion he was convicted, although his six-month sentence was suspended. Each time he appeared in court, a crowd of ultranationalists staged a violent scene, showering him with abuse and trying to assault him.
This was the same gang that screamed insults at the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk when he was brought to trial last year. Dink attended Pamuk's trial in a show of solidarity, driving the militants to new heights of fury.
Turkish nationalists believed they won a great victory when, at the end of last year, the European Union suspended talks aimed at making Turkey an EU member. They still hope to turn back the democratic tide that is engulfing their country. Some apparently believe that if they cannot do it by indicting free thinkers, they can do it through murder. This attack has generated revulsion across Turkey. It will undoubtedly galvanize the country's large and increasingly bold corps of human rights advocates.
Their first step may be to intensify their campaign for repeal of the notorious Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which places a series of restrictions on free press. To achieve that, and to finish reshaping Turkey's political system, will not be easy. Turkey is being torn by an epochal crisis of identity. The old and oppressive political tradition is dying, but its death throes are becoming disturbingly violent.
Political leaders, and their colleagues in uniform, seem to believe they can tolerate and even make use of ultranationalist ideologues. Dink's murder shows how dangerous that course is.
The arrest of a suspect in the murder will not calm outraged Turks. Their anger is directed not simply against the man who pulled the trigger, but also against those who created the venomous climate that made this crime possible.
Turkey's violent ultranationalist fringe, long supported by elements in the police and military, aims not only to kill journalists but also to stop the progress of Turkish history. No government has tried seriously to crush it. Dink's murder, and the wave of anger it has set off, gives Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a chance to do so.

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AVIATION

Turkish Airlines to join Star Alliance


Turkish Airlines, Turkey's largest airline, will formally join the Star Alliance, putting it in close cooperation with companies such as Lufthansa, United and Thai Airways, Turkish Daily News reported, cited by website reporter.gr on December 11th 2007.
Turkish Airlines operates a fleet of 91 planes and transported 14 million passengers in 2005. It will become the 19th member of Star Alliance, which already controls 25 per cent of the world's airline traffic.

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BILATERAL COOPERATION

Putin, Erdogan discuss Mideast, bilateral cooperation

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussed cooperation in the trade economic, political and other areas in a telephone conversation on December 9th, Interfax News Agency reported. 
At the start of the conversation, Erdogan expressed his condolences over the deadly fire at a Moscow hospital, the Kremlin press service said. "Satisfaction with the active dynamism of Russian-Turkish relations was expressed. A substantial exchange of opinions took place on relevant international issues, primarily the situation in the Middle East region. Both sides confirmed that they have similar views on and approaches toward the settlement of the situation in the Middle East, which remains difficult," it said. Putin and Erdogan "emphasised the need for responsible and consolidated actions by the international community to facilitate the resolution of the region's problems and the role of foreign political coordination between Russia and Turkey in this process," it said. 

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ENERGY

Inter RAO mulls building coal power plant in Turkey

The operator of Russian electricity imports and exports, Inter RAO UES, is considering building a coal-fired power plant in the north west of Turkey with a capacity of 300 megawatts, at a cost of US$400 million, the Turkish newspaper Sabah quoted the main coordinator of TGR Enerji, the Turkish subsidiary of Inter RAO, Ibrahim Artvinli, as saying.
Inter RAO has confirmed its interest in this project. "This project is of interest to us, like all other projects in Turkey, but no concrete agreements have been reached," Boris Zverev, aide to the Inter RAO director general, said, Interfax News Agency reported.
According to the Sabah report, the Turkish authorities have already granted Inter RAO a licence to produce coal in the region. The decision to build a second station in this region will depend on the volume of production and the quality of the coal, Artvinli said. He said that Inter RAO might also apply to take part in auctions for the sale of regional grid companies in Turkey, which are expected to take place in 2007, and to receive a government contract to build a first nuclear plant in Turkey.
The Inter RAO official did not confirm the report about the nuclear plant. Unified Energy System of Russia has been waiting since 2003 for the privatisation of energy assets in Turkey to begin. UES CEO Anatoly Chubais has called the Turkish market "fantastically attractive," and Inter RAO Chairman of the Board Andrei Rappoport announced plans "to become an active player" in the privatisation of energy assets in Turkey - in both the grid and generating sectors.
UES started to prepare to take part in the privatisation of Turkish energy companies in spring 2005: the UES board of directors approved participation by Inter RAO UES in a deal to acquire at least 70 per cent of Turkish energy trader TGR Enerji. Inter RAO UES considers this company as a basis for the further development of its business in Turkey, including exports of electricity to Turkey from neighbouring countries, including transit through Georgia, participation in the privatisation of grid and generating companies and the implementation of investment projects.
The acquisition of a share in TGR Enerji, according to the conditions of the deal, should have cost Inter RAO UES about US$0.7 million. UES owns 60 per cent of Inter RAO UES and Rosenergoatom owns another 40 per cent. Foreign energy acquisitions are included on the Inter RAO UES balance sheet.

Russia boosts gas deliveries to Turkey

Russia's gas major Gazprom has boosted natural gas deliveries to Turkey. "For several days Gazprom has been delivering gas on a greater scale to Turkey - 20 million cubic metres a day in addition to the regular 63 million cubic metres," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov has said, Interfax News Agency reported.
On January 3rd Iranian Petroleum Minister, Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh, announced that Iran had suspended natural gas deliveries to Turkey for domestic reasons. Iran assured the Turkish side that deliveries may resume in the near future.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

Armenia to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey 

Turkey has received a proposal from the Armenian government on establishing diplomatic relations to pursue joint projects and open frontiers, New Europe reported.
Armenian Defence Minister, Serge Sarkisyan, according to the Wall Street Journal, said: "We intend to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey not bringing up genocide as principal condition." Saying that "we want to look at the future," The Armenian Minister hoped that Turkey's talks with European Union would open such opportunities for Yerevan. At the same time, he stressed that the remaining issue of the so-called "genocide" on the agenda is necessary from the point of view of memory of the past and prevention of such crimes against humanity.
"If Turkey opens its frontiers Armenia will be closer to Europe from a geopolitical point of view, and we don't want to be enemies with Turkey forever," Sarkisyan said.
Political observers of Turkey said that this proposal is backed by the Armenian lobby of America and Europe, and the basic proposal is that Armenians want to exploit the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Gumru railway.

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