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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: 120 - (30/05/07)

Erdogan decides to seek early elections
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said his Islamist-rooted government would seek early national elections on either June 24 or July 1 to settle a standoff with the country's secular elite.

"The dates for early polls are viable. The government consulted with the high election council," Erdogan told a televised news conference.

Erdogan's decision set the stage for a test of wills at the polls with the secularists, including the army that had threatened to intervene in the standoff over a presidential vote and sees itself as the guarantor of the secular system. Erdogan yesterday called for snap elections and condemned a court ruling that annulled a disputed presidential vote as a "bullet fired at democracy".

His Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) submitted a proposal for early legislative elections on June 24, about four months ahead of schedule, as a way out of a crisis that has led to a tense standoff between the government and the staunchly secularist military.

"We respect the decision of the Constitutional Court, (but) it will be much debated from the legal point of view," Erdogan said in parliament.

The current turmoil erupted after the prospect of an AKP president sparked a vocal secularist campaign against the party.

Opponents charge that the AKP, the moderate offshoot of a now-banned Islamist movement, is not truly committed to Turkey's fiercely guarded secular system and is eroding the separation of state and religion.

Tensions climaxed on April 27 when the military, responsible for four past interventions, accused the government of tolerating rising Islamist activity and threatened to take action. The statement came hours after a vote in parliament ballot - boycotted by the opposition - that left Gul 10 short of the required two-thirds majority to succeed outgoing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, a hardline secularist.

More than 1mn pro-secular Turks demonstrated in Istanbul at the weekend against an AKP president, after a similar mass rally two weeks earlier in Ankara.

Erdogan, who has led Turkey since March 2003, insisted that his party was committed to secularism. He also urged respect for differences - an apparent reference to objections raised over Gul's wife wearing the Islamic headscarf, seen by secularists as a symbol of political Islam. "The essential problem is to manage to stay united, preserving our differences," he said. "Rights and freedoms are necessary for everybody."

Pointing to the most popular slogan at the anti-AKP protests, he said: "They say 'Turkey is secular, it will remain secular'. We do not say anything different - yes, Turkey is secular, it will remain secular."

Turkey's financial markets recorded their biggest falls in a year on Monday and the currency lost more ground yesterday, as concern grew about possible instability after an anti-government rally of up to one million on April 29 and the army's threat.

Turkey tense as military
Turkey's military has been told to stay out of politics by the European Union - after its commander said it was watching presidential elections with concern. Protestors in the capital Ankara condemned the statement of the army chief who said he will act to defend Turkey's secular state.

The row centres upon an inconclusive first round as foreign minister Abdullah Gul fell short of achieving enough votes. Opposition parties are calling for the Constitutional Court to annul this election as less than two-thirds of the parliament were present.

General Yasar Buyukanit issued a strongly worded statement on Friday - indicating the army was willing to become more involved in the election process. Reaction in Turkey has been widely critical of the army's threat. Turkish Cabinet spokesman Cemcil Cicek said, "It is unthinkable for the military, which is attached to the prime minister, to make any statement against the government on any issue, in a democratic state." However, the army's sentiment is supported by many in Turkey. Protestors in Istanbul demonstrated against the nomination of Islamist Gul. They wish to see a secular President elected.

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FOREIGN AGREEMENT

Iran signs an agreement on new cultural ties 


Ahmet Ari, the director of the Libraries and Publications Department of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Habibollah Azimi, the deputy director of Iran's National Library and Archives, signed an agreement on cultural cooperation in Tehran, New Europe reported.
The two sides agreed to share books and periodicals, to organize scholarly exchanges, workshops, seminars, and tours, to conduct joint research, and to restore books. Ash-ari pointed to the longstanding and deep cultural relationship between the two countries and stated that many of the scholars of the region have come from Iran and Turkey. He thanked the Turkish ambassador in Tehran, who has paid several visits to the library, and expressed hope that the agreement would help expand cooperation between the two states. Ari also noted that the relationship between the countries goes back centuries. Figures like Sadi, Khayyam, Nezami and Rumi are respected by both Iranians and Turks and two countries with so many affinities should cooperate in all fields, he added. He went on to say that Iran and Turkey are currently exchanging data on manuscripts but will not need to do this in the future since Turkish experts have begun posting copies of the manuscripts on the internet and the task will soon be completed. 

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FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Europeans to invest 10bn in southeast project 

A European delegation led by Italians plans to invest 10 billion Euro in Turkey's biggest public investment project, Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) which is initiated to develop Turkey's poor Southeast, TurkishPress.com reported. 
The fund would be utilised in the construction of a technology park in the region. Acikgoz noted that the investment will not cover only one district but will cover the entire GAP region. The site will host food processing plants. 
GAP Deputy Regional Director Mehmet Acikgoz said the European investors recently visited the region to supervise the project on site. "They completed examination studies as preliminary work for feasibility reports and will declare their final decision in a few days," he said. The local managers and GAP officials showed the European delegate an investment site in Kilis, the most developed city in the south-eastern province of Gaziantep.
Acikgoz stated that if the European delegation affirms its decision to spend on GAP project then GAP would have an industry as large as Gaziantep's current established industry. "A second Kilis will be added," he said. It was reported that the European delegation will consider all the costs and benefits of their projected investment and prepare a schedule.
The food processing units that may be constructed in the region will contribute heavily to the local export market. In addition to those units, the site will also include education facilities, fair areas and hospitals. Acikgoz added that government development agencies, working in cooperation with the prime ministry, are directing foreign investors to the GAP region.
He mentioned the recent investment wave in the GAP region, "Preserved food producer Tat has plans to construct a factory. Saudis have investment plans in Diyarbakir, especially in tomato cultivation, marble extraction and cement production. We hope this intensive interest will result in investments." Acikgoz believes that public financing alone would be unable to finish the project.

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