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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: 158 - (25/07/10)

The Greek-Turkish imbroglio
There is no doubt what is the most sensitive relationship for both Ankara and Athens. It is that between their two countries. Well after the Kurdish imbroglio in the Turkish case.

The Greeks and the Turks have a lot of scope for friction between them. The number of Greek islands extending across the Aegean Sea to Turkey is legion. But then the ancient Greek world was essentially insular and naval. The Turks operated terrestrially and militarily.

In the modern world one can operate aerially. That is what both sides now do.

Aerial confrontation
Greek jets appeared in the skies over the Greek island of Lesbos in mid-July when Turkish jets were on training flights in the international air space over the Aegean Sea. The Greek jets took off from Tanagra and Skyros air bases of Greece.

Also, Greek F-16 and M-2000 jets that took off from Skyros and N. Ankhialos air bases intercepted Turkish F-16 jets in the southwest of the island of Chios.

Israeli -Turkish relations on the skids
But there is another highly troublesome relationship at the moment. The Turks have a disdainful attitude to the Middle East, populated largely by their former subjects, the Arabs. They were among the first to welcome the creation of Israel. The Israelis were seen as their natural allies.

Hence the shock of recent events. After the Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid ship in May, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “nothing would ever be the same again.” Weeks later, his ominous prediction appears to be coming true. The rift between the once close allies has never been wider.

The entire region, as well as the United States, is now anxious to see how Israel will respond to a statement by Turkey’s foreign minister that the country would sever ties unless Israel issues a formal apology, or at least accepts an international investigation. With no response from Israel so far, rumours have been rife on the streets of Istanbul and elsewhere that Turkey might soon make good on its ultimatum.

Turkey — irate over the deaths of eight Turks and one Turkish-American — has reacted strongly to the flotilla incident. Since recalling its ambassador from Jerusalem shortly after the attack, Ankara has banned Israeli military planes from its airspace, halted military exercises between the two countries and ended a 20-year agreement to supply Israel with water.

Erdogan, already infamous for his fiery rhetoric, has been true to form, calling Israel’s actions “pirate-like” and “barbarous.”
“I am sure that Israelis are disturbed by a perception equating the Star of Zion to the Nazi swastika,” he said in a speech in Konya the week following the attack, taking even those sympathetic to the Turkish position by surprise.

For its part, Israel hasn’t taken Turkey’s anger lightly. Israeli defence advisors were quickly withdrawn from Turkey following the incident and the government has warned Israelis against visiting Turkey.

Convinced that Turkey provoked the incident and wanting to avoid an international investigation, Israeli officials said, Israel has refused to apologize for the deaths.

An Israeli military investigation found this week that while there were failures in its planning, intelligence and coordination, the killings onboard the Gaza-bound flotilla were justified. A further investigation, led by a retired Israeli Supreme Court justice, is in the works but it seems unlikely that Israel — still reeling from the U.N.-led Goldstone report into human rights abuses that took place during the 2009 Gaza invasion — will agree to the full international investigation called for by Turkey.

“At the moment it’s hard to imagine a way out of this situation,” Henri Barkey, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said. “It could take years for things to be civil between the two countries again.”

The current state of Turkish-Israeli relations is now a far cry from the mid-1990s when Turkey’s military turned to Israel for help in improving its forces — leading to more than $1 billion in known deals.

Into the modern world
The Turks previously regarded the Israelis as the only other standard-bearers in the Middle East of Western values, both democratic and liberal. But the tradition of Ataturk is seen as under threat since the Islamicists, however moderate, came to power in 2002.

The latest threat to secularism comes from the government's attempt to censor access to the internet. There are about 30 million internet users in Turkey, which has a total population of 70 million.

In mid-July over 2,000 protesters marched in Turkey's largest city Istanbul against strict internet censorship in the country. The protesters were demanding that a law preventing access to over 5,000 internet sites banned in Turkey be repealed.

They chanted slogans on July 17 for removing the ban on video-sharing website YouTube and against the transportation minister, whose ministry is responsible for website bans. "Don't touch the internet, pull away your hand," the protesters shouted.

The protest was organised by the Common Platform Against Internet Censorship, a platform of over 50 non-governmental organisations. There was always dissatisfaction with internet censorship, but this was the first time people poured out into the streets, Ozgur Uckan of Bilgi University, one of the organisers of the rally, said. 


 

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