30 Aralık 2011 Cuma

Turkey Approves Russian Gas Plan


MOSCOW—Russia secured approval from Turkey on Wednesday to build the South Stream gas pipeline across the Black Sea, removing the last major obstacle to proceed with a project that could increase Europe's dependence on Russian natural-gas supplies.
The move heats up the battle between Russia and the European Union over competing pipelines, especially the European Union-backed Nabucco project, and increases pressure on Ukraine to give Moscow control of its pipeline system.
Turkey's approval, given by Energy Minister Taner Tildiz during talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday, had been a stumbling point for Russia to proceed with the offshore part of the South Stream project.
Russian state gas giant OAO Gazprom ships most of its gas exports to Europe via Ukraine, but supply disruptions in recent years due to pricing disagreements between the two countries have led Russia to seek to bypass Ukraine and promote new pipelines such as South Stream.

23 Aralık 2011 Cuma

"Substantial" Cyprus Gas Find Rumoured

 Natural Gas Europe

A "substantial" gas find has been made in Block 12 in the offshore area of Cyprus, several unsubstantiated reports have said.

The rumoured gas find relates to an area currently under licence to Noble Energy Inc in the Cypriot portion of the Mediterranean Sea. Cypriot newspaper Politis has reported that the find is equal to or larger than that found by Noble in the nearby Israeli Leviathan field, which would exceed Noble's initial estimates of 9 trillion cubic feet of gas in Block 12. The newspaper does not name its sources for the story but says that these sources are "reliable".

On Tuesday, Noble increased its estimate for the total gas reserves in the Leviathan field from 16 trillion cubic feet to at least 17 trillion cubic feet and up to 20 trillion cubic feet.

"The reservoir thickness and quality were greater than anticipated," the company said in a statement.
Separately, Israeli news organisation Globes has said that results from the Cypriot Block are imminent. Globes also cite sources who say that the block is likely to contain 8 trillion cubic feet or higher, making it larger than the Israeli Tamar field. Another Cypriot news site, Philenews, has reported that the gas reserves may total up to 13 trillion cubic feet.

Ankara sees Iran hand in Iraq tensions

Serkan Demirtaş     Hürriyet Daily News

Turkey believes Tehran is behind the Iraqi PM’s recent challenge to Vice President al-Hashimi as it hopes to protect its regional hegemony in the wake of an international campaign against its closest regional ally, Syria. 

An Iraqi political crisis stemming from the Shiite prime minister’s move against the Sunni vice president has rung alarm bells in Ankara, which believes Iran is orchestrating the events to protect its regional hegemony.

Although already deeply involved in the turmoil in Syria, Turkish diplomats have now placed Iraq at the top of their agenda out of fears that instability in its southeastern neighbor could endanger its political and security interests in the region.

A day after the last U.S. soldier was withdrawn from Iraq earlier this week, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued an arrest warrant for Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, potentially igniting a fresh conflict between the country’s two largest sectarian groups. The move caused concerns in neighboring countries and the United States about regional stability in the Middle East, which has already been shaken by developments in Syria.

1 Aralık 2011 Perşembe

Turkey says will support Azerbaijan gas transit pipeline proposal


Turkey would support a proposal for a pipeline to carry gas from the second phase of development of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas field to Europe, a spokesman for the energy ministry said Monday.

The proposed pipeline would be in competition with the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline project.

The pipeline proposal was announced Thursday in Istanbul by Rovnag Abdullyev, president of Azeri state oil and gas company Socar, as the Anatolian Transit Gas Pipeline Project. He gave no further details.

The spokesman explained that Turkey and Azerbaijan were working together to develop the proposed pipeline but that no definite decisions had been taken on where the line will start and end or on what the capacity will be.

Broadly it will run from Turkey's eastern border to its western one, and will carry 16 billion cubic meters/year of Shah Deniz gas which Azerbaijan has agreed to export to Turkey and Europe, he said. It could utilize existing sections of Turkey's main east-west transit line in addition to the newly constructed line, he added.

Turkey in the 2011 Annual Arab Public Opinion Survey

Kerim Rached   JTV

On November 21, Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, released the results of the 2011 Annual Arab Public Opinion Survey conducted in October.

A total of 3,000 people from various cities across Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates were polled regarding numerous aspects of some of the most contentious issues in the region today, including the Arab Spring, Obama administration, Arab-Israeli conflict, Egyptian elections, national and religious identity, media access, and Iran. While the results of public opinion polls or surveys cannot quite be used in any sort of conclusive statement regarding what’s to come, they do help provide a picture of social and political trends as well as perceptions in a given region, which is ultimately useful in its own right.

Turkey Increases Pressure on Syria Over Oppression

Sebnem ARSU    The New York Times

ISTANBUL — Turkish officials continued Tuesday to step up pressure on Syria, saying they would consider having their military cross the border to impose a safety zone if the Assad government failed to stop killing citizens demanding democratic change.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday that his government was hopeful that an incursion would be unnecessary and that Syria would respond to sanctions imposed Sunday by the Arab League. But the Syrian government has shown no willingness to abide by its neighbors’ demands, declaring the Arab League move “economic war.”
In a television interview broadcast on Kanal 24, a private network, Mr. Davutoglu said, “Despite all, if oppression continued, Turkey remains ready for all possible scenarios,” including creating a buffer zone. He said it would be established in coordination with the international community to offer large groups of Syrians protection from violence along borders with Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.

Eurocopter Joins Turkey's Light Helicopter Race

Umit ENGİNSOY & Burak Ege BEKDİL   Defense News

ANKARA - Top European helicopter maker Eurocopter announced Wednesday that it will seek to become Turkey's key foreign partner in a program, worth more than $1 billion, to design, develop and manufacture hundreds of light utility helicopters, both military and civilian.

"We want to partner with Turkey in one of their top programs. The light utility helicopter program is a key project," said Thomas Hein, Eurocopter's vice president for sales and customer relations in Europe.

Light utility helicopters generally weigh between 4,500 and 5,500 kilograms. "We are developing our product range, and we would like to produce, with Turkey, a chopper from scratch," Hein said.

Under two multibillion-dollar contracts, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is co-producing with Italy's AgustaWestland 59 T-129 attack helicopters and jointly is making with Sikorsky Aircraft more than 100 T-70 utility helicopters, with a single copter weighing about 10,000 kilograms. To meet its heavy-lift helicopter needs, Ankara earlier this year signed a nearly $400 million contract with Boeing to buy six CH-47 Chinook choppers.

25 Kasım 2011 Cuma

Turkey, France Find Common Ground on Syria

Dorian JONES    Voice of America

Despite strained diplomacy between France and Turkey, the two nations have found mostly common ground in supporting Syrian opposition.

A French objection to Ankara's bid to join the European Union has severely strained ties between the powers, which have been exacerbated by recent policy differences over Libya.

After meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara on Friday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said both countries agree Syrian President Bashar al Assad's government crackdown is unsustainable and that the time has come for France and Turkey to align Syrian policies.

Juppe said Paris is preparing to submit a resolution to the United Nations Security Council that would condemn Syria and possibly pave the way for increased sanctions. He also said France opposes unilateral intervention in Syria and that any such decision would have to be made by the United Nations.

EU says looks to Turkey to help stabilize Mideast

Today's Zaman

President of the European Parliament has said the European Union is looking to Turkey to help stabilize the region shaken by instability and uprising since the start of this year.
Jerzy Buzek, who is visiting Turkey this week, told Turkish deputies in Parliament on Thursday that he knows from his own experiences that a falling dictatorship is both dangerous and unpredictable, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime is threatened by eight-month uprising that claimed nearly 4,000 lives. He said across the Eastern Mediterranean, not just in Syria, there are multiple flashpoints and that the 27-nation bloc is looking to Turkey to help stabilize the region.

He said in recent months, Turkey’s leadership has stressed Turkey's support for the struggle for freedom across the North Africa and the Middle East and many in the Middle East regard Turkey as a source of inspiration of a successfully modernising society. He said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the first Muslim leader to tell Egypt's Hosni Mubarak to step down.

"Your leaders have travelled to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia to promote the adoption of a constitution that secures secularism. And, more recently, you opened your doors, and hearts, to the Syrian opposition," he said.

18 Eylül 2011 Pazar

Israel: Adrift at Sea Alone

Thomas L FRIEDMAN          The NEW york Times

I’VE never been more worried about Israel’s future. The crumbling of key pillars of Israel’s security — the peace with Egypt, the stability of Syria and the friendship of Turkey and Jordan — coupled with the most diplomatically inept and strategically incompetent government in Israel’s history have put Israel in a very dangerous situation.

This has also left the U.S. government fed up with Israel’s leadership but a hostage to its ineptitude, because the powerful pro-Israel lobby in an election season can force the administration to defend Israel at the U.N., even when it knows Israel is pursuing policies not in its own interest or America’s.
Israel is not responsible for the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt or for the uprising in Syria or for Turkey’s decision to seek regional leadership by cynically trashing Israel or for the fracturing of the Palestinian national movement between the West Bank and Gaza. What Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, is responsible for is failing to put forth a strategy to respond to all of these in a way that protects Israel’s long-term interests.

Turkey plays balancing act in projecting power in east Med

Abdullah Bozkurt    Today's Zaman

While Turkey is actively pursuing a carrot-and-stick approach in a balancing act to protect its own interests in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkish analysts are warning that Ankara should proceed diligently and cautiously in dealing with a simmering conflict in the region over drilling rights for potentially rich hydrocarbon resources in order to avoid perception problems ranging from bullying power to strong-arming its neighbors.
For some time Turkey has been at odds with the Greek Cypriots over natural gas exploration plans and threatened to respond if the Greek Cypriot administration goes ahead with drilling as announced. Israel, which signed an agreement last November demarcating its maritime borders with the Greek Cypriots, infuriated Ankara, which called the deal “null and void.” The deal invited the wrath of the Turkish government, whose outspoken prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, during a visit to Tunisia on Thursday vowed to send Turkish frigates and assault boats to the eastern Mediterranean.

Iraq eyes EU gas exports through Turkey

Kwok W. WAN      Petroleum Economist

LONDON: Iraq wants to export gas found in the blocks on offer in its fourth licensing round
to Europe by pipeline through Turkey and as liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“We are awaiting various development plans for the fields to decide whether we should start work on a gas-export project to the EU through Turkey,” Iraqi deputy oil minister Ahmed al-Shamma told reporters on the sidelines of the Iraq Mining conference on Wednesday. “That’s what we hope to achieve from the fourth round, to discover some good gas reserves to give us assurance for that project.”

Iraq has pre-qualified 46 companies to bid for the 12 blocks, with the deadline for bids in January 2012. The 46 firms include supermajors – BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell – national oil companies from China, Malaysia and India, as well as a handful of independents. US independent Hess was excluded because the firm has signed upstream deals with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, which the oil ministry regards as illegal.

The Land of Gas and Honey

Robin M MILLS*     Foreign Policy

Israel's giant new natural gas find will transform the Middle East -- and add more fuel to an already combustible region.

Mother Nature's distribution of oil and gas resources around the world suggests she has a mischievous sense of humor. In the Persian Gulf, South China Sea, and Caspian Sea, large fields lie in disputed zones between unfriendly neighbors.

Now we must add another hot spot to that list. New, giant, natural gas finds promise to transform the energy security and economy of Israel and, perhaps, its neighbors. But these treasures could hardly have been better placed to stir up trouble, complicating three of the world's most intractable conflicts: between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel and Lebanon, and Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The recent sharp deterioration in Turkish-Israeli relations makes disputes over gas even more fraught with danger.
Golda Meir, the feisty, cantankerous, and quotable fourth Israeli prime minister, used to complain that Moses led the Israelites through the desert for 40 years to bring them to the only place in the Middle East without oil. In 2000, after Britain's BG had discovered significant volumes of gas at Gaza Marine, she was proved at least half-wrong when U.S. exploration company Noble Energy found a similar-sized field, Mari-B, in Israeli waters.

15 Eylül 2011 Perşembe

Israel’s new problem with the Arab Street

David IGNATIUS    The Washington Post

The expanding confrontation between Israel and its neighbors has been described variously as a “train wreck,” a “lose-lose situation” and a “political tsunami.” It’s all those things and likely to get worse, for there’s no quick fix by Israel’s ally, the United States.

The Obama administration has been seeking diplomatic solutions to the two most incendiary issues — the demand by Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for an Israeli apology for the Gaza flotilla incident of May 2010, and the Palestinian plan to ask the United Nations to declare statehood. Despite feverish American efforts to defuse these bombs, they’re still ticking away.

Welcome to the Arab Spring, ­Arab-Israeli chapter. Commentators sometimes talked as if the Facebook revolutionaries had forgotten about the Palestinian issue. Not so: The “dignity revolution” is connecting, as in last week’s frightening riot at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, with the ever-flowing font of Arab shame and rage toward the Jewish state. Bidding for regional leadership is Erdogan, who thundered Monday, “Israel cannot play with our dignity.”

The first instinct for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, feeling beleaguered and friendless, has been to hunker down and say no. Nobody ever wants to give ground under pressure, but Netanyahu’s approach, while understandable, is a mistake. These are problems that Israel is going to have to answer more creatively.

14 Eylül 2011 Çarşamba

Brief Analysis of the Upcoming Presidential Elections in Russia March 2012

Jose Chalhoub*            Caracas Venezuela

InMarch next year, two clear candidates are to be foreseenfacing each other in the nextPresidency of Russia, which without doubts are the current President Dmitri Medvedev and the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who bothbelong to the same party Edinayya Rossiya (United Russia). 

At the moment, this party is the main political one within the russian political system and needless to say, the results will be very important for the future of Russiain specific and the world in general, energy wise. To this respect, it must be pointed out that Russia has been going through a considerable period of sustained economic growth in the last decade, mainly as a result of high oil and gas incomes and the reinforcement of the role of the government in this subject, becoming in recent years the first oil producer in the world (10 million barrels per day aprox) and gas, as well as its heavyweight position as the king of natural gas reserves in the globe. Thanks mainly to the reorganization of the energy sector since Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000.

Then, came Medvedev to Presidency being Putin's most trusted ally, and who has showed a little more flexible position towards different areaswhether in the russian internal front or his position with international politics, which has earned him a slighter support from the West (namely USA and the European Union) than what has been Putin's position in all these matters, who beyond all this, appears to be the strongest and most powerful man in Russia according to many opinion polls.  Especially by his tight control of the most strategic areas of the russian economy (oil, gas, coal, etc) through his many "siloviki" friends from old KGB.  So given this background, and taking into account that neither the Communist Party nor any other political organizationsuch as the Nationalist Party of Vladimir Zhirinovksywhich has an important weight in the Duma comparing to Medvedev and Putin's party United Russia, look to face the next term in Russia from 2012.

Turkish PM sets out on mission to become leader of Arab world

Patrick Cockburn     The Independent

Erdogan tours revolutionary countries as he looks to build power.

The Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, arrived in Egypt yesterday at the start of a three-nation tour as Turkey toughens its stance towards Israel and seeks to become the predominant power among Muslim states in the Middle East and North Africa.

After Egypt, Mr Erdogan will visit Tunisia and Libya to show Turkey's support for both countries after the overthrow of long-standing police states in the Arab Spring. Turkey's strong, democratic and mildly Islamic regime makes it a model for new governments in all three countries.

Mr Erdogan's assertive and critical attitude towards Israel, until recently a close ally of Turkey, makes him attractive to the Arab world. In Cairo, the burning down of the Israeli embassy last weekend was the latest incident marking the hostility at street level between post-Mubarak Egyptians and Israel. 

Turkey's stance on Israel will reverberate in Washington

Mohammed AYOOB    Guardian

The Middle East will never be the same. America must recognise Turkey's emergence as the region's pre-eminent power.

Turkey's expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, the downgrading of its diplomatic relations with Israel, and the Erdogan government's increasingly firm position on the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara signify more than a temporary hiccup in Turkish-Israeli relations. It is a clear signal that Ankara is fed up with Israel's foot-dragging on the apology and compensation that Turkey has demanded as a precondition for the normalisation of Turkish-Israeli relations. The UN's Palmer Commission report, which justified the Israeli blockade of Gaza but accused Israel of using "excessive force" against the flotilla, has been rejected by Turkey. Ankara now plans to take the case against the blockade to the international court of justice (ICJ).

Turkey's PM rallies Arab world in Cairo with call for UN to recognise Palestine

Jach Shenker      Guardian

Analysts believe Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Egypt visit is designed to strengthen Turkey's influence in the region and isolate Israel.

Turkey's prime minister has called for the Palestinian flag to finally be raised at the United Nations, insisting that international recognition of the state was now an obligation, not an option.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan used a much-anticipated speech to the Arab League in Cairo to rally opposition to Israel, and promised that Turkey would stand in solidarity with those struggling for political change in the Arab world.

"Freedom and democracy and human rights must be a united slogan for the future of our people," Erdogan told an audience of Arab foreign ministers and millions more watching on television across the region. "The legitimate demands of the people cannot be repressed with force and in blood."

Erdogan slams Israel on start of Arab tour

Al Jazeera

Turkish leader condemns Israeli policies in his opening address to a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, has told Arab foreign ministers that Israel has isolated itself and must "pay the price" after refusing to apologize for its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last year.

In his opening address to a meeting of Arab League in Cairo on Tuesday, Erdogan also condemned Israeli policies and said that the recognition of a Palestinian state was "not an option but an obligation".

Erdogan spoke as part of a three-day visit to Egypt aimed at boosting his government's standing in the Arab world after the uprisings of the "Arab Spring".

Many in the Arab world have cheered Erdogan's tough stance on Israel. Turkey suspended military ties with Israel, expelled top Israeli diplomats, pledged to support the Palestinians' statehood bid and vowed to send the Turkish navy to escort Gaza-bound aid ships in the future.

Erdogan told the ministers, Israel "must pay the price for the crimes it committed".

Caspian Pipeline Plan: Russia Slams European Union Support Of Natural Gas Project

The Huffington Post

MOSCOW -- Russia lashed out Tuesday at an offer by the European Union to broker talks between energy-rich former Soviet nations Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan aimed at creating a natural gas pipeline that would carry Turkmen fuel to the West.

Moscow's testy outburst over EU lobbying for construction of a trans-Caspian pipeline highlights Russian sensitivities over prospects that its grip on the supply of gas to Europe could be loosened.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that only the five countries bordering on the Caspian had the right to settle issues regarding use of the inland body of water.

Europe is eager to diversify its gas purchases away from Russia, whose recurrent disputes with transit nation Ukraine have led to periodic cutoffs.

Western Europe relies on Russia for a quarter of its gas needs. Some 80 percent of the gas bound for Western Europe is carried through Ukrainian pipeline. A pricing dispute between Ukraine and Russia in 2009 left Europe without a key source of gas and the union is keen to diversify its supply.

Turkey seeks EU help to avert Cyprus gas crisis


Turkey's ambassador to the EU has said member states should urge Cyprus to "see reason" in order to stop a dispute over gas exploration from getting worse.

"Europe, which has a stake in this, should say to the Greek Cypriot authorities that it is inadvisable to raise the stakes, because they are raising the stakes. We are not the ones who sarted exploration in disputed waters ... the EU can tell the Greek Cypriots they have to be reasonable," Selim Kuneralp told EUobserver in an interview on Monday (12 September).

"These are resoures that belong to both communities on the island ... and until such time as this has happened [an agreement on how to share them] we feel it is highly inappropriate for exploration to begin."

Cyprus has hired US company Noble to start drilling later this month at a 6,000-square-kilometre field called Block 12, situated under the Mediterranean Sea to the south of the island.

Cyprus has been split in two since 1974 with the Turkish military still present on the island in support of the largely unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Asked by EUobserver if Turkey would use warships to stop Noble from going ahead if necessary, Kuneralp said: "I hope it will not come to that and the Greek Cypriots will see reason ... I didn't mention warships. I think it's better to hope that reason will prevail."

Erdogan in Cairo: Israel is undermining its own legitimacy


Oren KESSLER     The Jerusalem Post 

Receiving hero’s welcome, Turkish PM tells Arab League representatives that int'l recognition of Palestinian state “not an option but an obligation.”

Israel’s actions are undermining its own legitimacy, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Arab League representatives in Cairo on Tuesday, adding that international recognition of a Palestinian state is “not an option but an obligation.”

“While Israel is trying to secure its legitimacy in our region on one hand, it is taking irresponsible steps that unsettle its legitimacy on the other,” Erdogan told Arab foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital, his first stop on a Middle East tour intended to bolster Turkey’s role as a rising regional power player.

The Turkish premier received a hero’s welcome in Cairo, with hundreds of raucous Egyptians chanting his name outside the Arab League headquarters.

“Erdogan has turned into an Arab hero,” said a Syrian protester standing outside the Arab League building.

Premier of Turkey Takes Role in Region

David D. KIRKPATRICK     The New York Times

CAIRO — Seeking to capitalize on Turkey’s growing stature and influence across the Arab world at a time of regional upheaval, its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, appeared on Egyptian television late Monday once again calling Israel “the West’s spoiled child.”

Mr. Erdogan’s appearance kicked off a so-called Arab Spring tour, with plans to also visit Libya and Tunisia in addition to Cairo. He is seeking to enhance his regional celebrity and bolster Turkey’s standing as a potential role model for Arab states fitfully inching toward democracy. His visit comes at a moment when the revolutions of the Arab Spring have thrown into question much of the established order that has prevailed in the region for the last 30 years, including the terms of Israel’s uneasy peace with its neighbors, in particular, Egypt.

Once a close ally of Israel, Turkey accelerated its growing stature across the Arab world — and further upended the regional order — when it downgraded diplomatic relations with Israel and expelled its ambassador early this month after Israel refused to issue an apology for a deadly commando raid last year aboard an aid ship trying to break the embargo of the Gaza Strip. But even before the recent flare-up with Israel, Mr. Erdogan was already lionized across the region for his commitment to Islamist politics, pluralistic constitutional democracy and energetic economic development. In Egypt, aspiring Islamist politicians often try to sell themselves as “the Egyptian Erdogan.”

Turkey plays high-stakes game positioning itself at heart of Arab world

Ian BLACK     Guardian

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been lauded in Cairo for his bold stance against Israel – but just how far will he go?

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's speeches in Cairo were excellent platforms for Turkey's campaign to become a bigger player in the Middle East – against a backdrop of the momentous changes of the Arab spring and a rare sense of movement in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Rousing cheers in Egypt reflect Ankara's strong stand against Israel, rupturing decades of close alliance in favour of an openly critical position since last year's bitter row over the Gaza aid flotilla killings.

Turkey's quest for a robust regional role has emerged in recent years, along with a sense of disappointment – if not surprise – that its long-standing ambitions to join the EU have in effect been blocked by France and Germany, despite remaining formally on the table.

Cyprus defies Turks on gas plan


Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias said Tuesday that his country’s plans for gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean were its sovereign right and would not be derailed by Turkish threats.

Responding to a series of statements from officials in Ankara, warning of a Turkish naval response if Nicosia proceeds with its exploration plans, Christofias said, “In the event of Turkey committing an unlawful act -- something which we hope will not happen -- we expect a strong and effective response from the international community.”

Christofias also lashed out at Turkey for its increasingly aggressive stance vis-a-vis Israel, with which Cyprus is cooperating ahead of the exploration as Cyprus’s undersea hydrocarbon reserves border on Israel’s huge offshore gas field, known as Leviathan. “In addition to questioning the sovereign rights of the Cyprus Republic, Turkey is also threatening our country and its associates,” Christofias said. “It is causing tension in the region, sending the message that it acts like a troublemaker and violates international norms.”

13 Eylül 2011 Salı

'Culturomics' Predicted The Arab Revolutions—And Now It Predicts Global Unrest

Through a computerized analysis of news reports, researchers claim they can forecast major human events (via @_alea).

The online peer reviewed journal First Monday reports that by analyzing 30-years worth of news "culturomics" could have predicted the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; the stability of Saudi Arabia through May 2011; and the location of Osama bin Laden's bunker to a 200-kilometer radius in north Pakistan.

For instance, here's how culturnomics predicted Egyptian unrest:

On 25 January 2011, popular dissent with the Egyptian state culminated in mass protests that continued through President Mubarak’s resignation on 11 February. Figure 2 shows the average tone by month from January 1979 to March 2011 of all 52,438 articles captured by SWB mentioning an Egyptian city anywhere in the article. Only articles explicitly mentioning an Egyptian city were included to filter out casual references to Egypt to return only articles reporting on the country in more detail. To normalize the data, the Y axis reports the number of standard deviations from the mean, with higher numbers indicating greater positivity and lower numbers indicating greater negativity. January 2011 reports only the tone for 1 January through 24 January, capturing the period immediately preceding the protests. Only twice in the last 30 years has the global tone about Egypt dropped more than three standard deviations below average: January 1991 (the U.S. aerial bombardment of Iraqi troops in Kuwait) and 1–24 January 2011, ahead of the mass uprising. The only other period of sharp negative moment was March 2003, the launch of the U.S. invasion of neighboring Iraq.

Looking at the world, the study concluded that "news is becoming more negative"which seems to predict global unrest.

The below map shows the Summary of World Broadcasts content from 1979-2010. Green is positive and red is negative.

12 Eylül 2011 Pazartesi

Turkish-Egyptian alliance: Israel faces regional isolation

Editorial   Guardian

Netanyahu can either prepare for another war or accept that Israel can no longer impose its will on its neighbours.

Monday's visit to Egypt by Turkey's prime minister, Reccep Tayyip Erdogan, will be watched like no other. It comes just three days after thousands of Egyptians stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Eighty-six Israelis inside fled, and six security guards trapped inside a strong room had to be freed by Egyptian commandos, but only after intervention from the White House. What those diplomats felt was the wrath of an Egyptian people humiliated by the killing of five soldiers at the Israeli border three weeks ago. A sixth soldier died at the weekend. Mr Erdogan will bring with him the support of a regional power and Nato member whose citizens were also killed by Israeli soldiers on the Gaza flotilla last year, and who is now threatening to send warships to protect the next one. If post-revolutionary Egypt and an economically resurgent Turkey make common cause against their former common ally – and there is every indication that they will – Israel's isolation in the region will be profound.

Turkish frigates to confront Israeli ships in Mediterranean

Today's Zaman

The Turkish Navy is planning to dispatch three frigates to the Eastern Mediterranean to ensure freedom of navigation and to confront Israeli warships if necessary, a Turkish news report said on Monday.
The Turkish frigates, to be dispatched by the Navy's Southern Sea Area Command, will provide protection to civilian ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, blockaded by Israel since 2007, the Turkish daily Sabah reported. If the Turkish warships encounter an Israeli military ship outside Israel's 12-mile territorial waters, they will advance up to 100 meters close to the ship and disable its weapon system, in a confrontation that resembles dogfights in the Aegean Sea with Greek jet fighters, according to the report.

The report comes days after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Turkish warships will escort civilian aid ships headed to Gaza to prevent a repetition of last year's Israeli raid on a Turkish-owned ship that killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American, setting the stage for a potential naval confrontation with its former ally.

10 Eylül 2011 Cumartesi

Turkey set to sign military pact with Egypt after cutting trade ties with Israel


The alliance is not intended as 'revenge' against Israel; Erdogan's intention is to extend Turkey's influence to areas it has not reached in past decades. 

A military and economic alliance with Egypt is set to be signed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The deal should be clinched when Erdogan visits Cairo next Monday - the first such visit paid by a Turkish prime minister in 15 years.

The alliance is not intended as "revenge" against Israel; Erdogan's intention is to extend Turkey's influence to areas it has not reached in past decades.

Under former President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt rejected Turkish overtures; Mubarak viewed Erdogan as an interloper in regions that were under Egypt's, and Saudi Arabia's, influence. The new Egyptian government, however, seems eager to develop economic and strategic ties with Turkey.

After keeping mum on the subject of sanctions on Israel for three days, Erdogan has made his position clear: He believes that Israel-Turkey relations are not a personal matter between himself and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but rather a Turkish national interest.

Why the crisis between Turkey and Israel is hurting everyone

Joshua WALKER** & Emiliano ALESSANDRI*    GMFUS

WASHINGTON — The United Nations’ recent report investigating the deaths of nine Turks when Israel stopped a flotilla trying to break a Gaza blockade has brought an end to a suspenseful episode in Turkish-Israeli relations. But with closure (of a sort) comes an opening (of a sort). We might be nearing one of the greatest breaks in the region as both governments react to the report’s content.

Now is not the time for these longstanding allies to escalate yet another crisis in an already challenging, unstable, and dangerous region. As democracies with deep links to the transatlantic community, Turkey and Israel must recognize that they both have vital stakes in the stabilization of the Middle East through the establishment of more representative regimes in the region. Both have the same goal of helping other countries integrate into the broader international economy to boost much-needed growth and development while also improving humanitarian standards in the region to international standards. Instead, the latest developments distract everyone from these commonalties toward unhelpful divergences.

Turkey: Medical Tourism Booming, Offering “Sun and Surgery”

Justin VELA     Eurasianet

Tourists don’t just come to Turkey for the sun and the sights. Hundreds of thousands of foreign patients each year are now traveling to receive treatment in private hospitals in Istanbul and other Turkish cities.

Forty-seven-year-old Bishkek resident Mira Iskendirova, a cervical cancer patient, is one such medical tourist. When her cancer metastasized, Kyrgyz doctors recommended that Iskendirova fly to Turkey for treatment. She opted for the Anadolu Hastanesi, a private Istanbul hospital affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. After an operation, she returned to Kyrgyzstan for a chemotherapy regimen prescribed by her Turkish doctors.

“In Kyrgyzstan, the price is lower, of course,” Iskendirova said. “When you compare quality, this is higher. In health, I prefer quality rather than price.”

Turkey’s Ministry of Health estimates that some 500,000 foreigners were treated at Turkish hospitals in 2010; the figure represents a 70-percent increase since 2007. In 2010, the country earned a whopping $850 million from health tourism, according to the semi-official Anatolia News Agency.

9 Eylül 2011 Cuma

Turkey as the New Norway?

Brent E. SASLEY*    The Huffington Post

Without putting too fine a point on it, Turkey has in the last few months been acting like a petulant child that doesn't get its dessert before the meal. This is a direct result of the all-too-commonplace assumption of Turkish leaders and outside analysts of Turkey's heavy weight in the Middle East. Both have, since the end of the Cold War, called attention to Turkey's expanding economy, large population, ability to act as bridge between the Muslim and non-Muslim world, and unique position between Arabs and Israelis as factors making Turkey a very consequential actor in regional politics.

At the end of the Cold War and the sudden appearance of the Turkic republic in Central Asia, former President Turgut Özal might be forgiven -- given his flair for the dramatic -- for proclaiming in 1992 that the 21st century would be "the century of the Turks." And one might similarly shrug at the appearance of books at the time declaring, for example, Turkey as one of the world's new "pivotal states."

But the proclivity for exaggerating Turkey's centrality to regional politics seems to have remained firmly in place for subsequent Turkish foreign policy, and indeed has become enhanced under the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP in the Turkish acronym). However, this penchant may have finally caught up with Ankara, and now exposed the chimera that was Turkey's regional influence.

Turkey on the rise in Eurasia

Jose Luis Chalhoub*     Political Scientist

Turkey is definitely gaining a greater and more important position in all the eurasian region, asserting its influence given its weight within the most important geopolitical zone of the planet. In recent years we have seen a more independent and autonomous turkey away from nato and western interference, and designing its very own foreign policy. In this sense and specifically since the beginning of  Recep Tayyip Erdogan government, turkey has been aligning itself with countries like russia, supporting iran's position on different subjects, siding with blocs like the BRICS, and the more so since turkey's highest role as a transit country of all the energy that flows from the Caspian Sea, being one example of this the BTC (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan), which has been one strategic leverage tool of the turkish government vis a vis the European Union and Washington.

Besides, Turkey has been showing a sustained economic growth on the last decade, considered one of the most prominent emerging market, and demographically and religiously this country has a lot to show in the coming years. But of course the country of Ataturk faces many challenges being them the intentions of the regional powers like Russia, Iran, India, China which also have intentions in the zone rich on energy resources besides the most important fact of the future of Washington/EU/Turkey relations, adding to that the current situation between Israel and Turkey because of energy matters on Cyprus, adding to that the long standing issues concerning Turkey on the armenian weight on capitol hill and the white house regarding turkey and the future of the turkish/greek relationship in the coming years. Russia is becoming an important ally of turkey based on energy supplies, but time will tell if this could be a true alliance given russia's own intention in the region especially in the former central asian republics which in part has turkish ethnic binds to Ankara. So after this general landscape and overview one can ask if Turkey is really going for its own role, or could strenghten russia ties within the organization of shanghai, or maybe the true intentions is to deploy a macro geopolitical strategy a la Ottomana in Eurasia? Well this highly will depend on the delicate issue of the military weight in the decision making in turkish politics in the short and medium term. Time will tell definitely.

*Caracas, Venezuela

8 Eylül 2011 Perşembe

Turkey Crisis Provokes Israeli Army Anger at Lieberman


Professor Juan Cole  

The crisis between Turkey and Israel deepened on Monday, allegedly provoking severe tensions between the Israeli officer corps and the far right-wing Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman. There was also disarray among the officers over an allegation by one general that the Middle East might be moving toward comprehensive war, an assessment that was firmly rejected by the Israeli chief of staff and the minister of defense.

The Turkish government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan froze military trade and sent more naval vessels in the the eastern Mediterranean on Monday. Erdogan will go to Egypt next week to improve ties with its new revolutionary government. There is some talk of Erdogan visiting Gaza while in Egypt, but the trip may not materialize, especially if Egypt’s transitional government is [not] open to the idea.

Erdogan’s ruling AK Party includes among its constituencies Turks who are interested in Muslim politics. But AK is not a fundamentalist party and has not sought Islamization of Turkish law.

Israeli politicians and officers are usually adept in presenting a united front to the outside world, even though Israeli society is, like any other, divided socially and politically. But the Turkey crisis and the upheavals in the Arab have provoked open divisions that offer a window on the fissures in the Israeli elite.

Turkey and Israel might tumble into an armed conflict in the Mediterranean.

Bora Bayraktar    Euronews

“It is possible that Turkey and Israel might tumble into an armed conflict in the Mediterranean.” It is remarkable to hear these words from a diplomat who spent most of his career building good relations between the two countries. But Alon Liel has not ruled out this possibility.

Turkey and Israel, long time allies in the Middle East, have been at odds since the Gaza War in 2009. Turkey’s Prime Minister openly criticised Israel’s bombardment of civilians in Gaza during the operation and bawled out Israeli President Shimon Peres during a conference at Davos.

However this crisis was contained by adept diplomats, while Peres was quick to save relations from a free fall. But the flotilla crisis in May last year ended, with the killing of eight Turks and one Turkish-American citizen during the Israeli raid, was hard to swallow for Turkey. 

26 Ağustos 2011 Cuma

Turkey eyes political role, deals in Libya

REUTERS    by Ibon Villelabeitia

Hesitant at first to dump one-time friend Muammar Gaddafi and to back NATO operations, Turkey is taking a lead role in efforts to rebuild Libya now the Libyan leader is on the run, eyeing billion dollar deals and hoping to extend its influence in north Africa.

Muslim Turkey, a rising diplomatic and political power in the Middle East and in North Africa, had close political ties with Gaddafi and Turkish companies had projects worth more than $15 billion in the oil producing nation last year.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who in February said NATO intervention in Libya was "out of the question," once received the Gaddafi International peace prize from Gaddafi himself.

But as the revolt spread, forcing the evacuation of thousands of Turks and leaving unfinished projects behind, and as Gaddafi grew more isolated internationally, Ankara shifted its position.

It reluctantly backed NATO operations, called on Gaddafi to step down and recognized the rebels as Libya's legitimate government. Ankara has provided the rebel National Transitional Council, the new masters of much of Libya, with $300 million in cash, loans and other aid.

Speaking at a Libya Contact Group meeting of senior diplomats in Istanbul Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged the United Nations to unfreeze Libyan assets and pledged full international support for a stable, prosperous and democratic Libya.

17 Ağustos 2011 Çarşamba

Korea’s bid to build nuclear plant in Turkey resurrected

Limb Jae-un      Korea JoongAng Daily

Turkish minister opens door after Japan deal falls through.

It’s thought that Korea is going to get another shot at securing a $2 billion contract to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey after Japan pulled out of the deal on July 28.

During a visit to Korea last week, Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan signaled that the country is looking for alternative partners to build the plant. But the Ministry of Knowledge Economy confirmed that talk of the project was absent during Minister Choi Joong-kyung’s meeting with Caglayan.

Later, Caglayan was quoted by Turkish journalists as saying that other countries are welcome to participate in the nuclear project. The 5GW power plant will be constructed in the Black Sea region of Sinop.

The two countries have not officially resumed negotiations since Turkey chose Japan as the priority negotiating partner on Dec. 23, 2010.

15 Ağustos 2011 Pazartesi

Turkey to buy its first heavy-lift army copters

Ümit ENGINSOY    Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Turkey has inked a deal with the US to buy six CH-4 helicopters, or Chinooks, for $400 million. The Turkish party will make some modifications on copters.

Turkey has signed a government-to-government deal with the United States to buy six Boeing-made CH-47 heavy-lift military transport helicopters, the first such weapons in its inventory, a senior procurement official said over the weekend.

The deal is worth up to $400 million, the official said.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, or DSCA, the Pentagon’s body coordinating weapons sales, notified the U.S. Congress of a potential sale of a total of 14 CH-47F heavy-lift helicopters for $1.2 billion in December 2009. Congress gave permission for the sale later that month.

Because of financial constraints, however, the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry, or SSM, Turkey’s procurement agency, later wanted to buy only six CH-47Fs, five for the Army and one for the Special Forces Command, leaving a decision on the remaining eight platforms for the future. Contract negotiations between the SSM, the U.S. government and Boeing were launched last year.

12 Ağustos 2011 Cuma

Turkey’s Role in European Energy Security

Dr. Mehmet Efe Biresselioglu*   Natural Gas for Europe      

Ankara’s geography can help boost European energy security

An expert in European geopolitics in the Department of International Relations and the EU at Turkey’s Izmir University of Economics, Dr. Mehmet Efe Biresselioglu contended that there were some basic problems with European energy policy.

“The political reality of the European Union changes when it is faced with energy issues,” he explained. “The EU is divided into two different poles: there are the national decision making centers on one hand, and the EU institutions with powerful transnational political resources on the other. So basically in spite of the liberal inter-governmental setting, and fully integrated political policies, these two different poles mean that the EU is divided over a common energy policy.

“The main obstacle to progress in energy policy is basically the various preferences of the member states, all of which have their different domestic energy resources, different energy requirements and large, state-owned, monopolistic energy industries. All the states have different preferences.”

11 Ağustos 2011 Perşembe

Confident Turkey plans to raise arms expenses to historic high

Ümit ENGINSOY     Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

While many European countries are trying to cut their expenditures in a bid to decrease their public debt, Turkey’s defense spending is about to reach an all-time record of $5 billion in 2011. ‘Thank God, the general economic situation of the country is fine,’ a senior procurement official tells the Hürriyet Daily News.

Turkey will spend close to $5 billion for defense procurement this year, the highest in the country’s history, a senior procurement official said on the weekend.

“Some major spending items have just started or are starting now, including those for the purchase of [around 100] Joint Strike Fighter jet aircraft [JFSs], submarines and utility helicopters,” said the official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity. “As a result, the arms spending is jumping, approaching $5 billion this year. Thank God, the general economic situation of the country is fine.”

In recent years Turkey has spent just over $4 billion a year on defense procurement.

9 Ağustos 2011 Salı

NATO Warns Turkey Against Chinese, Russian Systems

Ümit ENGINSOY & Burak Ege BEKDIL     Defence News

ANKARA - NATO officials have warned Turkey that if it buys Chinese or Russian air and missile defense systems, Ankara would operate them without the Western alliance's intelligence on incoming ballistic missiles.

Turkey's national air and missile competition has attracted bids from a U.S. partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, offering the Patriot air defense system; Russia's Rosoboronexport, marketing the S-300; China's CPMIEC (China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp.), offering its HQ-9; and the Italian-French consortium Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T Aster 30.

Turkish officials, who are planning to choose a system late this year or early next year, have declined to rule out the Chinese and Russian entries.

Many Western officials and experts say the Russian and Chinese systems are not compatible with NATO systems. If Ankara picks one, Moscow or Beijing may gain access to classified NATO information and disrupt alliance procedures, they say.

Turkey sends Syria a message that Britain cannot

Simon Tisdall   Guardian

Syrian visit by the Turkish foreign minister has the appearance of a showdown – but President Bashar al-Assad might listen.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, admitted last week there was not much more Britain could do to halt the Syrian crackdown, while his US counterpart, Hillary Clinton, has been reduced to counting the dead.
But Turkey, Syria's more powerful neighbour, is less supine. It is sending its foreign minister to Damascus on Tuesday to read the riot act to Syria's gore-soaked president, Bashar al-Assad.

Ahmet Davutoglu's visit comes against a backdrop of daily atrocities by a regime struggling to contain the uprising. At least 42 civilians died on Sunday in army attacks on the eastern town of Deir Ezzor, activists said. Ten deaths were also reported in Houleh in central Syria. Belated promises from the regime of free, multiparty elections appear to have done nothing to defuse the crisis, which has claimed 1,600 lives since March.

What is Turkey’s role in Syria?

Bora Bayraktar   Euronews

Turkey says it cannot stay indifferent to what is happening in neighbouring Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said “whatever happens in Syria is our internal affair”. Long, high level meetings during these hot summer days are obvious sign of that perception.

In Ankara, the prime minister’s office has been very busy. On Monday Erdogan met with his new Chief of Staff, four-star-general Necdet Özel, along with his Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, along with Minister of Defence Ismet Yılmaz and other civil and military officials. The subject was Syria and Foreign Minister Davutoglu’s visit to Damascus on Tuesday. Turkish leaders reviewed the strategy of defending Syria in the international arena and discussed the options to stop the bloodshed in Syria, more than 1,600 people have been killed there since March.

Following the prime minister’s meeting with top officials, the US Ambassador to Ankara, Francis Ricciardione, also visited the PM’s office bringing messages from Washington which Foreign Minister Davutoglu will pass on during this visit to Damascus. Davutoglu also spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the phone. Her message to Bashar al-Assad is that he should release all detained protestors, establish a new government and sent his army back to barracks.

4 Ağustos 2011 Perşembe

Istanbul on the Nile: Why the Turkish Model of Military Rule Is Wrong for Egypt

Steven A. Cook   Foreign Affairs

In the weeks and months since Egypt’s military officers forced then President Hosni Mubarak from power and assumed executive authority, the country’s military rulers have shown an interest in applying what many have taken to calling the “Turkish model.” Spokesmen for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), along with some civilian politicians, have floated the idea of replicating in Egypt today aspects of a bygone era in Turkish politics.

Despite some similarities between the Egyptian and Turkish armed forces, Egypt’s officers would be ill advised to try to emulate their counterparts in Turkey. Not only would they be bound to fail but, in the process, would make the struggle to build the new Egypt far more complex and uncertain.

Egypt’s military commanders are not so much interested in the latest manifestation of the Turkish model, in which a party of Islamist patrimony oversees political and economic reforms as part of an officially secular state, but rather an older iteration of it. This version of the Turkish model was a hallmark of Turkey’s politics from the time of the republic’s founding in 1923 until the early 2000s. It offers a template for civil-military relations in which the military plays a moderating role, preventing -- at times, through military-led coups -- the excesses of civilian politicians and dangerous ideologies (in Turkey’s case, Islamism, Kurdish nationalism, and, at one time, socialism) from threatening the political order.

On Europe’s Fringes: Russia, Turkey and the European Union

Philip Hanson*  Chatham House  

Summary points

  • Russia and Turkey, significant powers on the fringes of the European Union, both have awkward relations with Brussels.
  • As Russia’s and Turkey’s strength becomes greater and the EU’s declines, the relationships between them will increasingly involve political as well as economic factors. 
  • Turkey is economically and politically closer to Europe than Russia is, while Russia’s relationship with Europe mainly consists of a mutual  energy dependency.
  • Russia’s unpredictable business environment remains a key constraint on its deeper integration with the EU. The Turkish economy faces  challenges, but Turkey has a much better business environment than  Russia. 
  • The EU’s own economic deficiencies suggest that it needs to remain circumspect in dealing with both countries. But Turkey, in particular,  should be considered more of a foreign policy partner.

*Russia and Eurasia Programme/Europe Programme

Download full paper:

3 Ağustos 2011 Çarşamba

Photovoltaic energy: the door to a more livable world

Tuğba Aydın     Today's Zaman

As the world battles with environmental problems like global warming, inventors are coming up with increasingly innovative and environmentally friendly products every day, such as a “coffee printer,” which makes ink out of coffee beans, or the “solar bench,” which can power your laptop as you sit in a park, solely using the power of the sun.
Reusable energy sources are also increasingly making their way into our lives. One such promising form of energy that is likely to be used extensively in the future is photovoltaic energy.

“Photovoltaic (PV) technology makes a 100 percent clean energy yield possible, using high-capacity solar panels. This is a new way of producing energy in Turkey, so it may take years for us to utilize it to the extent it is used in other developed countries,” explains Furkan Başkurt, a research associate from the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department of İstanbul Technical University (İTU).

Greek Cyprus Drilling for oil and gas to start by October 1 Turkey

Stefanos Evripidou    Cyprus Mail

DRILLING FOR natural gas off the southern coast of Cyprus will begin on or before October 1, after which the country will get a concrete picture of how rich its resources are, said Energy Service director Solon Kassinis yesterday.

Cyprus has signed a production-sharing contract with Houston-based Noble Energy. The company has a concession to explore for hydrocarbons in an offshore field in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) south-east of Cyprus, known as Block 12.

The energy chief said drilling would start by October 1 latest after which, in approximately two months time Cyprus will have a clear view of the size of its hydrocarbons reserves for that block.

The government will then proceed with a second round of licensing for other blocks in the region.

The authorities expect a revised version of the environmental impact study to be submitted this week. The original study was sent to all relevant government departments, who asked for certain clarifications and minor changes.

27 Temmuz 2011 Çarşamba

Turkey may end priority talks with Japan on nuke plant-media


Turkey may end priority talks with Japan on building its second nuclear power plant by the end of this month, a move that could lead to competition for the project with other nations including France and South Korea, Japan's Yomiuri newspaper said on Tuesday.

The Turkish government has told its Japanese counterpart that it would do so unless Japan clarifies its intention to continue talks by the end of this month, the report said, citing unnamed sources.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said earlier this month he expected Japan to make a proposal by the end of July to clarify the road map for a planned nuclear power plant to be built in Turkey.

Yildiz had said in March he hopes to complete talks with Japan on the plant before year-end. Ankara has been in talks with Tokyo Electric Power Co , the operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima plant, and Toshiba on building a plant on the Black Sea coast.


26 Temmuz 2011 Salı

Azerbaijan looks favorably on Nabucco for diversification

 Abdullah Bozkurt        Today's Zaman

Azerbaijan Minister of Economic Development Shahin Mustafayev has said his country is approaching the European Union-backed Nabucco pipeline project “in a very positive manner.”

Mustafayev, speaking to Today's Zaman in Baku last week, said the Nabucco project, which aims to carry Caspian natural gas supplies to European markets while bypassing the Russian route, is very important in terms of diversification of Azerbaijani energy policies.

“We have to look at the supply side of gas and should enlist more suppliers for Nabucco. The rights of all producers, consumers and transit countries must be protected as well,” he explained.

Nabucco is in competition with two other alternative pipeline projects, namely Interconnector Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI) and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). All three pipelines will have to pass through Turkey or link to the country's existing network. Following the examination of detailed proposals in October, Azerbaijan is expected to decide which project to prioritize before the end of 2011.

Arab spring fuels tourism boom for Turkey

Constanze Letsch        The Guardian

Tourists from Gulf countries prefer Istanbul and Black Sea coast over usual summer destinations of Egypt and Syria.

The Arab spring is fuelling a Turkish summer as Saudis, Kuwaitis and other tourists from the Gulf states who would have previously spent summers in Syria or Egypt look further north.

Figures from the Turkish ministry of culture and tourism show bookings from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are up by 75% and, with the beginning of Ramadan days away, hotels in Istanbul and the northwestern city of Bursa are fully booked.

Turkey's new wave of Arab visitors in part attribute their presence in the country down to the instability in their usual summer holiday destinations.

"We come here now because there is so much trouble in other Arab countries," said Muhammad al-Menhali from Abu Dhabi, who was in Turkey for the first time with his wife Imad and baby son. "We usually go to Egypt, but we feel safer in Turkey."