26 Nisan 2011 Salı

Free-Spending Turkey Hopes to Avoid a Fall

Landon THOMAS Jr.       The New York Times

ISTANBUL — Is Turkey’s booming economy ripe for a fall? It certainly looks that way.

Stock brokers endure four-month waiting lists to pay as much as $150,000 for top-of-the-line Audis and BMWs — twice the manufacturers’ prices after taxes. A real estate developer recently laid out a record $33.3 million an acre for a 24-acre plot of land in Istanbul’s city center.

But the most striking sign that the economy here may be overheating comes from a usual suspect: the country’s aggressive banks. They have found a creative way to finance consumer splurges by providing quick loan approval via text message or A.T.M. machine.

Analysts and bankers say the explosive growth in consumer loans has fed a worrying expansion of the country’s current account deficit, estimated to be 8 percent of gross domestic product this year.
Turkey’s trouble in financing gaps of that size has been at the root of  its past two busts, and some worry that history may be repeating itself.

“We are again producing and consuming beyond our capacity,” said Atilla Yesilada, an economist at Istanbul Analytics, who has lived through Turkey’s last two busts, in 1994 and 2001. “We are financing our growth entirely through foreign credit, which is becoming more expensive. At some point life catches up with you, and you crash.”

12 Nisan 2011 Salı

Turkish pipeline operator laments debts due to gas price hike

Gokhan Kurtaran    Hurriyet Daily News

Turkey's BOTAŞ International Limited, which operates the Turkish section of the BTC pipeline, has applied for international arbitration against the consortium that provides natural gas for the route due to operational costs. BİL chairman İbrahim Palaz tells the Daily News that the operational cost of the oil pipeline is higher than the profit defined by the agreement signed between the parties in 2002
The operator of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline’s Turkish section is applying for international arbitration against its natural gas provider due to a dramatic rise in the price of gas, which the company needs to run its oil pumps.

“The agreement that was signed between the parties nearly nine years ago is causing a great loss of money,” BOTAŞ International Limited, or BIL, Chairman İbrahim Palaz told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on the sidelines of a press meeting in Adana on Sunday.

Turkey gives offshore prospecting permit to Gazprom for South Stream project

 RIA Novosti - Moscow

Turkey has permitted Russia's gas giant Gazprom to carry out offshore prospecting under the South Stream pipeline project, designed to carry gas to Europe under the Black Sea, Pavel Oderov, head of Gazprom's external economic activities department, said on Friday.

"We will start the offshore prospecting from May," Oderov said.

The offshore prospecting will be part of the procedure for getting Turkey's permission to build the pipeline, in which Germany's Wintershall, a unit of BASF, Italy's Eni and France's EdF will take part, Oderov said.
Gazprom is working on the project's technical and economic assessment and intends to announce the sum of investment as well as the final pipeline route in the summer.

Turkey's Libya road map in limbo as AU plan gains momentum

Hurriyet Daily News

As Ankara seeks international support for its 'road map' on the Libya crisis, an African Union peace initiative gains momentum, with Gadhafi accepting the plan and the EU backing the African leaders' efforts. A delegation of African heads of state meets Libyan rebel leaders in their stronghold of Benghazi to try to sell the plan.

With neither Libyan rebels nor Moammar Gadhafi’s regime giving a clear response to Turkey’s “road map” for the country, an African Union initiative for peace appears to be winning support.

A delegation of African leaders met Libyan rebels in their stronghold of Benghazi on Monday to try to sell a peace plan already accepted by Gadhafi. The spokesman for EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton said the bloc also backs the African Union’s diplomatic efforts to bring a peaceful end to the conflict in Libya.
“There are a couple of proposals of road maps for Libya. What is important for us is to implement one of them immediately. But it seems that Gadhafi just wants to gain some time,” an official from the Turkish Foreign Ministry told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Monday.

Turkey says it is ready to host a Taliban office as part of efforts to end Afghan war


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey said Monday it is willing to host a political office for Taliban militants from Afghanistan in order to promote talks to end the war there, and an Afghan official said Turkish planning is already in progress.

Turkey contributes troops to NATO’s Afghan operation, albeit in a noncombat role, and it has sought to mediate as a regional power in a variety of conflicts beyond its borders. However, hardline elements of the Taliban, whose leaders are based in southwest Pakistan, have publicly derided Afghan government efforts to promote peace and say no talks are possible until foreign forces leave Afghan soil.

A possible role for Turkey, the largest Muslim voice in NATO, in Afghan peace efforts would fit U.S.-backed initiatives to seek a political solution to the nearly decade-old insurgency amid a realization that military force alone is unlikely to end it.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that he talked last month about hosting a Taliban office with Burhanuddin Rabbani, a visiting former president of Afghanistan who leads a peace council set up by the Afghan government to work toward a political solution.

11 Nisan 2011 Pazartesi

Turkey, Japan suspend nuclear plant talks amid safety concerns

Today's Zaman

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız on Sunday said negotiations between Turkey and Japan for the construction of a nuclear power plant have been suspended.
Speaking to reporters in Kayseri, Yıldız said talks were “affected negatively following a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan’s northeast coast” -- also hitting its Fukushima Daiichi complex. Following the tsunami, the Japanese government warned of a possible meltdown at the nuclear facility. Efforts are still under way to cool down reactors in a bid to avert further hydrogen explosions. Regarding the nuclear issue, Yıldız said Japanese officials have requested some time from their Turkish counterparts in nuclear talks as Japan is currently dealing with the consequences of its damaged nuclear plant. Japan has submitted a bid to construct a nuclear power plant in Turkey. Talks with South Korea over the construction of a nuclear plant in Sinop have recently collapsed since the sides failed to agree due to differences such as establishing “fair” electricity prices.

“We have told our Japanese counterparts that we can definitely give them the time they requested as a matter of international courtesy,” the minister said.

Turkey plans regional conference on Afghanistan in November

 Emine Kart           Today's Zaman

Amidst the latest upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa, which has recently kept Ankara extremely busy, the Turkish capital hasn’t for a moment lost sight of Afghanistan and preparations are under way for hosting a huge regional conference on Afghanistan in the autumn.

“At such a critical time through which Afghanistan is going, having close contact with third countries and partners involved in assisting Afghanistan is very important,” Burak Akçapar, deputy director-general for South Asia at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, told Today’s Zaman on Sunday. “As Turkey, we have intensified our efforts in order to help Afghanistan through these hard times,” Akçapar said, referring to intense and frequent consultations held with Turkey and other countries.

Akçapar, recently appointed as Turkey’s new ambassador to India, was speaking after a visit to Washington D.C. where he led a high ranking and broad Turkish interagency delegation for the third round of consultations with the US government on Afghanistan since 2009.

9 Nisan 2011 Cumartesi

Turk Utility Helo Winner To Be Announced April 12: $4 billion contract

Burak Ege BEKDIL &Umit ENGINSOY     Defence news

,ANKARA - Turkey's top government and military authorities will get together April 12 to select and announce the winner of a $4 billion contract for the co-production of utility helicopters, a senior procurement official said April 7.

Turkey's top decision-making body for procurement, the Defense Industry Executive Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will convene to choose between offers from U.S.-based Sikorsky Aircraft and Italy's AgustaWestland.

Skorsky is offering its T-70, the Turkish version of its S-70 Black Hawk International, which is flown by militaries in dozens of countries, including Turkey.


Yunan basınında Türkiye Ulusal Enerji Komitesi üyesi Ahmet Necdet Pamir’le mülakat…

Dünya Enerji Konseyi ile Türkiye Ulusal Enerji Komitesi üyesi Ahmet Necdet Pamir, “Ege’de petrol izi var.” dedi. Yunanistan ile Türkiye arasında MEB’in sınırlanmasına dair anlaşma önerdi. Ahmet Necdet Pamir yaptığı açıklamada Ege konusunun, her iki ülkede de iç tüketim malzemesi olduğu için çözümlenmediğini ve atılması gereken ilk adımın, iki komşu ülke arasında münhasır ekonomik bölgenin (MEB) sınırlarının çizilmesi olduğunu vurguladı. Ege ya da Akdeniz’de petrol varlığını gösteren izler var mı?

PAMİR: Evet. Örneğin Ege’de Yunanistan, Kavala yakınlarındaki Prinos’tan petrol çıkarmaya başlamış durumda. Bu bölge toplu halde hidrokarbonun var olduğunu gösteriyor. İsraillilerin çok büyük bir yatak keşfettikleri Akdeniz’de de durum aynı. Bütün bunlar yatakların olması ihtimalini gösteriyor.
Aramaları engelleyen nedir?

PAMİR: Yunanistan’la siyasi düzeyde belirli sorunlarımızın var. Her iki tarafın talepleri ve farklı görüşleri nedeniyle Ege klasik bir sahil ya da klasik bir deniz değil. Öncelikle bu konular çözümlenmezse herhangi bir gelişmeye yönlenemeyiz.

Turkey's Libya Stance Reflects Pursuit of Wider Influence

Guy TAYLOR         World Politics Review

Turkey's evolving response to the Libyan crisis is just the "latest indication of its goal to be a power broker on the world stage," the Associated Press reported earlier this week.

Henri Barkey, a visiting scholar in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says the Turkish government has "always thought that in the past, the Turks have punched well below their weight."

"Now, with the Turkish economy doing very well, as the 16th-largest economy in the world . . . Turkey is much more able to play an international role, especially in the Caucusus and the Middle East, but also beyond the region," Barkey told Trend Lines this morning.

The combination of a strong economy and a government that is both democratically elected while also maintaining "Muslim sensitivities" has made Turkey a very important player, he said.

Turkish-Azeri Gas transit deal may ease caspian supply to Europe


Turkey and Azerbaijan will sign a deal for the transit for gas from the Shah Deniz-2 Caspian Sea deposit “shortly,” according to an Azeri official, boosting European plans to diversify supplies away from Russia.
“Everything will be signed very shortly, in several weeks,” Elshad Nassirov, vice president for marketing and investment at the State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan, or Socar, said in an interview in the Azeri capital Baku late Thursday.

All major issues, such as the price and volume of gas to be sold to Turkey from Shah Deniz-2, as well as tariffs for the transportation of fuel through the existing and future pipelines in Turkey have been agreed upon, Nassirov said, without providing details.

The European Union is looking to the Caspian, including Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, to diversify supply, offset dwindling production and reduce dependence on Russia. Pipeline projects in the bloc’s so-called southern corridor, including OMV-led Nabucco, are seeking supply from Shah Deniz, one of the world’s biggest deposits, as is Russia’s Gazprom.

3 Nisan 2011 Pazar

Turkey-Greece bank mergers one-way street

Anatolian News Agency

The head of Turkey’s biggest state lender says Greek politics are not ready to welcome a Turkish bank acquiring a Greek lender despite the fact that the National Bank of Greece has been continuing operations in Turkey with its Finansbank subsidiary and more that 500 branches. Ziraat Bank will choose to grow with new branches on the other side of the Aegean, instead of acquiring a bank, the general manager says

Turkish banks in Greece do not enjoy the “kind reception” that the National Bank of Greece, or NBG, experiences in Turkey, according to Can Akın Çağlar, the general manager of Ziraat Bank, the state-run Turkish lender that also has operations in the neighboring country.

“Our existence in Greece is questioned at the Greek parliament almost every day,” he told the Anatolia news agency during his visit to northern Iraq’s Arbil, where he went for an opening ceremony of a new branch last week. “We are worried that if we go and buy a Greek bank, we will not receive the kind reception seen when Finansbank was sold to NBG.”

Turkey and its region: Does Erdoğan have a plan?

The Economist

TURKEY'S mildly Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, thinks he can take credit for the wave of protests sweeping the Arab world. “Which country were they inspired by?” he asked the Turkish parliament recently. He answered his own question: Turkey, with its “advanced democracy”. The country's mix of secularism, free elections and European Union-tailored reforms has certainly raised its profile in its former Ottoman dominions. (Mr Erdoğan’s salvoes against Israel have gone down well too.) The prime minister was among the first world leaders to tell Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down.

So why has Turkey been so reluctant to back western efforts to stop Libya’s dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, from slaughtering his own people? The question has been burning in western capitals ever since Turkey balked at plans to erect a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians.

When the uprising in Libya erupted last month, Mr Erdoğan swiftly opposed any foreign intervention. He described the idea of NATO intervention as "absurd". He called on Colonel Qaddafi to resign but mistrusted Western motives, suggesting that Europeans and Americans were more interested in guzzling Libyan oil than saving Libyan lives. Their "real plan", whispered conspiratorially minded members of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, was nothing less than an “imperial carve-up” of the country.

Arab rulers must change or risk defeat: Turkey

REUTERS    Simon Cameron-Moore and Samia Nakhoul

LONDON - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday a new era was sweeping the Middle East and it was up to its leaders to embrace change or risk being cast away.

He dismissed allegations by many Arab autocrats that an unprecedented wave of uprisings that toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt and inspired masses across Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria was the work of "foreign elements."

Davutoglu said the Middle East was passing through a political and social upheaval like that which gripped Eastern Europe in the 1990s and toppled a series of communist dictators.

"In the region there is an era of change," Davutoglu told Reuters in an interview. "It is like Eastern Europe in the late 1990s. Once there is a popular demand in a region, each country is being affected by these demands."
The world, he said, was changing and a young generation of Arabs "wanted more dignity, more economic prosperity and more democracy."

Turkish nuclear plans on Mediterranean raise fears


  — Turkey plans to build a coastal nuclear power plant close to an earthquake-prone area, dismissing neighbors' fears that Japan's nuclear disaster shows that the new plant could be a risk to the whole Mediterranean region.

Greece and Cyprus say the move is a gamble that could cause catastrophe and want the European Union to scrutinize the EU candidate's plan in a debate fraught with political and historical baggage. Turkish officials insist the plant is safe and necessary to keep the country's strong economy going.

The EU is reassessing the whole 27-nation bloc's energy policy and questioning the role of nuclear power on a continent where no one can forget that Ukraine's 1986 Chernobyl disaster spewed radiation for thousands of miles (kilometers).

But Turkey is standing firmly by plans to build three nuclear power plants in the years ahead — including one at Akkuyu on the Mediterranean coast, close to the Ecemis Fault, which an expert says could possibly generate a magnitude-7 quake.

Greece is staunchly opposed to the plant — calling out its historic rival at an EU summit at which the bloc agreed to checks on its 143 reactors.