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."

25 Temmuz 2011 Pazartesi

Azerbaijan questions Turkey’s Nabucco moves

İpek Yezdani     Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Azerbaijan has questioned Turkey’s attitude on the Nabucco pipeline project after Baku failed to receive a copy of the signed contract from Ankara, according to a top official from the Caspian nation.

 “Unfortunately nobody sent us the copy of this Project Support Agreement,” Elshad Nasirov, the vice president of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, or SOCAR, told the Hürriyet Daily News during a recent interview. “And we will not ask for it, because this will violate the principle of equal treatment for … three projects – Nabucco, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline [TAP] and the Interconnection Turkey-Greece-Italy [ITGI].”
Azerbaijan was the only project partner absent when the legal framework for the Nabucco Pipeline was reportedly signed and finalized on June 8 for the project support agreements, or PSAs, between Nabucco Gas Pipeline International GmbH and the responsible ministries of the five transit countries, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Turkey.

The signature ceremony was organized just before Turkey’s June 12 general elections in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, where Turkish energy minister was running for a seat in Parliament.

Azerbaijan, Russia Discuss Increasing Oil and Gas Exports

Oil and Gas Information Agency

Economic relations between Azerbaijan and Russia are progressing and trade turnover is increasing and the are real possibilities for achieving improvements in the future, Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said Monday in Moscow after talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

"We discussed the issue of pumping additional oil through the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline as well as increasing gas deliveries. The Azerbaijan state oil and gas company (SOCAR) is negotiating with colleagues in Russia", Mammadyarov said.

The Azerbaijan gas sales contract to Russia (with an option for extension) was signed between SOCAR and Gazprom in Baku on October 14, 2009. Under an addendum to the contract signed in the beginning of September 2010, in 2011 Gazprom will get 2 billion cubic meters of gas and in 2012, over 2 billion cubic meters, Trend reports, citing the Rossiya 24 television channel.

Supplies of Azerbaijan gas to Russia began on January 1, 2010.


The world's biggest armed forces

The Economist

ON JULY 18th the British government announced a reduction to the country's army from 101,000 troops now to 84,000 by 2020. Altogether Britain's active armed forces—ie, excluding reserves—numbered 178,000 in 2010, placing it a fairly modest 28th in a global ranking of 161 countries for which data are available. Indeed, its European counterparts Germany and France actually maintain larger armed forces of 251,000 and 238,000 respectively. In absolute numbers, rich and populous countries such as America, China and India keep the biggest militaries. Countries that have seen war (Iran, Vietnam) or are situated in strife-torn regions such as the Middle East also feature prominently. The most heavily militarised country of all is North Korea, where there are 49 military personnel for every 1,000 of its people.


21 Temmuz 2011 Perşembe

‘Nuclear plant can meet Cypriot energy demand’

Gökhan KURTARAN        Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

The construction of a nuclear plant in Northern Cyprus could help meet the island’s electricity demand, authorities say. Turkey is also working on an energy masterplan for Cyprus’ both sides, Turkish minister says.

Turkey’s bid to supply electricity for the whole of Cyprus has been based on two plans, building a nuclear plant on the island or laying underwater cables from Turkey, according to Turkey’s Chamber of Mechanical Engineers.

The claim has been certified by the Turkish Cypriot authority as well as the chamber.

Turkey has already set all the options on the table for meeting the energy needs of the island, Haluk Direşkeneli, a board member of the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers and head of its Energy Committee, said in a phone interview Tuesday.

“Russia’s barge-mounted nuclear power plant might be built in northern Cyprus,” he said, adding that such a facility would generate electricity “not only for the Turkish part [of the divided island], but also the Greek part.”

A nuclear plant on the island was also discussed in the Greek Cypriot parliament a few years ago, Direşkeneli said.

Ankara Quietly Weighing U.S. Nukes on Turkish Soil

Joshua KUCERA    Eurasianet

NATO is currently undertaking a review of its nuclear posture, including the status of the tactical nuclear weapons that the U.S. maintains in five NATO countries, including Turkey. Some NATO members -- mainly the Baltics and ex-Warsaw Pact states -- want the U.S. to keep the nuclear weapons in Europe, while others (like Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway) are pushing for a dramatic move, including possibly completely removing the nukes from Europe. Turkey falls somewhere in between those countries, but more on the side of maintaining the nuclear weapons, writes Steven Pifer, an arms control expert at the Brookings Institution, in a new paper "NATO, Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control."

Turkey has hosted U.S. nuclear weapons since 1961, and currently at the Incirlik air base the U.S. has an unknown, but small, number of tactical B-61 nuclear bombs and fighter-bomber jets that can drop them. (The total number of U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe is thought to be about 200, down from a Cold War number of 7,000.)

20 Temmuz 2011 Çarşamba

Turkey and Greece: Time to Settle the Aegean Dispute


Istanbul/Brussels, 19 July 2011: To capitalise on twelve years of normalisation, and at a time when both could benefit from a foreign policy success, Greece and Turkey should settle their expensive, outdated and stressful stand-off over Aegean Sea maritime zones and related issues.

Turkey and Greece: Time to Settle the Aegean Dispute, the latest International Crisis Group policy briefing, identifies favourable circumstances for resolving the long-standing issues. While Ankara fears losing access to open seas and the Aegean continental shelf, and Athens worries about the security of hundreds of its islands, continuing deadlock is costly for both. Greece, in financial crisis, needs to reduce a disproportionate military budget. Turkey’s new government, elected with a strong majority in June, needs to ensure its neighbour’s stability and further assert itself as a responsible regional player. 

“The dispute is far more about the domestic politics and psychology of Greece and Turkey than real security concerns”, says Didem Akyel, Crisis Group’s Turkey/Cyprus Analyst. “Lack of political will to let go of maximalist positions and confront popular opinion with compromises has kept the negotiations in the starting blocks”. 

19 Temmuz 2011 Salı

Report: Turkish firm to sign gas deal with Iran

Today's Zaman

Iran has said a Turkish private company is expected to sign a gas deal that will result in importing four million cubic meters (cbm) of gas to Turkey a day at a time the United States has stepped up its efforts to put companies on a sanctions list that trades with Iranian government.

Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Javad Oji said Iran will deliver three to four million cbm of gas to the Turkish company a day and that "the deal is different from the current exports agreement" of supplying Turkey with 25 to 30 million cbm of gas, Iran’s state-run Press TV reported on Monday.

Venezuela Oil Reserves Surpassed Saudis In 2010 - OPEC

Dow Jones Newswires by Benoit Faucon

LONDON - Venezuela's crude proven reserves surpassed those of Saudi Arabia in 2010, making it the world's largest oil reserves holder, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its annual statistical bulletin.

Venezuela's proven crude oil reserves reached 296.5 billion barrels in 2010, up 40.4% on the year and higher than Saudi Arabia's 264.5 billion barrels, OPEC said.

In the long run the boost in reserves, which comes alongside increases from Iran and Iraq, may empower members of OPEC who favor a defense of high prices. However, there are doubts over whether all of Venezuela's heavy oil discoveries are economically viable.

The data broadly confirm Venezuela's statements that it had reached this level of reserves in January. OPEC normally relies on its members' assessments for statistical data.

Iraq's and Iran's proven reserves were also respectively upgraded by 24.4% to 143.1 billion barrels and by 10.3% to 151.2 billion barrels respectively, roughly in line with the countries' earlier disclosures.

Venezuela, Iran and Iraq were part of a group that refused to endorse a Saudi-led push to hike output at an acrimonious OPEC meeting June 8.

Analysts have questioned how economic Venezuelan reserves additions could be, as most come from the heavy and extra-heavy oil in the Orinoco Belt, which is difficult and expensive to extract.

13 Temmuz 2011 Çarşamba

Iran and Turkey Divided over Syria

Shayan GHAJAR  InsideIran

Though Turkey has invested a great deal of effort into its policy of maintaining good relations with neighboring states, the Arab winter of discontent has severely weakened the ability of the Turkish government to do so. Syria, which shares a border with Turkey stretching hundreds of miles, has proved particularly damaging to Turkey’s regional foreign policy. Forced to speak out on Syria’s burgeoning humanitarian crisis as Bashar al-Assad’s troops drive thousands to seek safety on the border between the two nations, Turkey’s stance has set it at odds with Syria’s staunch ally, Iran.

Turkey’s policy of seeking positive relations with regional states led it to better relations with Syria in recent years after decades of mistrust between the two nations. Similarly, Turkey has sought improved relations with Iran as well, brokering the ineffectual–and politically costly–Tehran Declaration in 2010, which sought to resolve the international dispute over Iran’s nuclear enrichment. While the United States supported Turkey’s efforts to coax Syria back into the international community, its efforts to do the same with Iran were met with skepticism and frustration. Now, with Syria’s instability representing a threat not only to Turkey’s border security but also its regional reputation, Ankara is taking a much firmer stance on its neighboring state.

7 Temmuz 2011 Perşembe

Nouriel Roubini’s Uneducated Comments About the Turkish Economy

 Insider Monkey

Nouriel Roubini has been consistently bearish throughout the recovery. Roubini’s popularity eroded as his bearish predictions about the U.S.  economy turned out wrong. Recently Nouriel Roubini was the guest on Turkey’s Bloomberg HT television and talked about the Turkish economy. Last week the Turkish Institute of Statistics announced that Turkey’s 2011 Q1 growth rate was 11%. This is even higher than China’s cooked growth rates. So Roubini’s recommendation to Turkey was to raise interest rates and control capital flows to cool down the economy. Clearly Roubini is uneducated about the Turkish economy and the figures released by the Statistics Institute.  Here is why Roubini is wrong:

Turkey's growing regional power boosts EU membership hopes

Thomas SEIBERT   The National

ISTANBUL // As a rising regional power in a tumultuous Middle East, Turkey has laboured for months to mediate between governments and opposition groups in a region shaken by a wave of popular revolts.
Now a potential fringe benefit of Ankara's high-profile role is starting to appear on the horizon: Turkey's standing with the European Union could receive a boost.

Guido Westerwelle, Germany's foreign minister, has become the first top EU official to tell his European colleagues publicly that they should change the way they deal with Turkey, which has grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in its bid to join the bloc.

"Turkey has been a stable bridge into the Muslim world, and we in Europe would be foolish if we were not to make more use of this bridge," Mr Westerwelle said late on Friday after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul. "Turkey plays a key role for the change in Egypt to succeed, for a political solution in Libya and for the right influence on the Syrian leadership," he said.

6 Temmuz 2011 Çarşamba

Arab Spring Exposes Turkey's Western Moorings

Michael CECIRE     World Politics Review

Against the backdrop of the Middle East's ongoing upheaval, especially the violence in neighboring Syria, Turkey's once-vaunted "zero problems" foreign policy strategy now looks severely outdated. Though Turkey will continue to seek a balanced, multivector foreign policy, the liabilities of its strategy, as illustrated in Syria, have laid bare Ankara's continued Western moorings.

The unrest in Syrian began as an extension of the Arab Spring protests earlier this year, but grew into a full-scale uprising after government security forces unleashed bloody crackdowns that have caused more than 1,400 deaths to date. Thousands of refugees have since streamed across the Turkish border in search of relative safety.