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.