Τετάρτη, 24 Μαρτίου 2010

Τι συμβαίνει στην Τουρκία: Turkey Weekly Report (12-19 Μαρτίου 2010)

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Turkish National Agenda (March 12th-19th)
Armenian Genocide


  • A US congressional resolution that would recognize World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide could go forward despite opposition from the Obama administration.
    • Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon, the US State Department's top diplomat for Europe, told reporters on Wednesday that there is no deal with Democratic congressional leaders to block the resolution. That contradicts earlier claims by the State Department.


  • PM Erdoğan's visit to US: The government is weighing whether Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should accept an invitation from US President Barack Obama to visit Washington next month for a nuclear conference at a time when relations are strained following a US House committee vote to recognize Armenian claims of genocide.
    • Another option is the attendance of a government minister, instead of Erdoğan, at the April 12-13 summit, underlining Turkish unease over the House Foreign Affairs Committee decision earlier this month. The Obama administration has said it opposed the resolution, but Ankara asserts that it should have done more to prevent the vote.


  • PM Erdoğan: Turkey's prime minister has warned that he might deport up to 100,000 Armenians living in Turkey without citizenship after resolutions passed by US and Swedish lawmakers defining World War One-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as 'genocide.'
    • Thursday: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks about the possible deportation of irregular Armenian workers in Turkey have angered civil society organizations despite the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) attempts to explain that Erdoğan did not intend to expel these workers but only wanted to underline Turkey's "magnanimity."
    • Öztürk Türkdoğan, the chairman of the Human Rights Association (İHD): Erdoğan's remarks could easily be considered a "threat" and as discrimination. "These remarks could lead some people to think that to expel people is a 2010 version of forced migration. This mentality is far from human rights-oriented thinking. People have the right to work, and this is universal. There are many Turkish workers all over the world; does it mean that Turkey will accept their expulsion when there is an international problem? Secondly, these remarks are discriminatory; there are many workers in Turkey of different nationalities," he said.
    • Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks about the possible deportation of undocumented Armenian workers from Turkey after US and Swedish lawmakers passed resolutions branding the World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide have sparked reactions both in Yerevan and in Ankara.


  • Sweden: Turkey recalled its ambassador to Sweden last Thursday and cancelled an upcoming summit between the countries after the Swedish parliament branded the World War One killings of Anatolian Armenians as "genocide."
    • Turkey has expressed outrage over the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs' approval last Thursday of a non-binding resolution calling the killings "genocide," the vote on which was broadcast live on Turkish television, and recalled its envoy to the United States for consultations. EU-member Sweden has been one of the strongest supporters of Ankara's bid to join the bloc, while the US is generally considered a strong Western ally of NATO-member Turkey.
  • Swedish PM Reinfeldt: Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt phoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday to express his deep sadness over a resolution adopted at the Swedish Parliament earlier this week on the incidents of 1915.
  • Turkish Foreign Ministry: Turkish Foreign Ministry conveyed Turkey's uneasiness to Swedish Ambassador in Ankara Christer Asp after Sweden's parliament approved a resolution in support of the Armenian allegations on the incidents of 1915.
  • Italy: Italy said last Friday that it was not among countries recognizing Armenian allegations regarding 1915 incidents.
  • Catalonia: Jose Montilla, the president of the autonomous government of Catalonia, has sent a letter to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu apologizing on behalf of his administration for adoption of a resolution recognizing killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide by the parliament of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia.
  • US Secretary of Defense: The United States very strongly felt that the resolution on the Armenian allegations regarding incidents of 1915 a mistake. Secretary Robert Gates said a resolution of that kind could be very damaging to the US-Turkish relations.
  • Many Turkish citizens of Armenian descent have called on third countries not to involve themselves in historical disagreements between Turkey and Armenia while the two countries are in the process of resolving these issues and normalizing their once-tense bilateral relations.
  • President Gül: President Abdullah Gül has dismissed further talks with the US administration on easing tensions over a congressional panel vote endorsing Armenian claims of genocide, saying the ball is in the US court now to work on ways to restore ties.
 
Energy


  • OPEC: OPEC should hold its oil production targets steady, Iran's oil minister said Monday, ahead of this week's OPEC meeting, reflecting the producer group's contentment with the current price of crude.
    • Analysts and officials widely expect the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries -- supplier of roughly a third of the world's oil -- to leave its production targets unchanged during its March 17 meeting even as current world oil supplies far exceed demand.


  • Several OPEC members have echoed Saudi Arabia's views that oil in the range of $75 per barrel was fair for both consumer and producer nations. In addition, the group has been reluctant to change its quotas, fearing that another round of output cuts -- despite excess supply of oil in the market -- would undermine the fragile global economic recovery currently taking place.
    • On Sunday, Iran's OPEC governor, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, was quoted on the Oil Ministry's Web site as saying that OPEC members should push for greater compliance with their existing quotas, even though current supply far exceeds demand.
    • The group's compliance had dropped to about 55 percent by last month -- a decline that came even after OPEC, during its last few meetings, stressed the need for greater adherence with output targets.
    • Officials also said last month that Iran plans to offer 5 billion euros in bonds by 2015 to finance projects. Mirkazemi said his country already sold some 250 million euros ($342 million) bonds in foreign markets.


    • Mirkazemi said the countries which pursue the sanctions have managed only to deprive themselves of the chance to tap into some of the world's largest proven reserves of conventional crude oil.
      • "If they want to have a secure long-term energy supply, they have to invest in Iran's oil industry," he said.
  • Thursday: OPEC ministers agreed not to change oil output targets they are already exceeding, anticipating that demand will pick up later in the year to mop up extra barrels.


  • Russia: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will visit Turkey on May 11-13 for talks with Turkish officials focusing on energy cooperation and expanding bilateral ties, Russian officials have said.
    • Turkish and Russian officials have been working hard to finish preparations for the Russian president's visit. In addition to the vast energy cooperation between the two countries, Medvedev and Turkish officials are expected to discuss ways to increase the volume of trade to $100 billion and plans to lift visa requirements. The Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia is also likely to be on the agenda.


  • Iraq: Iraq has agreed with Turkey to to renew an accord to operate an oil pipeline from its northern oilfields near Kirkuk to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, a senior Iraqi oil official said on Wednesday.
    • "Iraq has approved to renew the Kirkuk-Ceyhan agreement after agreeing on some changes and amendments", Iraq's deputy oil minister, Ahmed al-Shamma, told Reuters.


  • China: Energy cooperation agreements were signed between Turkey and China during President Abdullah Gül's six-day visit to China in June 2009. This transaction marked the beginning of a new period between the two countries.
    • The Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooperation signed between the National Energy Administration of China and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Turkey in Beijing on June 25, 2009 is mainly a business agreement. It defined an energy-oriented road map and the scope of cooperation between the two countries.
    • According to the memorandum, the areas of cooperation include renewable energy, nuclear energy, energy conservation and efficiency, energy production systems manufacturing, modern technologies, boron technologies and hydrocarbon research and development.


  • Nabucco/Thursday: The partners in the planned Nabucco natural-gas pipeline to Europe will conclude a production-sharing agreement in April, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said Thursday. A Project Support Agreement, or PSA, will be clarified and then signed.
    • Reinhard Mitschek, a high-level executive with the project, said that an intergovernmental agreement had been signed for Nabucco in 2009 and that extremely crucial developments are expected this year. According to Mitschek, natural gas will start to flow through the pipeline in 2014.
    • Yıldız told lawmakers that the state-owned Turkish Pipeline Company, or BOTAŞ, and the Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO, could create partnerships with international firms. "Energy diplomacy is like chess. When you see a move, you have to make one as well," he said. Responding to a question about whether a new partner for the project was needed, Yıldız said Nabucco was an ever-developing project and would therefore always be open to new partnership deals. "However, the new partner needs be at a level where it can provide full support and contribute something valuable to the project," he added.

  9th International Oil and Gas Conference in Ankara
  • Turkey's energy and natural resources minister said that the crude oil pipeline agreement would be renewed with Iraq.



  • Speaking at the 9th International Oil and Gas Conference at Ankara's Sheraton Hotel, Taner Yıldız said, "there are big and significant natural gas and oil reserves in east of Turkey. Turkey shapes its energy policies and diplomacy by taking into consideration them. Projects for transportation of resources from the eastern countries to the western countries such as Nabucco and Turkey-Greece-Italy Natural Gas Pipeline have an important impact on our energy policies."
    • "The agreement about Kirkuk-Yumurtalik raw oil pipeline expired in March. We will sign a 15-20 year agreement with Iraq soon to renew the deal," he said.
  • Yıldız said that USA's Exxon Mobil Corp. and Brazil's Petrobras had joined a consortium with Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to find oil in the Black Sea. "We attach great importance to this project," he said.


  • The Black Sea, long seen as an important source of Turkey's fossil fuels, may have enough petroleum to cover Turkey's energy needs for the next 40 years.
    • Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) General Director Mehmet Uysal, speaking at the Ninth Turkish International Oil and Gas Conference (TUROGE 2010) on Tuesday, announced that according to their research, the amount of fossil fuel on Turkish soil is not enough to attract international attention but the potential under the Black Sea is different story.
    • State-owned Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) General Manager Fazıl Şenel, speaking at the same conference about natural gas consumption, a topic of much debate as the take-or-pay conditions imposed by natural gas exporters have left Turkey with a hefty energy bill, stated that meeting consumers' pre-crisis natural gas demand would take at least another three to five years -- putting natural gas producers in a difficult position.


    • Exxon: ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Turkey BV will commence oil exploration off Turkey's Black Sea coast in 2011 with a specially designed drillship, currently under construction in South Korea.
      • Speaking on Tuesday at the annual 9th Turkish Oil and Gas Conference in Ankara, Elwyn Griffiths, the vice president of the ExxonMobil exploration division, said they expected to "utilize a world-class drillship with superior ultra-deepwater technology in the Turkish Black Sea."

 
Military/Defense


  • The Finance Ministry has launched a probe into a tank modernization contract awarded to an Israeli firm after technical failures emerged in some of the modernized tanks delivered by the company.
    • A contract worth $687.5 for the modernization of 170 M60 tanks was awarded to Israel Military Industries (IMI) on March 29, 2002. Turkey paid over $4 million for the modernization of each tank. Although Turkey made its payments regularly to IMI, the company failed to finish the project by the final deadline, set for last October. The deadline for the delivery of the tanks had been changed several times before, and the company has recently delivered 100 out of the 170 modernized tanks.
  • Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül on Wednesday confirmed press reports that two inspectors from the Ministry of Finance have begun conducting an investigation over allegations concerning the modernization of 170 US-made M60 A1 tanks by Israel's IMI. Inspectors acting on a tip have been examining the tender process on the M60 tanks.
  • The chief of Israeli Defense Forces traveled to Turkey on Monday to take part in an international NATO conference along with military commanders from around the world. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi is also set to meet with Turkey's National Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül and Turkish General Staff Chief Gen. İlker Başbuğ.
  • The US air forces commander defined on Wednesday the İncirlik base in Turkey's southern province of Adana as a pivotal base. Also speaking in the session, Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of US Central Command, said Turkish Armed Forces were operating with considerable skill, and very impressively in Afghanistan.

 
EU Relations
  • Stefan Füle-EU commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy: I will be in Turkey tomorrow for my first official visit since the beginning of my mandate as European commissioner for enlargement. Bringing Turkey closer to the EU is amongst my highest priorities as commissioner. As I said during my hearings in the European Parliament in January, when asked if I could imagine a country like Turkey in the EU, my answer remains the same: Yes, I can.
  • Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has reiterated his government's demand that the European Union lift visa requirements for Turkish nationals traveling to EU member countries, saying agreements signed by the EU and Turkey necessitate that Turks be exempted from visas.
  • Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has urged the European Union to seek more influence in the South Caucasus and the Middle East, regions where Ankara already considers itself to be a major player.

 
PM Erdoğan's UK visit



  • Turkey's prime minister said Tuesday there was no definite report showing that Iran would acquire nuclear weapons.
    • In an interview with British broadcaster BBC's Nik Gowing, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Iran had consistently stated that it was seeking to use nuclear energy for civilian purposes. Erdoğan said it was not right to manipulate the issue as if "Iran desired to possess nuclear weapons".
    • Noting he had personally warned Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad several times and told him that Turkey did not want any nuclear weapons in its region, Erdoğan said the Iranian leader said that his country did not have an intention to produce nuclear weapons.
    • Asked about the votes in an interview with the BBC Turkish service that was broadcast late on Tuesday, Mr. Erdogan said: "There are currently 170,000 Armenians living in our country. Only 70,000 of them are Turkish citizens, but we are tolerating the remaining 100,000. If necessary, I may have to tell these 100,000 to go back to their country because they are not my citizens."
  • Turkish State Minister for foreign trade Zafer Çağlayan said that Britain promised to exert more efforts as a mediator to help Turkey overcome the obstacles during EU membership talks. He added that Britain had undertaken a serious mediation role in a number of issues during Turkey's EU membership talks.

 
Cyprus issue
  • Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) President Mehmet Ali Talat will meet with Turkish President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during a working visit to Ankara on Wednesday, KKTC Presidency spokesman Hasan Erçakıca said during a routine briefing. Stating that the talks with Turkish officials will focus heavily on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem, Erçakıca also said the KKTC president will discuss issues related to Spain's international initiatives on finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.
  • Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias said on Thursday he would not seek re-election in 2013 if a peace deal was not reached on the ethnically split island. On the same day, weeks ahead of a presidential election in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat was continuing to have talks in the Turkish capital.

 
Turkey/Israel relations


  • Turkish and Israeli observers meeting in İstanbul have agreed that the happy days between Turkey and Israel are over as there have been changes in both countries, and public suspicions will remain even if some improvement in relations is achieved.
    • During a roundtable discussion of the Turkish Policy Quarterly on Thursday, one academic from Israel said the anger and disappointment in Israel is "too deep." The meeting's participants agreed to abide by the Chatham House Rule, which stipulates the confidentiality of the source of information obtained at the meeting. The Israeli participants also complained about criticism of Jewish people in general, not Israel's policies, by Turkish politicians and media.

 
Other
  • Turkish diplomats, distressed by the deadlock on the divided island of Cyprus, up-and-downs in the EU accession process and diplomatic rows stemming from the Armenian 'genocide' resolutions, are stepping up public diplomacy efforts at home.
  • Wednesday's call for the suspension of prolonged talks over a possible stand-by deal by both the Turkish government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is considered a breakthrough in the Turkish economy, marking the beginning of a new era in 49 years of relations with the fund, observers agree.
  • Uğur Akkuş, the group president of Şems Foreign Trade Industry Ltd., the official consultants of Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah IV al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah in Turkey, has said preparations to launch three or four giant projects in Turkey worth $3 billion will be completed shortly.
  • The Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD) has called off a trip to the US scheduled for March 16-17, arguing that it would be tainted by current tension between Ankara and Washington.
Turkey and Cameroon on Tuesday signed an agreement on mutual visa exemption for holders of official passports as well as a protocol on technical, scientific and economic cooperation.

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