Posts Tagged ‘Erdogan’

U.S. State Department in talks with Turkey to sell Patriot system

July 16, 2018

The U.S. State Department is negotiating a potential deal to sell Turkey the Raytheon Co Patriot missile defense system as an alternative to the Russian-made S-400 system Turkey has agreed to purchase, an official said on Monday.

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. soldiers stand beside a U.S. Patriot missile system at a Turkish military base in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey, October 10, 2014.. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

U.S. Ambassador Kaidanow, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, told reporters that a delegation of U.S. government officials at the Farnborough Airshow was holding meetings with allies in the hopes of bolstering U.S. defense trade.

She said the U.S. State Department was in talks with Turkey and “trying to give the Turks an understanding of what we can do with respect to Patriot.” She did not say if the delegations were meeting at the air show.

Turkey has attracted criticism from NATO allies over its planned purchase of the S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, which could jeopardize Ankara’s purchase of Lockheed Martin made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.

“Ultimately we are concerned that by purchasing these systems from the Russians it will be supportive of some of the least good behavior that we have seen from them (Russia) in various places including Europe but also elsewhere,” Kaidanow said.

She said Washington wanted to ensure that systems acquired by U.S. allies “remain supportive of the strategic relationship between us and our allies, in the case of Turkey that is Patriots.”

In April, the Trump administration rolled out a long-awaited overhaul of U.S. arms export policy aimed at expanding sales to allies, saying it would bolster the American defense industry and create jobs at home.

Reporting by Mike Stone in Farnborough; Editing by Mark Potter



Assad regime forces targeting Idlib could destroy Astana accord, Erdoğan warns Putin

July 15, 2018

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Saturday told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that the accord aimed at containing the Syrian conflict would be destroyed if Assad regime forces advance towards Idlib.

In a phone call with Putin, Erdoğan said the regime attacks on Syrian civilians in Daraa were “worrying” and warned against expanding the attacks to Idlib.

The Turkish president also said encouraging the Syrian opposition to attend the upcoming Astana talks on July 30-31 is important to prevent negative developments in Idlib.

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The two leaders agreed to have a bilateral meeting at the BRICS meeting in Johannesburg.

Starting June 19, regime and Russian bombardment pounded opposition areas in Daraa and in the neighboring province of Quneitra, ostensibly protected by an internationally agreed ceasefire.

The onslaught came to an end with the July 6 ceasefire.

Regime forces now hold more than 80 percent of Daraa province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor that relies on a network of sources inside the country.

Syria’s conflict has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011.

Fitch downgrades Turkey’s debt rating to ‘BB’

July 14, 2018

International credit rating agency Fitch Friday downgraded Turkey’s long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) to ‘BB’ from ‘BB+’ and changed the outlook to “negative” from “stable.”

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The report said widening current account deficit (CAD), rising inflation and the impact of the deterioration in exchange rate on the private sector poses risks to macroeconomic stability.

Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said Friday that the new government’s economic action plan prioritizes steps to reduce inflation and devise fiscal policies that will contribute in the fight against inflation.

In a separate statement, Albayrak assured the markets that the independence of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) and its decision-making mechanisms cannot be the subjects of speculation.

The report said a sustained reduction of inflation would require an increase in the credibility and independence of monetary policy and tolerance of a period of weaker economic growth.

Fitch experts forecasted the CAD to widen to 6.1% of GDP in 2018, driven by higher fuel prices and higher household consumption. The fall in the lira, combined with Fitch’s forecast of lower oil prices and the ongoing tourism recovery, will cause the deficit to narrow to 4.1% in 2019.

The agency said Turkey’s moderate government debt is a strength and it forecasted to remain as a government debt ratio stands at 28.1 percent of GDP, which is well below the current peer median of 44.5%.

“Debt/revenue of 83.8% was almost half the current peer median, reflecting the large revenue base. Contingent liabilities, which are rising from a low base (driven primarily by PPPs), are unlikely to have a material impact on public finances over the forecast period, but pose a risk over the medium term.”

“Turkey is a large and diversified economy with a vibrant private sector. Human Development and Doing Business indicators as measured by the World Bank, are in excess of the ‘BB’ median. GDP per capita is double the peer median, although the volatility of economic growth is well in excess of peers reflecting a vulnerability to regular domestic and external shocks.”

NATO leaders embrace reality, welcome Erdoğan

July 13, 2018

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made his international debut at NATO as the leader of Turkey’s new presidential system on Wednesday. The alliance leaders gave Erdoğan a very warm welcome and promised added momentum in the fight against terrorism in the south, with special emphasis on Turkey.

Flanked by Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu and the new Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the former chief of staff of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), Erdoğan was the center of attention.

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Scenes of President Donald Trump embracing Erdoğan, Erdoğan having warm discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Teresa May as well as other leaders hit the international media, demonstrating that Western leaders have realized that the democratically elected Turkish leader has massive popular support and is here to stay.

It is clear that the climate in Europe against the Erdoğan administration has started to change in a positive way. So far, so good.

That was reflected in the NATO summit communique, which put special emphasis on Turkey’s security concerns and the ongoing threat of terrorism, especially on its southern borders.

“We remain concerned that Turkey has been hit three times in the last four years by missiles launched from Syria. We continue to monitor and assess the ballistic missile threat from Syria,” the NATO declaration said. Pointing to Syria’s inventory of short-range ballistic missiles, the declaration said the range of these missiles “covers part of NATO’s territory and some of our partners’ territories.”

NATO also vowed to provide Turkey with “tailored assurance measures” aimed at guaranteeing the alliance’s security. “Tailored assurance measures for Turkey to respond to the growing security challenges from the south contribute to the security of the alliance as a whole and will be fully implemented,” the declaration said. “We have increased the strength of the NATO Response Force, and the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) is ready to deploy on short notice,” it added.

The fact that Turkey is preparing to take on a new and bigger role in the transatlantic alliance with its command of the VJFT in 2021 – along with France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Britain – shows Ankara is strongly entrenched in Western defense; thus, the claims that Turkey is steering away from the West are nonsense.

Turkey has and will always contribute to the Western defense system with all its assets and resources; yet, unfortunately the attitude of some Western countries has been to keep Turkey at a distance, forcing Ankara to step back and reason with them. The efforts of some Western countries to oust Erdoğan have alienated not only the Ankara administration but also the Turkish people.

Let’s hope this trend is now in the past and that a new chapter is set to begin.

By İlnur Çevik

Turkey’s Gulen movement on the rise in Germany

July 13, 2018

After Turkey’s foiled coup attempt in 2016, many supporters of exiled Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen were driven out of the country. But in Germany, the movement is increasingly gaining influence, writes Gunnar Köhne.

Fethullah Gulen (picture-alliance/dpa/Fgulen.Com)

When the Turkish government crushed an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric in self-imposed exile in the United States. There were plenty of rumors about Gulen’s involvement in the incident, yet the authorities in Ankara have so far failed to present conclusive evidence to prove this.

It is undisputed, however, that Gulen supporters previously held many positions in the Turkish state apparatus, which they used to their own advantage, and which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) tolerated. That is, until Erdogan and Gulen had a falling out.

Read moreFrom ally to scapegoat: Fethullah Gulen, the man behind the myth

After Turkey’s foiled coup, Erdogan ordered an unprecedented purge of the state apparatus. Some 100,000 civil servants were fired and 40,000 jailed. Most of these individuals are suspected members or sympathizers of the Gulen movement, or Hizmet. Tens of thousands were forced to flee the country. Many of the 800 Gulen-affiliated schools across the world, and in Turkey, were forced to close. Turkish authorities pressured Muslim countries in particular, such as Kosovo and Malaysia, to shut down these schools and expel Turkish teachers.

German authorities indifferent

In Germany, meanwhile, the situation is much more hospitable for Gulen supporters. They enjoy wide-ranging support from German media, political figures and even the country’s Christian churches, as DW research reveals. Above all, Gulen supporters are seen as victims of Erdogan’s relentless purge — even though Gulen himself espouses a rather conservative version of Islam that champions “an islamization of life and all its institutions,” as he writes in one of his books.

Read moreGermany investigates possible anti-Gulen spies

The German government has admitted that “the organizational structure of the Gulen movement is nontransparent.” Even so, Bruno Kahl, who heads the country’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, deems the movement an innocuous “civil association for the purpose of religious and secular education.”

Logo for the BND (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kappeler)Germany’s foreign intelligence service has deemed the Gulen movement an innocuous ‘civil association’

In 2014, Rhineland-Palatinate’s then-state interior minister, Roger Lewentz, initiated the creation of a working group linking various state-level intelligence services to look into the Gulen movement. It found “a lack of evidence to suggest the movement poses a threat to Germany’s political order.” Nevertheless, Lewentz underlined that Gulen’s publications contained controversial passages regarding “religious freedom, what role religion should be play in public life, and the treatment of atheists.”

Read moreA dark time for democracy in Turkey

That same year, Baden-Württemberg’s state intelligence service published a comprehensive and critical report about the Gulen movement on its website. Following Turkey’s foiled coup, the report was taken down. Asked for an explanation for this, the agency told DW the report had never been intended for the public. It is hard to believe, however, that nobody noticed a supposedly confidential report with politically sensitive information had mistakenly been put online for two years. A more plausible explanation is provided by the Baden-Württemberg state parliamentary party of the conservative Christian Democratic Union. It claims that following the Turkish coup attempt, Turkish authorities had used the intelligence report to pressure their German counterparts to crack down on the Gulen movement.

In hiding in Germany?

Ulla Jelpke, a member of the Left Party who holds a seat in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, accuses the government of protecting the Gulen movement and even those members suspected of having committed crimes in Turkey. Jelpke belongs to the Bundestag’s Committee on Internal Affairs and Community and has filed numerous inquiries into the government’s handling of the Gulen movement. While critical of the movement, she opposes extraditing its members to Turkey because they would not be guaranteed a fair trial. “But we could take them to court here,” she said.

Ulla Jelpke (picture alliance/dpa/B. von Jutrczenka)Left MP Jelpke says the German government is protecting Gulen supporters

Turkey claims large numbers of those responsible for the coup attempt fled to Germany in the summer of 2016. In June, Turkish newspapers published the Berlin address of Adil Oksuz, an alleged mastermind of the coup. He is accused of having commanded officers loyal to Gulen. Photographs prove he was present on an Ankara air force base during the night prior to the coup attempt. Turkish authorities have demanded he be extradited, but the German government says that while it has launched an investigation of its own, it is unaware of Oksuz’s whereabouts. According to German daily Frankfurter Rundschau, Berlin’s authorities have taken Oksuz to safety.

Back on the rise

The Gulen movement denies any involvement in acts of violence and stresses its only aim is to foster dialogue and education. It has seen its German support base shrink since the Turkish coup attempt. Three of 30 Gulen-affiliated schools across the country had to close because Turkish parents in particular opted to remove their children. And about half of all 170 German Gulen-affiliated private tuition institutions were shut. But a gradual reversal of this trend can now be observed. Wilhelmstadt high school, in Berlin’s Spandau district, has reported numbers of registered pupils are on the rise. Irfan Kumru, who heads the association running the school, also told DW several new child care centers are planned. “They are in great demand,” he said.

Read moreRecep Tayyip Erdogan: The sultan of 21st-century Turkey

That is because, among other things, the 14,000 Gulen sympathizers who fled to Germany will welcome schools and child care centers run by fellow Hizmet supporters. Not only that. A Berlin-based association of Gulen sympathizers called Refugee Support Action (Aktion für Flüchtlingshilfe) assists the new arrivals in legal matters, in finding language courses, jobs and places to live. Apparently, most of their asylum applications filed in Germany are successful.

Suspected Gulen supporter being taken to jail in Turkey (picture-alliance / Turkish government has jailed thousands of suspected Gulen supporters in the wake of the failed coup

‘Secret dual structure’

A former Gulen functionary, meanwhile, told German public broadcaster ARD the country’s authorities should not be deceived by the movement, which he likened to a “sect.” He claimed the Gulen movement is characterized by a “secret dual structure” with a facade that hides its true nature. “The real power lies with the imams, not those who head the associations,” the former Gulen figure explained. “The imams are brought in from Turkey using a variety of pretexts, pretending they are journalists or accountants.”

Hizmet intends to counter these accusations by making its inner-workings more transparent. Ercan Karakoyun, who heads the Foundation for Dialogue and Education (Stiftung Dialog und Bildung), has been working tirelessly to portray the Gulen movement to German media as a democratic alternative to Erdogan’s authoritarian state system.

Not even Germany’s churches seem concerned about the Gulen movement. The Protestant Church, for instance, enlisted Gulen members to join Berlin’s planned “House of One” project, where Jews, Christians and Muslims will be able to worship side by side under one roof. And Germany’s Catholic Herder publishing house has been selling books by Gulen and his followers for many years. The publisher told DW that Gulen “organizes and guarantees a certain number of books are printed and sold.” In other worlds: Gulen pays for Herder to publish the books. Unsurprising really, as Karakoyun explained, because “Germany is becoming our new hub.”


Markets batter Turkey as Erdogan predicts interest rate fall

July 11, 2018

The lira loses almost 3% against dollar as investors worry about economic management

By Laura Pitel in Istanbul and Adam Samson in London

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan predicted a fall in interest rates, as markets indicated concern about Turkey’s economic management. © Reuters

Turkish equities, bonds and the lira took a hammering on Wednesday as Recep Tayyip Erdogan predicted a fall in interest rates and investors fretted about the health of the country’s economy.

Asked about a slide in the Turkish lira since he unveiled his new cabinet at the start of the week, the newly re-elected Turkish president told journalists that a combined treasury and finance ministry headed by his son-in-law “will of course do whatever is necessary”, according to Hurriyet newspaper.
He added: “In the period ahead I believe that we will see that interest rates will also fall.”The lira, already down on the back of worse than expected current account deficit statistics, fell 2.9 per cent against the dollar compared with the previous day’s close, before rallying slightly. It fell as far as TL4.85 to the dollar — its lowest point since a currency crisis in May that was halted by an eleventh hour emergency interest rate rise by Turkey’s central bank.

Earlier on Wednesday, new figures showed that the country’s current account deficit climbed to $5.89bn in May. It was up from $5.45bn in April, and $5.37bn in May 2017, according to data from the central bank.Turkey must find around $200bn a year in foreign financing — most of it in the form of short-term “hot money” flows — to fund the current account deficit as well as maturing debt.


But foreign investors are worried about the management of Turkey’s $880bn economy under a powerful new executive presidency that came into force after last month’s elections and centralises power in the hands of Mr Erdogan.

Asked on Wednesday if there could be confusion caused by the new system, Mr Erdogan said: “No, it’s not possible . . . All the bodies and institutions are tied to me.”The Turkish president is a vocal opponent of high interest rates — a stance he has maintained despite warnings from investors that a rate rise is necessary for Turkish assets to retain their attractiveness and to tame annual inflation that topped 15 per cent in June.
Investor fears that Mr Erdogan will have a greater say in monetary and economic policy under the new governance model were compounded by the president’s decision to place Berat Albayrak, the 40-year-old husband of his daughter Esra, in charge of the economy brief.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Erdogan defended his choice, saying that Mr Albayrak, a former chief executive with an MBA from New York’s Pace University, had theoretical and practical experience in finance.
Turkish assets have come under pressure in the wake of the appointment. Its benchmark Borsa Istanbul 100 stock index was down more than 5 per cent at 4pm GMT on Wednesday. An index of Turkish bank stocks was down as much as 9 per cent amid fears that lenders could face a surge in bad debts if corporates struggle to service dollar and euro denominated loans.
The spread on Turkey’s 10-year dollar bond maturing in October 2028 rose to 4.48 percentage points above the equivalent US Treasury, up from 4 points on Monday and 3.37 points at issuance in April. A larger gap indicates a growing risk premium demanded by investors to hold the paper.

‘Playing with fire’: Lira tumbles after Erdogan cabinet picks — Son-in-law chosen to head treasury and finance ministry

July 10, 2018

Analysts unnerved after Turkish president picks son-in-law for key economic post

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announces his cabinet. © Getty

By Adam Samson in London

Turkey’s currency has fallen sharply from Monday’s peaks after President Erdogan’s decision to pick his son-in-law for a key financial role inflamed investor angst that the country will slide further away from economic orthodoxy.

The lira traded at TL4.69 in early London action, strengthening from lows of TL4.75 struck late in the New York trading day on Monday. But the currency has plummeted 3.9 per cent from this week’s high of TL4.512 hit less than 24 hours ago.

In fixed income, the price on Turkey’s 10-year foreign-currency bond maturing in October 2028 slipped to 93.8 cents on the US dollar, from 95.2 cents on Monday, according to Bloomberg data.

Piotr Matys, strategist at Rabobank, said that “the risk that Turkey could be heading for a full-scale currency crisis, after barely avoiding it only a few months ago when the lira was falling precipitously, has resurfaced.”

“[Mr Erdogan] is playing with fire putting his son-in-law in charge of the government coffers,” added Charles Robertson, chief economist at emerging market focused Renaissance Capital. “Who will be the voice of reason in his cabinet? The temptation to follow still more unorthodox policies is surely growing.”

This week’s tumult has come amid mounting angst over the policies that will enacted by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was inaugurated on Monday after last month’s election victory.

Analysts had been keenly awaiting the leader’s cabinet decision for clues on how Mr Erdogan will balance his own unorthodox economic views — including an aversion to high interest rates — with investor demands for a more mainstream approach.

The stakes for Turkey are high: strategists are increasingly concerned about the spectre of a hard landing for the economy. Inflation is running above 15 per cent, and expected to heat up further in coming months. The lira has tumbled 19 per cent for the year to date, leaving it as one of the worst performing emerging market currencies during a period that has broadly been bearish for the asset class.

Mr Erdogan’s move to appoint Berat Albayrak, husband of his daughter, to head Turkey’s powerful new treasury and finance ministry has only added to fears that the president will pursue a policy of high growth with little concern over causing the economy to overheat.

That concern was sharpened after it became clear that former Turkish deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek, one of the most prominent figures in Turkey’s orthodox economic wing, would not be given a cabinet post.

Mr Matys said:

By giving Mr Albayrak such a prominent role at such a crucial time for Turkey and ousting market friendly Simsek and [former finance minister Naci Agbal], President Erdogan reignited market concerns that the new administration may implement unorthodox policies, which include lowering inflation by cutting interest rates.

Esther Maria Reichelt, analyst at Commerzbank, added that investors should not have been surprised that Mr Erdogan would have taken “direct control of crucial policy areas immediately, and without much involvement of qualified domain experts.”

She added: “ . . . in all likelihood, much more [currency] volatility awaits.”

Turkey sacks 18,500 state employees in new decree

July 8, 2018

Turkish authorities ordered the dismissal of more than 18,500 state employees including police officers, soldiers and academics, in a decree published on Sunday.

The Official Gazette said 18,632 people had been sacked including 8,998 police officers in the emergency decree over suspected links to terror organisations and groups that “act against national security”.

Some 3,077 army soldiers were also dismissed as well as 1,949 air force personnel and 1,126 from the naval forces.

© AFP | Turkey has been under a state of emergency since the July 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Another 1,052 civil servants from the justice ministry and linked institutions have been fired as well as 649 from the gendarmerie and 192 from the coast guard.

Authorities also sacked 199 academics, according to the new decree, while 148 state employees from the military and ministries were reinstated.

Turkey has been under a state of emergency since the July 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish media dubbed the decree as the “last” with officials indicating the state of emergency could end as early as Monday.

The emergency has been renewed seven times and the latest period is officially due to end on July 19.

Over 110,000 public sector employees have been removed previously from their jobs via emergency decrees since July 2016 while tens of thousands more have been suspended in a crackdown criticised by Ankara’s Western allies.

Turkey accuses US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the attempted coup. The majority of those fired under the emergency are accused of links to Gulen.

The government refers to the movement as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation”. Gulen strongly denies any coup links and insists his movement is a peaceful organisation.

Sunday’s decree shut down 12 associations across the country as well as three newspapers and a television channel.

Human rights defenders including Amnesty International have lambasted the purges as arbitrary but Turkey says they are necessary to remove the Gulen movement’s infiltration of state bodies.

Earlier this year, the government said more than 77,000 people had been arrested over alleged links to Gulen.


Turkey’s steel exports up by 34 pct despite Trump’s additional tariffs

July 6, 2018

The Turkish iron and steel industry is expanding its presence in world market. It has continued to increase exports despite additional U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. Industry exports surged by 34 percent and 22 percent in June and in the first half of this year, respectively.

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Turkey, one of the world’s largest steel exporters, increased its total exports by 34 percent in June due to a strong performance in other markets, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s additional tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

According to Turkey Exporters’ Assembly (TİM) data, exports of steel products surged by 34 percent in June this year to $1.2 billion and by 22 percent in the January-June period to $7.1 billion compared to the same period last year.

While the highest steel exports were made to Italy and Spain in the first half of the year, the United States, which ranked first last year, tumbled to third place. Exports to the European Union and the Middle East, the traditional markets of the sector, continued to increase significantly.

Yalçın Ertan, chairman of the Aegean Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals Exporters’ Association, said that with the iron and steel producers in China turning their attention to domestic demand since March 2016, the Turkish iron and steel industry has increased its influence in the world markets and that they had a good year in terms of profitability and turnover in the sector.

Following the new customs duty decision issued by the U.S. President Donald Trump to “protect domestic industry,” steel product exports to the country were down 30 percent to $71.5 million in June and down 42 percent to $421 million in the first six months of the year.

Companies that lowered their exports to a great extent in April and May following March, when the tariff decision went into effect, entered a recovery period together with June.

Pointing out that after the U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Section 232” decision, 25 percent customs duty was introduced on steel and 10 percent on aluminum in March, and that this news led to a pessimistic approach in the sector, Ertan said there was a fear of losing about 2.4 million tons of the U.S. market significantly.

He noted the sector continued to increase its total exports in spite of this decision, recovering from the shock in the U.S. market in a short period.

Recalling that it was not possible to sell to this country in March when the additional tariff was put into effect and which caused the figures to drop rapidly, Ertan said as the production in the U.S. domestic market remained insufficient, prices started to rise rapidly. He stressed that prices in the U.S. came to such a level over the past 15-20 days that they could export again if they put the additional tax.

“We can be competitive even if we put additional tax over the worldwide sales price of $500-550. We will start to see these figures in our statistics in the coming period,” Ertan continued.

“So, even if it is not 2.4 million tons, I think we will export 1.5 million tons until the end of the year. The additional tax decision had a four-month impact on us. We cannot ship at the desired pace, but we will start shipping goods in quantities close to the former figures.”


He also noted that the rapid recovery of Turkish iron and steel sector in the U.S. market is due to the importance attached to product quality and timely delivery.

“Additional taxes are applied to all countries except South Korea and Australia. Competition is under equal conditions. If we produce better steel and at better prices, of course they will prefer our goods,” Ertan said. “The U.S. had already preferred our goods. We quickly adapted to the new conditions. If there is no change in tax measures from now on, we can say that this trend will continue until the end of the year.” The sector has recently moved to South American countries such as Ecuador, Panama and Chile besides the traditional markets like Israel, Egypt and Libya, Ertan noted, pointing to the positive results achieved in the Far East, suggesting that they expect the iron and steel industry to close the year with good results with the contribution of flat steel.

Ankara announced earlier that it will start imposing tariffs on nearly two dozen U.S. products, ranging from cars to sunscreen as of June 21, in response to the additional steel and aluminum tariffs enacted by Washington.

According to documents filed with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in March, Turkey slapped $267 million in tariffs on $1.8 billion worth of products that the U.S. exports to Turkey. Later last month, the country decided to further increase the additional tariff rates on some of the goods imported from the United States.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data, Turkey exported approximately $13.8 billion in steel and steel goods last year, while $1.2 billion, about 9 percent of exports, were made to the U.S.

Expanded powers, smaller cabinet for Turkey’s Erdogan

July 6, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be sworn in for a second term Monday, and will wield hefty new constitutional powers as he oversees a radically different system of government.

The changes, agreed in a 2017 referendum but most of which are only coming into force after Erdogan’s June 24 election victory, mark one of the most radical shifts in modern Turkey’s political system.

But critics say the changes, which were championed by Erdogan, pave the way to one-man rule.

How does the new system look and how will it work?

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– Boosted powers –

Under the new 18-article constitution, the president has strengthened executive powers and can directly appoint top public officials, including ministers.

Erdogan can also assign one or several vice presidents, with reports indicating he may choose at least three.

The office and position of prime minister, currently held by Binali Yildirim, will be scrapped from Monday.

The president and parliament will together also be able to choose four members of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), a key judicial council that appoints and removes personnel in the judiciary.

Parliament can choose seven members on its own in what will be renamed the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK).

Military courts — one of which sentenced former prime minister Adnan Menderes to death following a 1960 coup — will be abolished.

– Ministries cut –

In a bid to create a more streamlined government, there are expected to be 16 ministries, down from the current 26. The new cabinet will be announced on Monday evening.

Multiple ministries will be merged. The European Union affairs ministry will be absorbed into the foreign ministry, while retaining its name and apparatus.

And the economy ministry will be merged with the customs and trade ministry to form a new heavyweight trade ministry.

There will also be nine powerful committees under the presidency covering technology, education, economy, foreign policy, rights, culture, health, social policy and local issues.

Another eight distinct bodies reporting to Erdogan will cover national issues: state auditing, national security, intelligence, armed forces, defence industry, religion, communications and budget.

– State of emergency –

Under the new constitution, a state of emergency will be imposed in the event of an “uprising against the homeland” or “acts of violence which put the nation in… danger of being divided”.

The president will decide whether or not to impose a state of emergency and then present it to parliament.

Initially, the emergency would last six months — as opposed to three now — and could be extended by parliament for a further four months at a time if requested by the president.

Turkey has extended the current state of emergency, imposed after the failed 2016 coup, seven times. The latest emergency ends on July 19. Before the elections, Erdogan promised to lift the state of emergency if he won.

– Parliament –

The new Turkish parliament has 600 MPs, up from 550 lawmakers previously. The minimum age for MPs has also been lowered from 25 to 18.

Legislative elections will now take place once every five years — instead of four — and on the same day as elections for the president.

The parliament will still have the power to enact, modify and remove legislation. If the president were accused or suspected of a crime, then parliament could request an investigation, after obtaining a three-fifths majority of the assembly members.

The president, under the new rules, will not be able to issue decrees on subjects already clearly regulated by law.

– Erdogan until 2028? –

The president, who can now be a member of a political party under the changes, serves a five-year term with a maximum of two terms.

After the changes were approved last year, Erdogan returned to lead the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) he co-founded in 2001.

Erdogan, 64, was elected president in August 2014 after over a decade as prime minister, in the first-ever direct elections for a Turkish head of state.

But with the clock wound back under the new system, the changes would mean that Erdogan could stay in power for another two terms until 2028.