Posts Tagged ‘President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’

Turkey Election Campaign Heats Up: Daily Sabah Says CHP’s İnce, if elected, will work with war criminal Assad

June 12, 2018

Daily Sabah

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Muharrem İnce, the CHP’s presidential candidate, gives a speech at a rally as part of his election campaign.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition CHP, signaled for closer relations with the countries in the region, including the Assad regime, if their candidate Muharrem İnce becomes president. He also blamed Washington and Moscow for the upheaval in the Middle East

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that their presidential candidate Muharrem İnce will visit Middle Eastern countries, including Syria’s Bashar Assad regime, to bring peace to the region if he wins the elections on June 24. Speaking at a meeting of the Union of Chambers of Merchants and Craftsmen in eastern Malatya province, Kılıçdaroğlu said that they are determinant to establish a “Middle East Peace and Cooperation Organization” with Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran, adding that this is only way to stop bloodshed in the region.

After civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, the Assad regime has not been considered a legal representative of the Syrian people by many countries including the U.S., U.K, EU and several regional powers. They have frequently reiterated that Assad has no place in Syria’s future and called for a transition period that leads to a democratic election to form a new government in the war-torn country. Assad is blamed for the death of hundreds of thousands of Syrians since the beginning of the civil war.

The CHP previously expressed necessity of talks with Assad several times. In February, in his address at the CHP’s parliamentary group meeting, Kılıçdaroğlu called on the government to establish contact with the Assad regime to resolve the conflict in Syria.

Also, while announcing the 230-page election declaration in May, Kılıçdaroğlu said, “After stability is ensured in Syria and non-state actors are disarmed, we will support a political solution where the Syrian people will be able to make decisions on their own.”

While the CHP calls for establishing contact and talks with Assad, the government has been against it, saying that Assad needs to be removed and replaced by a democratically elected government.

In response to Kılıçdaroğlu’s call over the issue, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in February that Turkey will not contact or sit at the table with Assad.

“What will we talk about with a murderer who has killed one million of his citizens,” the president said.

During his speech in Malatya, Kılıçdaroğlu also blamed the U.S. and Russia for inciting violence in the Middle East by providing weapons to warring sides.

“They [the U.S. and Russia] say ‘let’s kill each other.’ Why we would let them?” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

In February, Kılıçdaroğlu called the government to get rid of “the yoke of the U.S. and Russia,” saying that the two powers were the main source of weapons in Syria and urged the government to pursue dialogue with its neighbors instead of imperial powers.

The CHP’s presidential candidate also embraced an anti-U.S. rhetoric in his election campaign. In May, İnce vowed to shut down the U.S.’ Incirlik Air Base by Christmas unless the U.S. extradites the leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), Fetullah Gülen, who is accused by Ankara of perpetrating the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

“If you [the United States] don’t hand him back, we will shut down Incirlik and send back U.S. soldiers on Dec. 24 and they can celebrate Christmas with their families,” İnce said.

The Syrian civil war erupted in 2011 when the Assad regime harshly responded to protesters who had poured into the streets to demand more rights and freedom. The protests initially emerged following the Arab Spring demonstrations that resulted in strongmen in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya stepping down.

The cruelty against protesters triggered a rebellion in significant parts of the country, turning into a brutal civil war before long. So far an estimated 500,000 people have been killed in the war. Around six million people have been displaced internally and another five million were driven abroad as refugees.

With the backing of Russia and Iran, the Assad regime recently recovered swathes of territories and now controls the majority of Syria. Yet, regime forces still have tracts of land that remain outside of their authority at the borders with Iraq, Jordan and Turkey, three of its five neighboring countries.


Turkey hikes interest rate again as vote looms

June 7, 2018

The Turkish central bank on Thursday hiked interest rates for the second time in two weeks, prompting the lira to rally strongly with elections on the horizon.

The 125 basis point (bps) headline interest rate hike comes after the bank raised its emergency rate by 300 bps on May 23.

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On Thursday the bank said it would raise the one-week repo rate to 17.75 percent from 16.5 percent, after a monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting.

The one-week repo rate has been the bank’s policy rate since June 1, after a long-awaited overhaul of its interest rates.

The lira surged after the bank’s announcement at 1100 GMT, gaining 1.7 percent against the dollar to reach 4.48 after previous record lows last month.

Before the bank’s move, the lira was at 4.58 against the greenback. Since January, the lira has lost over 18 percent against the dollar and over six percent in the past month.

The hikes come despite repeated calls for lower interest rates by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has called interest rates the “mother and father of all evil”.

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The bank’s decision to raise rates was hoped for by the markets after the inflation rate jumped in May from 10.85 percent to 12.15 percent from the same period last year.

The bank said in a statement that the “tight stance” in monetary policy would be maintained until “inflation outlook displays significant improvement”.

“If needed, further monetary tightening will be delivered,” the bank added.

Timothy Ash, senior emerging markets sovereign strategist at BlueBay Asset Management, said the decision “should help improve sentiment, and stabilise the market a bit into the elections”.

Turks will vote in parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24 in a surprisingly tight contest, with Erdogan seeking a second mandate as president.



Turkey lira hits new historic lows after Fitch warning

May 22, 2018

Turkey’s embattled currency, the lira, on Tuesday hit new historic lows against the US dollar after Fitch ratings agency expressed concerns over the central bank’s independence in the wake of comments by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Fitch said that comments by Erdogan last week that he plans to have a greater say in monetary policy if he wins June elections raised the possibility of economic policy becoming more unpredictable after the polls.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV while on a visit to London, Erdogan signalled he wanted to take greater control over monetary and economic policy even if this “may make some uncomfortable”

“An explicit threat to curb the central bank’s independence increases risks to the policymaking environment and to policy effectiveness,” Fitch said in a statement.

It warned that the president’s comments raised the possibility of “overall economic policy, not just monetary policy, becoming less predictable after the elections.”

After the statement, the Turkish lira hit 4.65 against the dollar after 1300 GMT, a loss of 1.7 percent before it slightly pared back some of its losses to reach 4.63 before 1400 GMT.

The lira has lost over 14.9 percent of its value against the greenback in the past month

Erdogan has called for low interest rates to ensure strong growth.

And he often calls for lower rates to help reduce double-digit inflation, a position that flies in the face of economic orthodoxy. Inflation is currently at 10.85 percent.

The bank’s next monetary policy meeting is on June 7, but there have been calls on the bank by economists to hold an emergency meeting before then and implement a sharp rate hike before it’s too late to have any effect.

Fitch, which like other global ratings agencies currently assesses Turkish sovereign debt as deep into junk status, warned that erosion of the central bank’s independence would put “further pressure on Turkey’s sovereign credit profile.”

It said that after the elections “tougher global financing conditions will test the vulnerability created by Turkey’s large external financing requirement.”


Erdogan: UN ‘finished’ after failing to act over Gaza killings

May 18, 2018

Turkey will evacuate Palestinians wounded by Israel’s use of deadly force, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.

Erdogan has accused Israel of being a 'terrorist state', saying it's committing 'genocide' against Palestinians [Presidential Press Service via AP]
Erdogan has accused Israel of being a ‘terrorist state’, saying it’s committing ‘genocide’ against Palestinians [Presidential Press Service via AP]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United Nations “collapsed” when faced with Israeli security forces killing more than 60 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during protests earlier this week.

Speaking on Wednesday in the Turkish capital, Ankara, Erdogan described the UN as “finished” because of its lack of response to Israel’s continued use of deadly force against demonstrators in the besieged coastal enclave.

On Monday, Israeli forces killed more than 60 Palestinian protesters along Gaza’s fence with Israel as tens of thousands of people rallied as part of the Great March of Return, and against the opening of a new US embassy in Jerusalem.

More than 2,700 others were wounded as soldiers fired live ammunition and tear gas at those who had assembled.

Erdogan accused Israel of “tyranny” and said Turkey would evacuate those injured from Gaza, where hospital facilities are reportedly at a breaking point.

Israel maintains its forces use of live fire is in line with both domestic and international law, arguing the demonstrations are part of the country’s conflict with Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.

International condemnation

A number of international leaders, however, have denounced Israel’s use of force.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Israel was “blasphemous” in referring to protesters killed along the Gaza border as “terrorists”.

“I cannot agree with the fact that dozens of peaceful civilians, including children and infants who were killed in these incidents, were terrorists. This is a blasphemous statement,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

Since last month, the Israeli army has killed 111 Palestinians and wounded more than 12,000 others.

Lavrov’s comments follow Turkey and South Africa’s decision to recall their ambassadors to Israel earlier this week. Ankara has also expelled Israel’s ambassador to Turkey temporarily.


Turkey presence gets mixed welcome in Balkans — “Republika Srpska is not Turkey”

May 18, 2018

In the cafes of Novi Pazar, a predominantly Muslim town in southern Serbia, Turkish football clubs Fenerbahce or Galatasaray stir more emotion than Belgrade’s Red Star or Partizan.

It is just one sign of Turkey’s growing presence in the Balkans, where many have doubts over what their Ottoman-era master has in mind for the region.

“Since the end of the (Cold War) world, Turkey has had a very active policy in the Balkans,” says Jean Marcou, an associate researcher at the French Institute of Anatolian Studies in Istanbul.

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic welcomes his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan

“Turkey contributed to the stabilisation of conflicts” that tore apart the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and to “efforts to reconstruct different countries,” Marcou told AFP.

On that count, there is a sense of gratitude, but an assertive President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants Turkey to play a major role in the world and especially in its former sphere of influence.

The Ottomans controlled the Balkans from the 14th to the 19th century. They drew top public servants and leaders from the volatile region to help run an empire which stretched up to modern-day Austria and Hungary, and across North Africa and the Middle East.

On Sunday, Erdogan holds a rally in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo to drum up support among the Turkish diaspora for the snap elections he called for June 24.

Last month, Muslim-populated Novi Pazar even made the Turkish president an honorary citizen.

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Analysts said Erdogan’s “neo-Ottomanism” did not sit well with everyone in a region where membership of the European Union is seen as the way forward.

For the Balkan nations “who intend to enter the EU, Turkey currently cannot serve as a model,” said Enver Robelli, a Switzerland-based analyst.

– ‘Erdogan rules Kosovo’ –

Turkey has been trying to join the EU for years but its own membership bid has got bogged down in recriminations over Erdogan’s record on human rights and democratic norms, especially after a failed coup in 2016.

In March, Turkey mounted an operation with Kosovo intelligence services — apparently without clearance from the courts — to repatriate six people it said belonged to the US-based movement of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the coup.

“Erdogan rules Kosovo,” the GazetaExpress local news website wrote at the time. Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said the operation was “unacceptable and contrary to our values.”

He dismissed Kosovo’s interior minister and spy chief over their involvement, sparking a tart response from Erdogan.

“Hey Kosovo’s prime minister, under whose instruction did you take such a step? ” Erdogan said.

– ‘Vassal’ policy –

Similar indignation was seen in Bosnia in February when Sarajevo dropped plans to proclaim Turkish Nobel literature laureate Orhan Pamuk an honorary citizen.

Claiming the move was prompted by “fear … of Erdogan,” the opposition denounced what they called the authorities’ “vassal policy.”

The weight of history breeds suspicion in Serbia, an Orthodox Christian nation.

At Bosnian Serb political rallies, chants that their entity of “Republika Srpska is not Turkey” can be heard.

Marcou said that despite the strains, the “Turkey-Serbia partnership was eventually safeguarded, reinvigorated in particular by the Russian-Turkish rapprochement, starting in 2016.”

For Belgrade, it “is a boon, especially on the economic level,” he said.

Serbian Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic said recently “there is not a week without a Turkish investor arriving in Serbia.”

His country is already home to about 400 Turkish companies. This month Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic made a stop in Turkey on his way to Moscow.

Turkish companies control Pristina airport and plan to build one in Vlore, in southern Albania.

Turkish firms also own the Kosovo KEDS/KESCO power firm and are favourites to build the planned Belgrade-Sarajevo highway.

– Funds for mosques –

According to Marcou, the Turks are not in the Balkans “only to help economic development, but also to rehabilitate the Ottoman heritage and establish cultural cooperation”.

Some 10,000 students in around 150 Bosnian schools learn Turkish, which is the third foreign language behind English and German.

Turks have funded the mosque in Mitrovica, Kosovo’s biggest, with two million euros ($2.4 million).

They also spent 30 million euros for a mosque in Tirana, planned to become the most important place of worship for Balkan Muslims later this year.

For Robelli, Ankara exerts “real influence.”

“Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania and Macedonia are considered former territories of the Ottoman empire and are treated as part of the neo-Ottoman world,” he said.

“One should have no illusions,” Robelli added. “Kosovo is not in a position, like Germany, to resist Turkish pressure.”


Turkey slams US court’s sentence for Turkish banker, says trial based on ‘fake evidence’

May 17, 2018

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday a U.S. court’s sentencing of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a banker at Turkish state-lender Halkbank, to 32 months in prison was not legitimate or credible due to fake evidence and incorrect statements during the trial.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Bloomberg that Atilla was “definitely innocent.”

Daily Sabah

The statement came after the judge in the case, Richard Berman, sentenced Atilla to 32 months in prison with credit for time he has already served.

“By convicting a foreign government official, this court made an unprecedented decision regarding the implementation of the U.S. sanctions legislation,” the statement said, adding that the ruling came after an “entirely feigned process which is inconsistent with the principle of fair trial.”

The ministry accused the U.S. court of taking “forged evidence and statements” fabricated by supporters of Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Gülenist terror group (FETÖ) accused of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, and said Atilla had been sentenced despite being innocent.

“The credibility of the legal proceedings has vanished completely,” it added.

On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Bloomberg that Atilla was “definitely innocent.”

“If Hakan Atilla is going to be declared a criminal, that would be almost equivalent to declaring the Turkish Republic a criminal,” he said.

Turkey wants to join EU within 5 years: Deputy PM

May 16, 2018

In an interview with a German newspaper, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag has called for Turkey’s EU accession to be sped up. Negotiations have stalled recently due to a power grab by the Turkish government.

Recep Akdag (Imago/photothek)

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag on Tuesday called for the country to become a member of the European Union by 2023, on the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Turkish republic.

His comments, to German daily Die Welt, reaffirmed Turkey’s frustration at the stalling of accession talks with Brussels.

Read more: EU: Turkey’s membership hopes at an all-time low

The main points of the interview

  • Akdag called for the resumption of accession talks which he said would create an “important new impetus” in Turkey.
  • He accused the EU of acting unfairly by allowing several Balkan countries to join first.
  • “Turkey deserves to join the EU earlier than any other candidate country. But political reasons prevent that,” Akdag said.
  • When asked why Turkey was surprised about the EU stalling negotiations over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on dissent, he said: “Turkey has had an attempted coup and is regularly attacked by terrorists. That’s why there are temporary emergency laws. We are disappointed with the Europeans. We expect them to do their homework.”
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  • He urged Germany to support calls for a reopening of EU accession talks.
  • When asked whether Ankara would threaten to send more Syrian refugees to European shores if the EU didn’t budge, he said: “Im not saying that now. But of course, there is always a line that shouldn’t be crossed.”

Read more: Erdogan: Turkey no longer needs EU membership but will not abandon talks

Thirteen year wait: Turkey-EU relations have been strained by the Ankara government’s power grab following the July 2016 failed coup. EU leaders believe Erdogan is steering his country away from democracy and European values. Therefore, its path to membership, which began in 2005, has become increasingly muddied.

Read more: Turkey-EU relations: Which countries are for or against Turkish accession?

Latest EU report critical of Turkey: Brussels last month warned that years of progress had been lost in Turkey’s accession talks. It said Ankara was taking “major steps” in the wrong direction, and had “suffered serious relapses in the areas of justice, rule of law, fundamental rights and freedom of expression.” It made Turkey’s lifting of emergency rule a precursor to any progression on membership.


 (Daily Sabah Editorial)


Erdogan Plans to Tighten His Grip on Turkey’s Economy

May 15, 2018
‘This may make some uncomfortable. But we have to do it.’ — Central bank can’t ‘set aside the signals from the president’
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he intends to tighten his grip on the economy and take more responsibility for monetary policy if he wins an election next month.

With the Turkish lira at a record low against the dollar and down this year against all 17 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg, Erdogan told Bloomberg TV in London on Monday that after the vote transforms Turkey into a full presidential system, he expects the central bank will have to heed his calls for lower interest rates. The central bank’s key rate is now 13.5 percent, compared with 10.9 percent consumer-price inflation.

“When the people fall into difficulties because of monetary policies, who are they going to hold accountable?” the 64-year-old president said in the interview. “They’ll hold the president accountable. Since they’ll ask the president about it, we have to give off the image of a president who’s influential on monetary policies.”

That “may make some uncomfortable,” he said. “But we have to do it. Because it’s those who rule the state who are accountable to the citizens.”

The lira slid to its weakest level ever against the dollar after his remarks were published, losing 0.6 percent to 4.3942 at 7:32 a.m. Istanbul time.

Erdogan last month called snap elections for June 24, when a victory would consolidate his one-man rule of a country he’s governed since 2003. Since defeating a coup attempt in 2016, Erdogan has used emergency rule to increase his control over the region’s largest economy. A referendum last year weakened the role of parliament and gave the president sweeping authority in the most radical constitutional overhaul since the republic was founded 95 years ago.

“From the moment we move to a presidential governing system, our effectiveness there will be very different,” he said. “We’re going to do this so we can be held accountable for the responsibility we’ve taken.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

The one-time Islamist firebrand, who was jailed on charges of inciting hatred in 1999, was in London meeting with executives, bankers and investors amid a sense of mounting crisis in Turkey’s economy. He’ll meet U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II later on Tuesday.

The outreach comes as Turkey’s relations with its NATO allies fray and its diplomatic focus shifts toward Russia and Iran. The country faces the unprecedented risk of sanctions from the U.S., a risk that Erdogan downplayed.

“We can’t cut off our ties with Russia,” he said in response to whether he was prepared for U.S. sanctions should he consummate the purchase of a missile defense system from Vladimir Putin’s government. “If we’re allies with the U.S., we need solidarity, not sanctions.”

The rapidity of the changes to Turkey’s economic and foreign policies has shaken investor confidence, which is critical because Turkey’s current-account deficit demands steady inflows from abroad. The shortfall in the first quarter of this year was more than $16 billion, almost double the same period last year.

Erdogan has routinely criticized the central bank for setting interest rates that he says have helped stoke rising prices, an argument that contradicts conventional economic theory. Central bank governor Murat Cetinkaya has said higher borrowing costs would help anchor the currency, a view in line with orthodoxy.

Elaborating on his view of interest rates, Erdogan said that cutting them would bring lower inflation because borrowing costs would decline.

“Of course our central bank is independent,” Erdogan said. “But the central bank can’t take this independence and set aside the signals given by the president, who’s the head of the executive. It will make its evaluations according to this, take its steps according to this. And I believe this will result in very beneficial steps in the future.”

On other topics discussed in the interview:

  • Regarding the violence in Gaza:
    “There are two people responsible: Mr. Trump and Netanyahu.”
  • Regarding a U.S. court ruling against a banker from Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS for trying to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran:
    “Right now a great injustice is being done against Halkbank… Such an injustice can’t be… I can’t know what result is going to come from this… I hope it doesn’t yield a result that will completely destroy Turkish-U.S. relations.”
    “Hakan Atilla is definitely innocent. So we want his acquittal… If Hakan Atilla is going to be declared a criminal, that would be almost equivalent to declaring the Turkish Republic a criminal.”
  • Regarding the U.S. administration:
    “We haven’t had a problem up to now. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas where our thoughts don’t align, there are.”



Lira touches record low after Erdogan monetary policy comments

May 15, 2018


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Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president © Reuters

Hudson Lockett in Hong Kong

The Turkish lira touched a record low against the dollar after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he could exert more influence on monetary policy if re-elected in June.

The lira weakened as much as 0.7 per cent to a record 4.3981 per dollar on Tuesday after the comments, made by the president on Bloomberg TV.

“When the people fall into difficulties because of monetary policies, who are they going to hold accountable?” Mr Erdogan said in the interview on Tuesday. “They’ll hold the president accountable. Since they’ll ask the president about it, we have to give off the image of a president who’s influential on monetary policies.”

The lira has weakened 15.3 per cent during the year to date, with Mr Erdogan providing fresh downward pressure in the past week as he called interest rates the “mother of all evil” and called for their lowering at a time when Turkey’s central bank is fighting to tamp down on a flight away from the country’s currency.

Several analysts have suggested the central bank may need to trigger an emergency rate increase despite Mr Erdogan’s vociferous objections.