Tag Archive: Anatolia Section


Tuesday, 28 November, 2017

Saudi-based Acwa Power has announced the launch of the $1-billion Kirikkale Combined Cycle Power Plant in Turkey which has a 1,000 MW capacity, enough to meet three percent of the country’s total electricity demand.

The project was officially launched at a major ceremony held at the Presidential Complex in the presence of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Berat Albayrak, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources besides other senior officials.

It is located in the municipality of Kiliclar in the Yahsihan District, 15km from Kirikkale City Center and 50km east of Ankara.

“The inauguration of this project is a clear sign of the growth and modernization in Turkey, which is making the country set for continued development,” Acwa Power Chairman Mohammad Abunayyan said.

The plant is the first and largest of Saudi energy investments in Turkey’s power sector. Abunayyan said that it stressed Acwa Power’s role in boosting Saudi foreign investment base in the economic, strategic and investment sectors, in line with requirements of Saudi Vision 2030 and its objectives.

“We applaud the Turkish authorities on delivering a key infrastructure project to drive the economy forward for future generations,” he added.

For his part, Managing Director at ACWA Power Thamer al-Sharhan said that achieving this significant milestone has only been possible through the support extended by various institutes, including Energy Ministry, Regulator (EPDK), TEIAS, Kirikkale Governor and Municipality.

“This project is an ideal example of the power of public-private partnerships in fulfilling national ambitions,” Sharhan said.

Notably, the Kırıkkale Power Plant will provide a steady and reliable energy to Turkey’s national grid.

The project is also among the top three most efficient combined cycle gas power plants in Turkey, significantly contributing to the country’s economy through savings in gas consumption.

Source: Asharq al-Awsat.

Link: https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1097416/saudi-arabia%E2%80%99s-acwa-power-inaugurates-1bn-power-plant-turkey.

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2017-11-19

A new nationalist party in Turkey could become a serious political chal­lenge for President Re­cep Tayyip Erdogan as voters complain about a slowing economy and rising corruption.

Erdogan’s ruling Justice and De­velopment Party (AKP) is facing lo­cal and parliamentary elections in 2019. That year also includes a pres­idential election that will decide whether Erdogan can obtain his goal of becoming head of state with full executive powers. While polls show that the AKP, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s strongest political force, the creation of a new party could thwart Erdogan’s ambi­tions.

The Good Party, led by former Interior Minister Meral Aksener, is scoring well in opinion surveys, suggesting it could draw disgrun­tled right-wing voters from the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

As one of the few prominent women in Turkey’s male-dominat­ed political scene, Aksener joined the center-right True Path Party (DYP) and served in the cabinet as interior minister (1996-97) before switching to the MHP.

Now she has launched her own organization, which has become the source of much speculation in Turkey. A survey by the Gezici poll­ing firm has Aksener’s Good Party at nearly 20% of the vote, a result that, if true on Election Day, would make it the third strongest group in Turkey’s parliament and that could end the AKP’s domination of the chamber.

The Good Party enters the stage at a time many Turkish voters are looking for alternatives, pollster Murat Gezici said. “One-in-three AKP voters think Turkey needs a new party,” he said, referring to the results of his latest survey.

The poll also indicated that a ma­jority of MHP voters said they want a new political movement and that Aksener could be a serious chal­lenger to Erdogan in the presiden­tial election in two years. The sur­vey results suggested support for Aksener could keep Erdogan to less than 50% of the votes cast in the first round of the election and could force the president to face her in a second round.

Aksener, who studied history be­fore going into politics, is not hiding her ambition. When the audience at the launch of the Good Party on October 25 called her “prime min­ister” in celebratory chants, she re­sponded by saying that she would be president.

The Good Party is a staunchly right-wing group competing with the AKP and the MHP for conservative voters and could profit from growing skepticism towards the rul­ing party.

“We don’t know much about the new party but Aksener sure is bet­ter than Tayyip,” Rahfet, an Istanbul taxi driver who would only give his first name, said in reference to Er­dogan. “There is corruption every­where.”

Erdogan, in power since becom­ing prime minister in 2003 and pres­ident in 2014, is Turkey’s most pow­erful leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the republic almost a century ago. Turkey en­joyed an unprecedented economic boom under Erdogan and the AKP but a wave of persecutions of sus­pected enemies of the state since a failed coup in 2016 led to com­plaints of a repressive atmosphere in the country.

Turkey’s relations with tradition­al partners in Europe and the Unit­ed States are strained. At the same time, inflation has risen to 12% and unemployment is at 10% overall, with one-in-five younger Turks out of work.

In a sign of the rising political discontent, almost half of Turkish voters rejected Erdogan’s plans for an executive presidency in a refer­endum this year. Results showed that voters in the country’s biggest cities had turned against him. The president responded with a purge of local officials that included forced resignations of the AKP mayors of Istanbul and Ankara.

Aksener told delegates at the founding ceremony of her party that Turkey was suffering from a “dysfunctional opposition and a political structure that is no longer democratic.” She accused Erdogan and the AKP of using the judiciary for political ends and said the coun­try was “tired” of the current gov­ernment.

That sentiment is shared by Turks who are concerned that the country is on the wrong track. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim recently had to defend himself after the publication of documents of the so-called Paradise Papers revealed that his family had investments in Malta that could be used to evade Turkish taxes. The opposition called for an investigation.

Gezici’s poll found that approximately 12% of AKP supporters and more than 22% of MHP voters might go for Aksener’s party in the next election. If that holds in the elec­tion, the MHP, an AKP ally, could drop below the 10% threshold that a Turkish party needs to cross to win seats in parliament.

MHP leader Devlet Bahceli called for an abolition of the 10% condi­tion, a move seen by many as an in­direct admission that the MHP sees its support waning.

Thomas Seibert is an Arab Weekly contributor in Istanbul.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=86007.

NOVEMBER 13, 2017

ANKARA/SOCHI (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan took swipes at U.S. and Russian interventions in Syria on Monday and said if countries truly believed a military solution was impossible, they should withdraw their troops.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump said in a joint statement on Saturday they would continue to fight against Islamic State in Syria, while agreeing that there was no military solution to the country’s wider, six-year-old conflict.

”I am having trouble understanding these comments,“ Erdogan told reporters before flying to Russia for talks with Putin. ”If a military solution is out of the question, then those who say this should pull their troops out.

“Then a political method should be sought in Syria, ways to head into elections should be examined… We will discuss these with Putin,” he said.

After more than four hours of talks with Putin in the southern Russian resort of Sochi, Erdogan said the two leaders had agreed to focus on a political solution to the conflict.

“We agreed that the grounds to focus on a political solution (in Syria) have been formed,” he said.

Putin said Russia would continue to work on Syria with Turkey and their efforts were yielding results: “The level of violence has definitely been reduced, favorable conditions are being created for the progression of a inter-Syrian dialogue.”

Neither leader went into more specific detail. Asked if the two discussed Erdogan’s earlier comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the talks were about more complex issues which could not be made public, according to RIA news agency.

Turkey has been annoyed by both Russian and U.S. missions in Syria. Before his trip to Russia, Erdogan said both Moscow, which backs President Bashar al-Assad, and Washington, which armed Syrian YPG Kurdish forces Ankara sees as allied to separatists fighting in southeastern Turkey, had set up bases.

“The United States said it would completely leave Iraq, but it didn‘t. The world is not stupid, some realities are being told differently and practiced differently,” he said.

He said the United States had 13 bases in Syria and Russia had five. The YPG has said Washington has established seven military bases in areas of northern Syria. The U.S.-led coalition says it does not discuss the location of its forces.

Russia has been a strong supporter of Assad, whose removal Erdogan has demanded, and Moscow’s military intervention two years ago helped turn the conflict in the Syrian president’s favor.

Turkish troops have also fought in Syria to halt the advance of Kurdish YPG forces along its frontier.

“We attach great importance to the joint steps Turkey and Russia will take on (the) defense industry,” Erdogan said.

Source: Reuters.

Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-turkey-russia/erdogan-swipes-at-russia-u-s-missions-in-syria-idUSKBN1DD1F2.

2017-11-13

By Thomas Seibert

ISTANBUL

Turkey and the United States have failed to iron out differences in key areas of their relationship, including a visa dispute, during high-level talks that put a spotlight on tensions between An­kara and the West.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim met with US Vice-Pres­ident Mike Pence in the White House on November 9 in the first face-to-face contact by senior of­ficials of the two NATO partners since the United States angered Ankara a month earlier by suspending visa services for Turks in response to the arrest of an employee of the US Consulate in Is­tanbul by Turkish authorities.

A White House statement issued after the Pence-Yildirim meeting expressed hope for a “new chapter in US-Turkey relations” as well as agreement “on the need for constructive dialogue.” Yildirim told Turkish reporters travelling with him that, while Pence had displayed a “positive” approach towards Turkey, the visa problem remained unsolved. “We will follow developments,” he said.

Turkey introduced similar restrictions for US citizens and both countries had relaxed their visa bans before Yildirim’s visit.

The White House and Turkey were unable to resolve other issues as well. Yildirim said Pence had made it clear that US support for a Kurdish militia in Syria, seen as a terrorist group by Ankara, would continue despite Turkish protests. Pence pressed Yildirim on the case of Andrew Brunson, a US pastor under arrest in Turkey, and Yildirim criticized an indictment by US prosecutors against Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader awaiting trial in New York. Reports have said Zarrab’s trial might rekindle corruption allegations against the Erdogan government.

“We have decided to continue the dialogue,” Yildirim said about his meeting with Pence, the Turk­ish newspaper Hurriyet reported. The prime minister and the vice-president agreed to create a direct phone link and Yildirim said: “Our telephones will be reachable 24 hours.”

Some observers saw Yildirim’s visit as a failure.

“The trip’s futility is hardly surprising for Turkey watchers,” Aykan Erdemir and Merve Tahiroglu of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Wash­ington think-tank, wrote in an analysis. “The Turkish prime minister probably had no illusions of his ability to extract any concessions from his American counterparts but, as Erdogan’s loyal caretaker, Yildirim performed the role that his boss had demanded.”

While Turkey’s ties with the United States and key European allies remain difficult, Ankara is strengthening its relations with Russia. Less than two months after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tur­key, the Turkish leader was to see him November 13 at Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Turkey raised eyebrows in the West by cooperating with Russia in the Syrian crisis and by talking with Moscow about buying a Russian missile defense system, S-400, a highly unusual step for a NATO country.

Erdogan was also to fly to Ku­wait for talks that are expected to center on the row between Qatar and a Saudi-led quartet of neighboring countries. Turkey is a supporter of Qatar, while US President Donald Trump has taken a strong stance against what he calls financial support for terrorism by the government in Doha.

Thomas Seibert is an Arab Weekly contributor in Istanbul.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=85910.

2017-11-03

ANKARA – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signed into law controversial legislation to let state-approved clerics conduct marriage ceremonies, a move critics claim risks undermining Turkey’s secular foundations.

The government-championed measure, passed by parliament last month in the face of bitter opposition, was published Friday in the Official Gazette following Erdogan’s signature Thursday, which means it has now come into force.

The law allows “muftis” to perform and register marriages, as well as state-appointed civil servants.

Muftis are clerics employed by Turkey’s state religious affairs agency Diyanet with the task of taking care of worship across the country.

Turkey is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation but an official secular state under its constitution as set up by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, in 1923.

“The AKP has taken another step that harms the state’s secular pillars and that moves people away from secularism,” Sezgin Tanrikulu, an MP with the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) which was founded by Ataturk, told AFP.

– Open way for child marriages –

Until now, the law has stipulated that even religiously observant couples must be married by a state registrar from the local municipality, not a cleric.

Critics also claim the new law will open the way for unregistered marriages, and will breach Turkey’s civil code.

The government however says a marriage conducted by a mufti is a civil marriage, arguing that the bill is actually regulating secular life, not religious life.

But Tanrikulu said the law was “not an actual need” and expressed fear that citizens would feel under pressure to have a religious marriage as this would go down in records that could be examined by future employers.

“The seeds of such a discriminatory practice are being sown today,” he said.

Tanrikulu expressed concern in particular that the change will exacerbate an already existing problem in the country with child marriage.

According to UN children’s agency UNICEF Turkey has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Europe with a rate of 15 percent of women married by 18.

“The new law will open the way for child marriages,” he said.

But the law has been a priority for the government and in October, Erdogan told the opposition that the law would pass “whether you like it or not.”

Erdogan and the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been repeatedly accused by critics of eroding the secular pillars of modern Turkey.

Erdogan’s governments have notably eased restrictions on wearing the Islamic headscarf in education, politics, the police and most recently the army.

The government rejects the criticism, arguing it allows freedom of worship for all Turkish citizens and the lifting of headscarf bans merely brought Turkey into line with the rules in many Western, non-majority Muslim, nations.

Some European countries, notably Britain, recognize religious marriages but in other EU members like France and the Netherlands couples must first marry in a civil ceremony.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=85755.

October 31, 2017

Turkey’s ambassador to the African Union announced yesterday that Ankara is planning to open five embassies in Africa, the Anadolu Agency reported.

During a speech at Addis Ababa University, Fatih Ulusoy said new embassies are set to open in the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

In his lecture “Turkey in Africa: Drivers and incentives of an emerging power”, Ulusoy said this would bring the total number of Turkish embassies on the continent to 44.

Discussing Turkish-Ethiopian relations, the official said there are currently 165 Turkish companies operating in Ethiopia.

“These companies create jobs for 30,000 Ethiopians,” he said, adding that Turkish investment in Ethiopia stands at nearly $3 billion, accounting for about half of Turkey’s total investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Turkey started its openness to the black continent in 1998 and this relationship prospered when the

Under Erdogan, Turkey has become the third largest country that offers humanitarian aid to Africa after the US and the UK.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171031-turkey-to-open-5-new-embassies-in-africa/.

October 31, 2017

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish state television says a lawyer for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has filed a criminal complaint against an opposition legislator for calling Turkey’s leader a “fascist dictator.”

Lawmaker Bulent Tezcan, who is the spokesman for the main opposition party, made the comments in a town in northwest Turkey on Monday, to support a local mayor who was questioned by authorities for reportedly calling Erdogan a “dictator.”

TRT television says Erdogan’s lawyer filed a complaint on Tuesday, accusing Tezcan of insulting the president — a crime that is punishable by up to four years in prison. Erdogan has filed similar complaints against close to 2,000 people before withdrawing them after last year’s failed coup as a goodwill gesture.

Critics say Turkey has taken an authoritarian turn under Erdogan.

By Benjamin Harvey

October 25, 2017

A veteran Turkish nationalist politician known as “she-wolf” by her admirers formed a breakaway party to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a potentially vote-splitting move that could loosen his grip on power.

“Democracy is under threat,” former Interior Minister Meral Aksener said Wednesday in an address to hundreds of supporters in the capital, Ankara. “The postmodern national ‘chief’ era has started, but it’s not sustainable,” she said in a reference to Erdogan’s increasingly centralized rule.

The formation of the Iyi Parti, which translates as the “Good Party,” is expected to divide votes in the 2019 national elections, when Turkey completes its transition to a governing system under a strengthened presidency. Even before the party was established, there were signs Aksener aspired to win over Turkey’s largely centrist electorate as the first female candidate for the office of president. When her supporters affectionately chanted, “Prime Minister!” Aksener responded: “I will be president.”

Erdogan is also expected to run for re-election. The president, who survived a July 2016 coup attempt that he says was carried out by followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, has since overseen the purge of about 110,000 alleged Gulenist followers from state jobs. Banks, businesses and media outlets have been seized or shut down.

Tired Nation

“Turkey is tired, the nation is tired, the state is worn out,” said Aksener, 61, who’s affectionately called Asena, or she-wolf, by nationalist voters. “There is no healthy way other than changing this political climate.”

The new party, whose constituent members also include former central bank Governor Durmus Yilmaz and former Public Works Minister Koray Aydin, was established nearly two years after Aksener and senior members of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, failed to depose leader Devlet Bahceli as he supported Erdogan’s quest for greater powers

The April 16 referendum on the executive presidential system handed Erdogan a slim victory, evidence of deep divisions within the Turkish electorate. Turkey’s largest cities all voted against the measures, denting Erdogan’s image as an invincible politician. Opposition parties claimed fraud after the elections board decided to count unstamped, unverified ballots.

“The April 16 referendum was a dirty referendum,” Aksener told her supporters. Turkey’s state structure has been “completely eradicated” since Erdogan became president, she said.

The new movement officially elected Aksener as party leader after her speech on Wednesday. The party has promised that women will account for 30 percent of the candidates on its election list.

— With assistance by Selcan Hacaoglu, and Onur Ant

Source: Bloomberg.

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-25/erdogan-gets-a-rival-as-veteran-turkey-nationalist-starts-party.

October 17, 2017

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Poland for talks on international security and on his policies at home. Erdogan is to meet Tuesday with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and parliament speakers. He is expected to attend a Polish-Turkish business forum with Duda.

Duda’s adviser Andrzej Szczerski said there will be no “taboo” themes and the talks will include the situation in Turkey, where tens of thousands of people have been arrested or dismissed from their jobs since last year’s coup attempt.

Szczerski argued on radio RMF that it is important to maintain relations with Turkey because it is an important NATO member and European Union’s partner with a key role in the migration crisis and in Middle East politics.

2017-10-11

NOVI PAZAR – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan received a rapturous welcome on Wednesday during a visit to the Serbian town of Novi Pazar, capital of the Muslim majority Sandzak region that has seen mass emigration to Turkey since the violent breakup of Yugoslavia.

Erdogan, on a two-day visit to Serbia, hopes to boost Turkey’s economic and cultural influence in the Balkan region, which was part of the Ottoman empire for centuries, at a time of increased tensions with the European Union and United States.

“We have special relations with this region. Your happiness is our happiness, your pain is our pain,” Erdogan told more than 10,000 people gathered in front of the municipality building.

“Sandzak is the biggest bridge linking us with our brothers in Serbia,” he said, with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic standing close by.

Turkish influence is already strong among fellow Muslims in Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo, but mainly Orthodox Christian Serbia is traditionally much closer to Russia. However, Belgrade and Ankara, which both want to join the EU but are frustrated by the slow pace of progress, are keen to increase bilateral trade.

Erdogan said Turkey would finance the construction of a road linking Sandzak with the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, reconstruct an Ottoman-era hammam and build a bridge in Novi Pazar.

In Belgrade on Tuesday, Erdogan pledged gas and Turkish investments for the Balkans and he signed deals with Vucic to expand a bilateral free trade agreement.

In Novi Pazar, local people waved Turkish flags and the green and blue flags of Serbia’s Muslim community, and chanted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest). A big banner read “Welcome Sultan” and was signed by “Ottoman grandchildren”.

“Erdogan is our nation’s leader, Vucic is our state leader, this is the greatest day for us Muslims to have them both here,” Ismail Ismailovic, 28, from the nearby town of Tutin, farmer, sporting long beard and white embroidered Muslim skull cap.

It was a far cry from the 1990s when Serbia and Turkey were sharply at odds in the conflicts that tore apart Yugoslavia. Turkey sees itself as the historic defender of Muslims across the Balkan region.

“I know I am not going to be welcomed here like Erdogan is,” said Vucic, who was a firebrand Serbian nationalist during the wars of the 1990s but has turned strongly pro-EU. “But at least I can come out and say that I am working in your best interest.”

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=85351.