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Turkish News Bulletin – 08.02.2021

Higher Education

It was announced by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, that following huge investment in higher education since 2002, there has been a significant improvement in Turkish higher education in recent years.

Mr Erdogan informed  reporters that the AK Party had initiated a project to establish universities in every province of Turkey, resulting in the number of universities increasing from 76 to 207, with an increased capacity of 8.4 million students, an increase from just 1.6 million.  Mr Erdogan also noted that the ratio of female students has increased from 42% to 49% – some 5% higher than that EU average of 40%.

The initiative has also meant that thousands of young people are now able to access higher education in their own province, a move welcomed by those who are unable to leave their home cities.  Mr Erdogan continued “It is important for us and for our future to provide university students the most advanced knowledge of our era. For this purpose, we attach special value to supporting newly established universities in terms of academic and administrative staff,” he said.

Mr Erdogan went on to say that the calibre of Turkey’s higher education system is attracting around 200,000 international students, who choose to complete their degree in Turkey, bringing in around $1 billion to the Turkish economy.

 

EU Relations

Turkey’s eagerly anticipated reform agenda has also been welcomed by the EU.

Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, head of the European Union Delegation to Turkey, said recently that the Turkish government’s recently announced reform agenda is welcomed by the EU and they hope to see “concrete steps in a direction that will lead to the opening of a window of opportunity in EU-Turkish relations,”.

The reform package includes 59 articles, which cover issues such as economic and judicial reforms together with an EU action plan. Mr Meyer-Landrut commented “This is important not only for Turkey but also for Turkish-EU relations. As such, we will closely follow the developments.”

 

Defence

A video, released by the Turkish Ministry of Defence a few days ago, revealed that a test of the country’s locally-produced maritime missile, was successful in reaching it’s Black Sea target.

Tests of the long-range anti-ship missile, Atmaca, were carried out in the Northern province of Sinop.  The missiles have a range  of more than 124 kilometres, and is said to be a high precision, long-range, surface to surface missile, which can be used by patrol boats, frigates and corvettes.

The Turkish navy is currently using the American Harpoon missiles, which are expected to be replaced by the new Turkish Atmaca, which features enhanced qualities and has been in development since 2009.

Atmaca is effective against fixed and moving targets thanks to its resistance to countermeasures, target update, reattack and task cancelation capabilities, as well as an advanced, 3D routing system.  There is also a land-based version of the missile.

 

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Turkish Daily News:  05.02.2021

Istanbul

Following in the footsteps of other cities in Turkey, Istanbul began to train it’s first female firefighters on Monday.

The 50 women, eager to secure their new role, worked alongside their male counterparts by completing  tasks such as rolling water hoses and weights, and carrying dummies to represent fire victims.

Istanbul Mayor, Ekrem Imamoğlu, watched the firefighter test at the Avrasya Show and Arts Centre and commented “This is a very exciting development for us.  We have initially selected 50 women for firefighter recruitment and plan to hire 500 more staff this year.”

With increased funding and incentives, the Turkish Government is keen to boost opportunities for women to find employment, which is currently around 32% in the country.

Mr Imamoglu also shared his excitement for the progress being made in female employment. “We needed this recruitment drive as it has been a long time since the fire department hired so many people.” He said and stressed “Istanbul needs more firefighters due to its growing population and a faster response to fires and likely disasters. I am especially excited for women. Women and men should enjoy equality in opportunities in every aspect of life.  Women can perfectly handle this job.”

 

Further good news for Istanbul was revealed yesterday by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), who reported that, for the first time since 2000,  citizens of Turkey’s most populous city had decreased, with 56,000 fewer inhabitants than in December 2019.

Turkey’s most vibrant city has historically attracted people from all around the world, and reported some 11 million residents in 2,000.  With a booming construction industry and continuing urban development, the population has continued to increase over the past 20 years, and, despite yesterday’s report, still has the country’s highest population density at 2,976 people per square kilometre.

 

Winter in Turkey

Although Turkey has a reputation as being a favoured holiday getaway destination, due to its warm seas and tempting beaches, many travellers to the country are not aware that temperatures during the winter months can plummet, with heavy snow in many areas.  New settlers may be caught out, armed only with their summer wardrobe, and wonder how best to keep warm during the short winter months.

The answer lies with the choice of attire, worn by many traditional Turks, some dating back to Ottoman times, when Turks were nomads, roaming the harsh plains of Central Asia, but still worn in some regions of Turkey today.

  1. The Bork. Before the arrival of the Fez, the Bork was the choice of headwear by the Ottomans and Anatolian Seljuks.  The bork is a felt or leather hat, usually trimmed with fur or felt, and currently seeing a revival amongst trendsetters, both in Turkey and around the world – most probably due to it’s prominence in the popular TV drama series “Dirilis – Ertugrul”.  The hat is still produced in Turkey, particularly at Borkhan, in Konya.

 

  1. The Bornoz. Another way the Turks keep warm in the winter is the Bornoz, commonly known internationally as the bathrobe, which is reported to have been invented by the Turks, particularly in Bursa in the 17th Century, and is still a favourite in many Turkish homes.

Being a region which boasts many thermal springs and spas, Bursa is still a major towel producing region of the country and in many historical bazaars in Bursa, and speciality shops in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, you can find many stylish variations of this traditional garment.

 

  1. Carik. Turkey’s famous ‘Carik’ shoes, boots and sandals are also seeing a revival, again most likely due to their use in mainstream historic film series such as Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Alexander the Great, Troy – and even Harry Potter, which used these natural items of footwear, all of which are hand sewn and made from cowhide, lambskin and water buffalo.

Being waterproof, they protect the wearer from rain, snow and mud, and can also be worn in saltwater.  Sometimes lined with a layer of clay, to prevent odour and fungus, the Carik is the perfect winter footwear for the harsh Turkish winters.

 

  1. Turkish women are well known for their love and dexterity of handicrafts and the humble sock, or corap is one area which has regained it’s popularity throughout the ages.

The brightly coloured hand knitted socks, which also double up as slippers, are famous worldwide and are widely available in many areas of Turkey, with each area having their own style of colour and pattern.  There is even a sock museum in Beylikduzu, Istanbul, which proudly displays over 250 different examples of this basic, but staple, item of clothing.

 

  1. Kece Yelek. The Kece Yelek, or ‘felt vest’ is a simple waistcoat, traditionally made from felt with a zipped front and maybe a pocket or two.

The yelek was worn by farmers and herdsmen, working in the wilds of country, due to it’s practicallity and warmth, and utilised the felt which was produced by making use of the steam and hot water produced by the hammams, or Turkish bath.

The yeleks are widely available at Turkish farmer’s markets and even online, and one of the most well-known felt artists, Mehmet Girgic, was named one of seven Turkish Living Treasures by UNESCO in 2010.

 

  1. The Turkish Salvar is probably one of the most widely seen of Turkish attire throughout the country.  Probably best described as the fore-runner of the sweatpants popular by the youth of today, the salvar are traditionally worn by both men and women in mainly rural areas of Turkey.  These traditional baggy trousers, easily identifiable by their elasticated waists and gathered at the ankle, have been, and are still worn, by older generations – most probably due to their comfort and practicallity.  Men’s salvars are generally black in colour but the ladies versions are brightly coloured and usually worn with equally bright coloured sweaters and long cardigans.  Many fashion houses are offering similar garments today, under the name of Harem Pants which are seeing increased popularity amongst todays fashionistas.

 

 

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Turkey News Bulletin – 03.02.2021

Defence/EU Relations

A news conference held after a meeting in Budapest yesterday, between Turkish Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, and his Hungarian counterpart, Tibor Benko, was told that discussions had been ‘constructive and productive’.

Amongst the topics discussed were issues of defence and security, along with military co-operation, and Mr Akar recognised the importance of good relationships with Hungary, who he noted as a “true friend and ally”.

Also discussed at the meeting were matters such as developments in the neighbouring regions such as the Aegean, Balkans, Azerbaijan, Libya, and Afghanistan

Mr Akar also noted that both countries’ cooperation and common efforts would not only contribute to the bilateral ties, but also to the EU and NATO efforts in security.

Mr Benko reiterated that they discussed many important issues and that common efforts were carried out under NATO to ensure security, stability, and peace.

Stressing that the Turkish peace mission provided valuable contributions to peace and security in the western Balkans, he further noted that Turkey’s efforts, regarding the sheltering of 4 million refugees, meant a lot for both Europe and Hungary.  Mr Benko went on to personally thank Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his counterpart Mr Akar for their commitment to such solidarity.

Turkey-US Talks

Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın held a phone conversation with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan recently, the first official dialogue since the new administration in Washington took office last month.

A statement issued by the Turkish presidency declared that it is necessary for Turkey and the United States to strengthen their relations, maintain close contact in every issue, and effectively use the channels of dialogue for constructive cooperation in the period ahead.

Kalın expressed Turkey’s expectation that the two allied countries would adopt a strong, sustainable and constructive model of relationship in the new era and a consensus was reached to strengthen the NATO alliance and to take steps that would contribute to regional and global peace and stability.

Turkish Gold Discovery

A recent discovery of gold reserves in Turkey’s northwestern province of Bilecik, will yield around 6 – 7 tons of gold per year, and will create employment for around 800 people in the year, said Fatih Donmez, Energy & Natural Resources Minister yesterday.

Turkey has invested around $560 million over the past 18 years in the Bilecik area, with around $55 million in the first six months of 2020 alone, which enabled gold production in the area to achieve 42 tons – the highest level in the history of the country, and adding $2.4 billion to the Turkish economy.

Mr Donmez added that Turkey has invested $6 billion in the gold sector, which currently employs 13,200 and aims to increase its domestic gold production to 100 tons a year in the next five years.

 

 

 

 

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Turkish Daily News  03.02.2021

ECONOMY

Highest Monthly Export Figures

At a meeting in Ankara yesterday, it was revealed that exports from Turkey surpassed $15 bn in January, with a sales increase of 2.5%, year on year, making it the highest monthly figure ever, whilst Imports were down 5.6% to amount to $18.1 billion,

The country’s Trade Minister, Ruhsar Pekcan, said “This figure shows that the growth process seen in the last quarter of last year continues in our exports,” Pekcan said.

The  fall in imports, coupled with the rise in exports, has resulted in the foreign trade deficit ended up shrinking 32% on annual basis to over $3 billion.

Mr Pekcan continued ““The January figures indicate important and successful performance amid the ongoing uncertainty in the global economy, restrictions imposed by our trading partners due to the second wave of the coronavirus, and supply constraints such as delays in delivery times and increases in logistics costs,”

Depending on the pandemic, Pekcan said Turkey is optimistic about achieving the export target of $184 billion this year.

 

In other news, it was revealed that Turkish land vehicles manufacturer Katmerciler signed a 39.4 million-euro ($47.6 million, TL 342.2 million) export agreement with an undisclosed country for the sale of various types of armored vehicles tailored for different needs.

The deal marks the highest export value the company has ever achieved in a single agreement.

 

Turkish Lira

More good news for Turkey came yesterday as it was announced that the Turkish Lira had risen by 1.9%, it’s highest since August.

The lira has outpaced all emerging markets’ currencies, except China, after the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey’s (CBRT) new chief, Naci Ağbal, hiked rates to 17% from 10.25% since November and pledged to tackle double-digit inflation.

Monday saw the lira jump to 7.1666 against the dollar by 6:30 p.m. local time – it’s best day so far this year, after gaining on seven of the last nine trading days.

Turkey’s benchmark stock index, the BIST 100, was up 1.29% to close Monday at 1,492.45 points.

It is thought that recent interest rate hikes, together with the Government’s promise of a new constitution and assurances of more market friendly trading, will result in better inflation rates, improved monetary credibility and a rebuilding of FX reserves.

 

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News Bulletin – 02.02.2021

New Constitution for Turkey

In a statement given yesterday, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated “It is time to discuss drafting a new constitution”.  He said that his ruling party, AKP and their ally the MHP have agreed on a plan, based on the outcome of the 2017 constitutional referendum, which asked voters to decide on an 18-article bill switching from a parliamentary to a presidential system, among other changes.

Mr Erdogan explained “Our reform packages will be revealed soon in full detail,” he said, adding that the reforms will be carried out in the judiciary and the economy.

The public will see “that these reform packages contain very fundamental and important regulations that will carry our country to 2023 and beyond,” he added, referring to the Republic of Turkey’s centennial year.

He also touched on economic developments, saying that Turkey has withstood the consequences of the ongoing pandemic well. “Recent international analyses show Turkey and China to be the sole countries within G-20 to have ended 2020 with positive growth, as “preliminary data indicates Turkish economy ended 2020 with growth of over 1%,”  he said.

He went on to say that, in 2020 some 10,505 investment certificates were issued, which relates to investments of almost $33.3 billion dollars, leading to around 305,000 new jobs.

Mr Erdogan also addressed the issue of rising food prices, calling this “the greatest threat” to both consumers and producers, but added that he believes such volatility will decrease in the second half of the year, due to measures taken within Turkey and developments around the world.

The Turkish president also commented on the progress the country has made in space and satellite technologies and said: “Turkey started to work on establishing a microsatellite launcher facility and will soon have the capacity to send its and friendly countries’ satellites into space”.  He continued “”We are determined to make our country a brand in space and satellite technologies that have a wide range of uses from communication to energy, from environmental protection to the defense industry,”

Turkey – Greece Negotiations

As the 61st round of talks between the two nations closes, the western world eagerly awaits the fate of the 62nd round.

What is known is that five party talks, between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, will take place in early March, where Turkey’s Foreign Minister will meet with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias.  The outcome of this meeting will decide whether the next round of talks between the two countries will take place, and more importantly, whether they will pave the way for a meeting between the two heads of Government, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

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TURKISH NEWS ROUND-UP:  Sunday 24.01.2021

New OECD Centre Opens in Istanbul

On 22nd January 2021 Istanbul opened the OECD’s (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) fifth regional centre, which will be instrumental in developing existing ties across a wide area including Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa, southeastern Europe and Southeast Asia.  It is anticipated that the new Istanbul OECD centre will support countries in those regions and will lay the groundwork for a sustainable post-pandemic recovery.

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, inaugurating the centre at a virtual event said “We are one step closer to our goal of making Istanbul a centre for international organisations, including the UN”.  He added that the new OECD centre would enable Turkey to contribute more to the organisation’s work across wide geographies.

Underlining the OECD’s important role in combating the pandemic’s negative impact on the world, Mr Erdogan continued “The organisation has prepared strong, inclusive and sustainable proposals for revitalising economic growth and employment on a global scale.”

Mr Erdoğan recognised that the OECD’s efforts would speed up the recovery process in the coming months and noted that the Istanbul headquarters would serve the organisation’s strategy towards partner countries and would also strengthen trade and investment relations with non-member countries.

We hope the Istanbul centre will play a truly central role in the work of the OECD and will provide a wide range of services in communication with Paris” he said.

Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said that the opening of the centre will enable Turkey-OECD ties to enter a new era of co-operation.

Russia Signs Deal with Turkey on Production of Covid-19 Vaccine

Turkey has signed an agreement with Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund, RDIF, to produce their Sputnik V vaccine which it is expected to help in the battle against the Covid-19 virus, with transfer of the production technology already underway.

Turkey is also in talks with Germany regarding the joint production of another coronavirus technology.

Turkish doctors find link between heliocobacter and Covid-19

Turkish doctors are reported to have found a link between one of the most common and infectious bacteria, heliocobacter and Covid-19.  The recent study, conducted among 100 COVID-19 patients over a six-month period, at the Gulhance Training and Research Hospital in Ankara found that those with the bacteria in their bodies, estimated to be one in every two people in Turkey, had more severe discomfort in the digestive system if they contract the novel coronavirus.  Dr. Necati Balamtekin who led the research stated “The helicobacter increases the frequency of ACE-2 receptors, which are the gateway of the coronavirus into the body, in the gastrointestinal (digestive) system. This causes digestive system symptoms of the coronavirus, such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting, to be seen more frequently in people with H. pylori,” he said.

Dr Balamtekin urged those with helicobacter, who are in the high risk groups for Covid-19, to get immediate treatment, so they would face fewer digestive issues should they contract the virus.

Attack at Turkish Mosque

A Turkish mosque, near the Denmark-Germany border suffered an Islamophobic attack when someone wrote insulting articles on its walls, an official at the facility said yesterday.

Hurşit Tokay, the president of the mosque association, reported that he left the Aabenraa Mosque on the evening of January 22nd, but that, when he arrived on the morning of 23rd January he noticed writings on the wall which insulted the holy book of Islam.  The mosque, which operates under the umbrella of the Danish Turkish Islamic Foundation, was partially closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The incident has been reported to police and an investigation has been opened.  Footage from surveillance cameras in the area will be examined to trace the perpetrators.

Tokay condemned the attack but said the writings were erased and no other damage was detected to the mosque.

Turkey Set to Announce Reform Package

It has been over two months since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the Government will outline crucial reform packages on the economy and judiciary but, in a statement this week, Mr Erdogan informed that the reforms are almost ready to be announced.

Senior officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have confirmed that a draft of the Human Rights Action Plan has been submitted to Mr Erdogan and that further discussions will take place during next week’s meeting with the AKP central executive body.

Although no specific date has been confirmed, it is expected that Mr Erdogan will reveal the content of the reform package in the next few weeks, which is eagerly awaited by many.

It is also expected that the Reform Action Group will be resumed soon, to dicuss how the country will harmonise it’s acquis with that of the European Union, in order to progress Turkey’s accession to the EU.

Turkey/EU Agree Further Talks

Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu reported that, following his recent visit to Brussels, agreement has been reached not only to further enhance dialogue but to engage in concrete actions, whilst also agreeing the need to revisit the March 18 immigration deal, set up to reduce the influx of irregular migrants towards Europe.

Mr Cavusoglu further reported that his meetings with many of the EU’s leaders were “open, honest and positive” and that Turkey wants to build on the current positive atmosphere.  He added that EU officials will visit Turkey as soon as possible.

A written statement issued by the EU confirmed that “The European Union has a strategic interest in the development of a cooperative and reciprocally beneficial relationship, anchored in values and principles”

 

Turkey Sets Out 5 Year Plan for New Naval Additions

At a ceremony to launch Turkey’s latest Istanbul frigate, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Turkey is among just 10 countries which have the ability to design, build and maintain their own warships, and added that five major naval projects will be completed within 5 years.

At the ceremony, which also marked the start of manufacture of a third ship for the Pakistani navy, Mr Erdogan also highlighted the exceptional defence relations between the two countries, which “has great potential.  We are moving a historical brotherhood between Turkey and Pakistan one step further. Just like Turkey, Pakistan also struggles against many terrorist threats in a difficult region. I believe that both countries can help each other in defying these threats,” he said.

The Pakistan Navy signed a contract with Turkey’s Military Factory and Shipyard Management Corporation (ASFAT) in July 2018 to acquire four MILGEM-class ships.

The MILGEM project was initiated in 2000 to locally design and build a fleet of multipurpose corvettes and frigates that will replace older ships. Turkey has built four corvettes so far in line with the programme, namely the TCG Heybeliada, the TCG Büyükada, the TCG Burgazada and the TCG Kınalıada, while the fifth vessel, the first MILGEM I-class frigate of its kind, the Istanbul Frigate, was recently added to the inventory of the Turkish military with Saturday’s ceremony.

Whilst speaking about naval capabilities, Mr Erdoğan hinted at some details of the new projects, signaling major improvements in the Turkish navy’s submarine, aircraft carrier and naval defence capacity.

He said a new aircraft carrier, which will be designed indigenously, will promote Turkey to the top league in the naval field.  Gökdeniz systems, the naval equivalent of Korkut low-altitude air defence, will be added to the inventory of the Turkish military with the Istanbul frigate, he added.

Mr Erdoğan also noted that six new submarines will be taken into service starting from 2022, one for each year.

The president also noted that Turkey is already among the world’s top three to four countries in the field of non-armed and armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

 

 

 

 

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Turkish News 2 – 01.23.2021

A recent statement from the office of the Pakistani Prime Minister hints at a joint project with Turkey to produce a historical TV series.

The proposal was discussed on Thursday with PM Imran Khan and leading Turkish director Kemal Tekden, the director of the popular Turkish TV series Resurrection: Ertugrul and his team, who are in Pakistan on a five-day visit.

According to the statement, Khan welcomed the Turkish team and praised their work for producing the historic Ertugrul series.  The meeting was also attended by Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz, Kashmir Committee Chairman Shehryar Afridi and leading actors from the Turkish and Pakistani film industries.  It is understood that the two sides discussed the proposed joint TV series “Turk Lala”, which will highlight the role played by Muslims of the sub-continent who went to Turkey in 1920 and fought against the imperialist forces during the Balkan War.

Mr Afridi briefed the premier on the proposed series and said Turk Lala played an important role in the Khilafat Movement.  He was referring Abdur Rehman Peshawari, who held the distinction of becoming one of the very first reporters of the Anadolu Agency when it was founded in the early 1920s.  “This series [Turk Lala] will educate our younger generation about our heroes,” Afridi said and highlighted the importance of Turk Lala in Turkey and his role in the Khilafat Movement.

Today, thanks to the help extended during Turkey’s War of Liberation, Turkey and Pakistan enjoy historic relations and Tekden lauded Khan’s move to broadcast Turkish dramas on state-run Pakistani Television.

“Both Prime Minister Khan and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believe that youth of today can play an important role in the development of any country and they [youth] must be educated about their history and culture,” Tekden said.

 

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News Round Up From Turkey – 26.01.2021

In the battle against Covid-19, Turkey has taken delivery of 6.5 million doses of CoronaVac, the vaccine which has been developed by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech.  The consignment follows the earlier delivery of 3 million doses, which has enabled Turkey to innoculate 1.27 million people so far, mostly health workers, care home staff and residents but the programme has now been extended to enable people aged 80 and over to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations.

The Health Ministry will test the new shipment, which medics say takes around two weeks, before the vaccines are administered and a further delivery of 3.5 million doses is also on order.

Fresh Talks Begin Between Turkey & Greece

Yesterday saw the launch of diplomatic talks between Turkey and Greece, the first in almost 5 years.  The negotiations will attempt to address their disputes relating to sovereignty rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and it is believed that the talks will further improve relationships between the two countries.

Reports from the meeting state that recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, the current situation and future possible steps were discussed.  Turkey’s Presidential spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin later tweeted that Turkey is hoping for regional peace and stability and that a solution to all problems is possible.

It is believed that the two countries will initiate talks surrounding the world’s most recently discovered regions of proven natural gas reserves.

2020 saw an escalation of hostility between the two countries, which resulted in the setting up of a hotline between Athens and Ankara, both NATO members, so that any conflicts, whether at sea or air, could be de-escalated quickly.

Both the Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias and the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, are quoted as saying said over the weekend that they are entering the exploratory talks “in good faith”.

The current talks were initiated on 11th January, when Ankara officially invited Greece to resume dialogue, demonstrating Turkey’s wishes for further dialogue, cooperation and resolution.  The invitation was accepted by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on 20th January, when he stated that his country would join the talks with “optimism and confidence.”

 

 

 

EU Bosses Welcome Turkey’s Recent Diplomatic Efforts

The recent meeting, between Turkey & Greece, has been met with optimism from members of the EU, who have already declared that they will discuss relations with Turkey again in March.

European Council President, Charles Michel, yesterday welcomed the latest development between Turkey & Greece and stated that the EU is “looking forward to resumption of exploratory talks between the two countries.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu met with top EU officials in Brussels last week, which Ankara hopes will result in a return visit to Ankara in a few weeks’ time.

Disputes between Turkey and Greece, surrounding the divided island of Cyprus and contested maritime boundaries, resulted in a meeting in Brussels on 10th December, following which France, Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration identified several Turkish targets to sanction,  although other EU states, including influential Germany, were in favour of a diplomatic approach.  Turkish leaders responded by reiterating their desire to resolve the problems through dialogue and negotiations, which hasn’t always been reciprocated by Athens.

The past few weeks, however, has seen a mellowing on all sides, as both Turkey and the EU have expressed desire to ‘turn a new page’.  Turkey has always maintained it’s desire to be a member of the EU, and it is anticipated that 2021 will see progress towards achieving that aim.

Late in 2020, Turkey also proposed a conference between all Mediterranean countries, including Turkish Cypriots, and are awaiting a response from the EU.  During last week’s Brussels meetings, Mr Cavusoglu repeated the request, adding that the region’s natural resources must be fairly distributed between both Cypriot parties, but Ankara feels that the EU has disregarded the rights of the Turkish side.

 

Foreign Investors Returning to Turkey

Eagerly awaited reform pledges, and the newly appointed head of the Central Bank, have been instrumental in attracting investors back to Turkey as over $15 billion has flowed into the country, since November, when the President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised a new ‘market friendly’ era.

This figure is expected to double mid-year, reports Reuters, following their interviews with more than a dozen foreign money managers.  Six Turkish bankers also told Reuters they expect foreigners to hold 10% of the debt by mid-year on between $7 billion to 15 billion of inflows. Deutsche Bank sees about $10 billion arriving.

 

London based Head of Emerging Markets at BlueBay Asset Management, Polina Kurdyavko is encouraged by the latest moves in Turkey and said “We have added to our exposure, and plan to keep it that way as long as we continue to see the orthodox steps”.

Another asset management company, Paris-based Carmignac, which manages $45 billion in assets, may also take the plunge after a year away.  Emerging debt fund manager, Joseph Mouawad, emerging debt fund manager says ““There could be some value in Turkish assets and we have started to look with a little bit more interest especially with the very high rates.”

Turkey’s asset valuations and real rates are among the most attractive globally and are also lifted by a wave of optimism over coronavirus vaccines and economic rebound that pushed EM inflows to their highest level since 2013 in the fourth quarter, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

Whilst the Turkish Lira touched a record low in early November, the day before Naci Ağbal took the reins of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT), it has since been gaining value, following the hawkish messages and moves by the bank, with interest rates being hiked from 10.25% to17%, and a promise of even tighter measures if needed.

Such measures are encouraging some foreign investors who, after almost abandoning Turkish assets in recent years, are now giving Turkey another look.

In November Mr Erdoğan promised a slate of judicial and economic reforms. He said the country will bring in structural reforms to break the “triangle of evil” of interest rates, inflation and exchange rates, adding Ankara was determined to form a system based on production and employment.

Mr Erdoğan added that 2021 would be “the year of democratic and economic reforms” and that it would present the reforms to parliament “as soon as possible.”

 

 

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Turkish News 1 – 23.01.2021

Located in the foothills of Mountain Uludağ, just 10 kilometers from Bursa’s city center, the pretty Otoman village of Cumalıkızık is a step back in time for the thousands of tourists who visit throughout the year, eager to stroll through the peaceful streets, and gaze with awe at the picturesque and well preserved historical buildings such as mosques, inns and timber framed houses.

Registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014, as the village reflects the birth of the Ottoman Empire in the 14th and early 15th century, Cumalıkızık is especially popular with those living in big cities such as Istanbul and Bursa, who book hotels and enjoy peace and quiet in one of the most beautiful places in Turkey.

Described as a “foundation village” in the early Ottoman period, the area remains one of the best examples of the Ottoman lifestyle with its traditional stone paved streets, houses built with wood and adobe and monumental structures.  The village provided employment for many artisans who engaged in the construction of the complexes and the first capital.

With a population of about 700 people, the village attracts thousands of tourists throughout the year, even during the winter season, when amateur photographers, keen to wander the narrow streets and eager to capture a moment in time, arrive in their hundreds, with many taking a break to enjoy sumptuous breakfast tables consisting of local delicacies and a glass of hot Turkish tea in the snow.

The village, which owes it’s recent popularity to the TV series and movies shot there in recent years is home to 270 historical houses, walkways and a museum, not to mention some 60 food and drinking venues and nearly 150 gift stalls

Cumalıkızık, which lies within the boundaries of the central Yıldırım district, benefits from it’s location adjacent to one of the favourite winter destinations in Turkey, Uludag.  After their exertions on the slopes, whether ski-ing, snowboarding or just riding on snow sleds and bikes, visitors are more than happy to slow down the pace a little and relax with a short tour in the village for a few hours.

If you are searching for a unique, interesting and picturesque place to take a short break in Turkey, then you must add Cumalıkızık to your itinerary.

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Turkish Daily News Bulletin – 28.01.2021

Turkey-Pakistan Collaboration

In a move to extend Turkey’s support for it’s close ally, Pakistan, the Turkish Co-operation and Co-ordination Agency (TIKA) has established a new medical centre in Karachi.  The medical facility will offer surgery for children born with a cleft lip and palate, a health condition which affects one in every 523 children born in Pakistan.

The operating theatre, which was opened by  TIKA co-ordinator Ibrahim Katırcı, provincial Governor Imran Ismail and founder of the charitable hospital Al Mustafa Medical Centre, Haji Muhammad Hanif Tayyab, will have the capacity to perform around 1000 operations annually.  Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Ismail thanked TIKA and the Turkish government for setting up the state-of-the-art facility for needy children and will give them a chance of a normal life.  He added that the Pakistan-Turkey friendship is exemplary and will keep on flourishing in the days to come.  Tayyab also thanked TIKA and the Turkish government for their contribution to “this noble cause.”

The Turkish agency, active in Pakistan already has several projects underway, including humanitarian aid and access to clean water.  A recently established ultrasound facility at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center  Karachi, will provide a free service to up to 6,000 patients a month and Pakistan’s first-ever high dependency unit for Thalassemia patients has also been established by the Turkish aid agency in Karachi.

 

Meanwhile, Turkey has invited Pakistan’s private sector to explore opportunities of joint-ventures in trade and investment with its counterparts, while expressing interest to help develop tourism sector and cooperate in the information and technology field.

Consul General of Turkey Tolga Ucak said the business community should immediately start online interactions with their Turkish counterparts and subsequently investigate the possibility of sending a business delegation to Turkey in the post-COVID scenario to explore new avenues of trade and investment co-operation in different sectors of the economy.

“Business communities can collaborate with each other in numerous sectors of the economy particularly the information technology sector as Pakistan’s software houses are doing very well, while the potential to enhance co-operation also exists in tourism, education and automobile sectors,” Ucak said during a meeting with a delegation of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

The Turkish envoy stressed the need to encourage joint ventures in different sectors of the economy whereas Turkey can also assist in setting up a tram service system in Karachi, particularly at the coastal line of sea view.  Mr Ucak also expressed his enthusiasm to strengthen trade and investment ties between the business communities of the two countries.  The commercial section of the Turkish consulate in Karachi is ready to fully assist Karachi’s business and industrial community who wish to improve trade and investment ties with their Turkish counterparts. To deal with trade-related conflicts and protect the interest of customers, he suggested a private-to-private sector committee be established between the two countries.

Covid 19 News

Turkey has been congratulated on it’s battle against Coronavirus, and the recent success in vaccinating over 1.4 million citizens in just 2 weeks, by Dr. Batry Berdyklychev, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative to Turkey.  Dr Batry told reporters that the country “really uses its national vaccination program and capacity strongly and efficiently.”  He added “Turkey has a balanced and comprehensive approach both in prevention and control of the outbreak. An efficient testing mechanism and modern contact tracing methods exist in Turkey. As WHO, it instilled in us hope to see more than 1 million people vaccinated in a very brief period,” he said.

The official acknowledged that the country’s measures, including a 56-hour partial lockdown during weekends, night-time curfews during weekdays, people adhering to the mandatory mask rule and social distancing helped reduce the number of cases. “Those strong measures and the vaccination campaign are efficient, and they should prevail,” he said. Berdyklychev said Turkey follows a priority program based on the WHO’s recommendations for vaccinations.”

Economy

The World Bank has agreed to fund a project, worth $300 million, which will help Turkey’s 346 Organized Industrial Zones (OIZs) to become more efficient, environmentally sustainable, and competitive

The project, which will be implemented by the country’s Industry and Technology Ministry, will support investments in basic infrastructure — such as roads, water and gas pipelines, and logistics facilities with a smaller part of the loan being dedicated to enhancing the competitiveness OIZs through investment in innovation and training centres, linking OIZs with science and research organizations, and academia,” the bank said.

 

It was announced yesterday that one of Turkey’s major online delivery services, Getir, has opened operations in London.

Getir, which flourished during the Covid-19 pandemic, delivers various products to it’s users, from groceries to ready-to-eat foods, in an average of 10 minutes – day or night!  The Getir algorithm allows users to access a cloud of goods and basic needs and request super-fast deployment from stock warehouses located across key areas.

The fast delivery service app received a total of $38 million in investment from a group of investors led by Silicon Valley’s Michael Moritz, himself leading the investment with an injection of $25 million through Crankstart’s investment fund.

Mr Nazım Salur, the co-founder and CEO of the fast-delivery startup Getir said “Our application solves problems in cities with traffic problems. Therefore, we have identified a number of major metropolises outside Istanbul. If you come at problems with the right solution, it is impossible for people not to respond.  We will endear this two-syllable Turkish word in the UK, too.”   It is reported that Mr Salur is looking to expand his business into other major cities, such as Paris and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

 

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