Home Research Briefings 3 June 2014 News Roundup
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3 June 2014 News Roundup

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 Photo credit: Internet Havadis, www.internethavadis.com
 

Turkey has had another turbulent week due to protests and gatherings for the anniversary of the Gezi protests and clashes between the Gendarme and protesters over the construction of police stations and high-security police bases at the borders of Turkey. The Constitutional Court ruled the ban on YouTube is a violation of rights although access to YouTube remains blocked in Turkey. New regulations on mines are being introduced by the government. The AKP officially announced that PM Erdogan will run for the presidential election in August. PM Erdogan’s criticism of interest rates policy stirred up discussions over the Central Bank’s independence. It is announced that Turkey’s trade deficit shrunk significantly in April.

May 31st marked the first anniversary of the Gezi Protests.

The anniversary of the Gezi Protests were celebrated throughout Turkey, with protests and gatherings in multiple cities including Ankara, Istanbul, Ankara, Adana, İzmir, Hatay, Samsun, Sivas, İzmit, Mersin, Sinop, Çorum, Ordu, Kayseri, Eskişehir. Police brutality was especially observed in Ankara and Istanbul.

Gezi Protests in 2013 in numbers:

11 deaths

11 eyes were seriously injured (sight losses in most cases)

62 traumatic injuries to the head

9000 people injured

Thousands of people detained

Gezi Anniversary 2014 in numbers:

5000 people gathered for the anniversary of the Gezi Protests in Eskişehir

130 people were detained in Istanbul (according to the information by the Istanbul Bar Association at 23:00 May 31st)

50 people were detained in İzmir

47 people were detained in Ankara

27 people were detained in Adana

25 000 policemen were deployed to Taksim, Şişli and Beşiktaş (three neighbourhoods in Istanbul) by the government.

50 TOMA (Vehicle for Interference in Social Events) were sent to the same three neighbourhoods.

All detainees in Istanbul and Ankara were released on 2 June 2014.

Members of public were not allowed to commemorate the death of Ethem Sarısülük, who was killed during the Gezi Protests last year, in Ankara. Only his family was allowed to enter the area where he had died. Sarısülük’s family was there with the family of Ali İsmail Korkmaz, who had died in Hatay during the Gezi protests last year.

A reporter for CNN International was detained on live TV in Istanbul, while covering the Gezi protests. The reporter and his crew were released after half an hour.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks has condemned the excessive of use Turkey’s police force against the protesters on 31 May. He said that concerns have been on the rise regarding the state of human rights in Turkey.

31 May also marked the anniversary of the Mavi Marmara incident, where 9 Turkish citizens had died while taking aid to Gazza. Approximately 3000 people gathered in Istanbul to commemorate their deaths. The police’s treatment of these protesters did not involve the kind of brutality shown to the Gezi protesters, raising concerns of double standards and unequal treatment by the government of its citizens, depending on their ideologies.

New recordings of ministers continue to be revealed.

A new recording revealed that former Environment and Urban Planning minister Erdogan Bayraktar allegedly acknowledged taking bribes from some businessmen for a construction company to build luxury residences. He was reported to mention the need to keep the contractors happy as they received “a lot of money from the contractors”.

The PKK’s youth organization YDG-H blocked the Diyarbakir-Lice road since 24 May.

The protesters blocked the roads in protest of the construction of police stations and high-security police bases at the borders of the country. Turkish security forces attacked the protesters with gas bombs and plastic bullets, which left many protesters severely injured in the area.

Turks and Armenians release a joint statement calling for peace.

Intellectuals and activists from both Turkey and Armenia have released a common statement. The signatories are demanding the beginning of a peace process. The statement is based on the common dream of the signatories; which demand Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide, for the borders between the two countries to be opened and recognition of non – Muslim citizens of Turkey as full citizens.

The Constitutional Court has granted its verdict regarding the ban on YouTube.

The Turkish Constitutional Court has ruled that the ban on YouTube was a violation of citizens’ rights in Turkey. YouTube was blocked in Turkey on 27 March 2014. Following the ban, numerous academicians and politicians had made individual applications to the constitutional court. The new ruling will be sent to the Presidency of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Communications and Transport.

A new bill has been drafted regarding the operation of mines.

After the incident in Soma Mine which killed 301 miners, the law regulating the management of mines has been re-drafted. According to the amended version, privatised firms that operate with a royalty system will not be able to sub-contract its employees. The workers will work a maximum of 30 hours (this used to be 48) underground and they will receive 6 bonuses per year. However, click here for details on other draft bills that may expand the use of sub-contractors in Turkey.

The CHP and the BDP confirmed their electoral success in Yalova and Agri.

Results of the elections in the eastern city of Agri and the western city of Yalova have been repeated. The Peace and Demoracy Party (BDP) in Agri and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in Yalova won the municipalities. The CHP had won against the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Yalova with 6 votes in the 30 March Local Elections. The AKP had rejected the results and the demands for re-counts had actually led the electoral council to schedule new voting. This time the CHP has won with a difference of approximately 200 votes.

In Agri, the BDP had won against the AKP with 10 more votes on 30 March. The AKP had rejected the results and new voting was scheduled after several demands for recounting of votes. This time, the BDP has won with approximately 3000 more votes than the AKP. The presence of a strong BDP candidate Sırrı Sakik is said to have made a significant difference.

The AKP is preparing for the upcoming presidential election.

The AKP is reshuffling heads of municipal and provincial offices for over 10 cities, including Ankara and İzmir. The move is interpreted that the AKP is transforming its leadership, ahead of the presidential elections, in cities where the results of the municipal elections have not been satisfactory.

Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay has made a public statement, saying that the AKP’s candidate for the upcoming presidential elections will be Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, while they are hoping to persuade the current President Abdullah Gül to lead the AKP in the 2015 elections.

Food imports with GMOs can now enter Turkey.

A recent hot topic in Turkey’s agenda is the permission of GMOs in foodstuffs. The new regulations allow for products that have GMOs to be imported as long as they are not above 0,9%. These food products are only to be used as feeding animals rather than in human foods. However, critiques fear that this may open the way for GMOs to be allowed in foods in the future.

On a different note…

  • Mazlumder (the Association for Human Rights and Solidarity for the Oppressed) has released a report on the situation of Syrian refugee women outside of the refugee camps in eastern Turkey. According to the report, many are sexually harassed and forced into sexual labour.
  • Owner of a twitter account called “Allah CC” has been sentenced to 15 months in prison, for writing content that was disrespectful for a certain group of people.
  • Three Turkish engineers have been killed in Afghanistan, due to a suicide attack on a bus they were in.
  • Visa requirements for Moldova and Belarus have been lifted.
  • A new law, that is to going to be enforced on 11 June, will ban any advertisements and sample sales of alcohol in stores. The selling of alcohol on highways will also be banned.

Despite PM Erdogan’s criticisms, the governor of Turkey’s Central Bank underlined plans to lower the interest rate slowly.

On the other hand, the governor of Central Bank of Republic of Turkey (CBRT), both in Monetary Meeting Committee and in an European Central Bank (ECB) conference, noted that the global capital flows as well as food prices are responsible for the acceleration in inflation and yet the moderate growth in economic activity will continue. He emphasised once more the macroeconomic measures are taken in the fight against inflation. He also added with a lower tone that it is necessary to keep domestic interest rates higher than global rates for financial stability.

The governor implicitly referred to the criticism on CBRT’s interest rate policy raised publicly by PM Erdogan. Erdogan had shared his views on interest rates policy with journalists, saying that the CBRT increases interest rates by 5% but decreases by 0.5%. However, Ministers Ali Babacan and Mehmet Simsek, who have strong credibility in the financial markets, both domestic and international, emphasised the Central Bank’s independence.

Clearly, criticisms and even pressure on the central bank leaves investors on their toes. The bill issued last week were affected by the way in which the yields were suppressed further with expectations that the CBRT will cut rates even further due to pressure from government. All this tension will be resolved at the presentation of the governor to the cabinet. The official presentation is released on the website of the CBRT but what has been discussed will be closely watched by the markets.

It is reported that the governor, Basci, explained their interest rate policy to PM Erdogan that if the CBRT does not respond to the economic shock and leave the short-term interest rates untouched, the country is likely to reach a point where both inflation and interest rates increases. In the case of preventive measures, similar to 5% increase in interest rates in January due to front loaded monetary tightening, acceleration in inflation stops. Further moderate rate cuts both keep the interest rates low and meet the inflation target.

Inflation statistics are to be released this week.

Tomorrow the inflation statistics, an important benchmark for both the CBRT and the investors, will also be released. It seems the tension shifted onto the economy decision makers after prolonged political tension in the country since last year June. Considering the data that will be released and possible leaks from today’s CBRT vs. cabinet meeting, the following week will be interesting to watch.

DATA CALENDAR

Date

Data

Expectations (%)

Prior (%)

02 June 2014

HSBC Turkey Manufacturing PMI

50.1

51.1

03 June 2014

Producer Price Index

12.98

03 June 2014

Consumer Price Index

9.90

9.38

09 June 2014

Industrial Production

4.2

Turkey’s trade deficit shrunk significantly in April.

Trade deficit in April shrank 30.3% compared to last year. The relative and perhaps temporary improvement in the main export markets of Turkey (such as the EU) was the most effective factor for the 7.9% increase in export. Trade balance was also supported by a 9.5% decrease in imports due to slower growth from domestic demand. Accordingly, the exports increased by 8.5% to USD 53.7 billion and imports decreased by 4.2% to USD 78.1 billion in April compared to last year.

The Central Bank’s Financial Stability Report warned banks of their loans to deposit ratio.

Meanwhile, the CBRT released its Financial Stability Report (FSR). The CBRT, echoing almost all international credit-rating agencies, emphasised that the banking sector should increase its endurance to increasing financial risks related to a possible rate increase from FED. In this regard, the CBRT stated that the ratio of loans to deposit is under close watch and the CBRT can pay interest to required reserves if it is deemed to keep this ratio at lower levels.

 

CEFTUS Insights Editors

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CEFTUS

The Centre for Turkey Studies is an independent and non-partisan organisation inaugurated in April 2011 with the support of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in London. “ to serve as a Turkey-focused public policy forum for the British public and its communities originating from Turkey, and to create a dialogue between experts from Turkey and […] Read more

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