13 May 2014 News Roundup


A new draft bill on violence against children and women, the possibility of a joint presidential candidate from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and transparency crisis in the Turkish parliament have occupied the news in Turkey last week. PM Erdogan’s reaction to the Chairman of Bar Association in Turkey in the Council of State’s Anniversary has sparked new controversies. Lastly, the talks between the Turkish government and the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Ocalan are on the headlines. In the economy, inflation data has been revealed to be higher than expected while GDP growth forecasts are being slightly decreased.

Prime Minister Erdogan stormed out of the Council of State’s 146th Anniversary.

PM Erdogan interrupted Chairman of Bar Association in Turkey Metin Feyzioğlu’s speech, which Erdogan deemed too long, too critical towards the government and too political for a judiciary speech. Chairman spoke for over an hour although he was allocated 20 minutes for his speech. Erdogan stated that he will never attend judicial ceremonies where a person like Mr Feyzioglu who represents ‘old Turkey’s political mentality’ speaks.

The CHP criticised the PM Erdogan’s actions during the ceremony, defining it as devoid of political manners and decency. Deputy Leader of the CHP alleged that PM’s actions were an emotional reaction towards the low results in the AKP’s opinion polls about his presidential candidacy in August.

The Leader of the MHP interpreted the events as a staged dispute, organised in order to increase the PM Erdogan’s popularity as a presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, Pervin Buldan Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP disputed Erdogan’s criticism that Mr Feyzioglu gave a political speech and that politics was the domain of only politicians.

Mr Feyzioglu rejected the claims that his speech was political and that he was working for the U.S. based preacher Fethullah Gülen.

The MHP proposed a joint candidate to oppose Erdogan in the run for Turkey’s presidency.

The CHP remains open to this possibility. According to the Leader of the CHP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğu, each party will propose a name, and discussions will follow.

Corruption allegations are denied by the former Ministers in the parliament.

Former Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan responded to the claims that he had accepted a bribe from the businessman Reza Zarrab. Caglayan denied that he was bribed with a luxury watch, but stated that Mr Zarrab bought the watch but Mr Caglayan paid for it as his name is on the guarantee certificate. The watch company announced that the guarantee certificate does not necessarily show the actual buyer and the company do not advertise on newspapers. Caglayan had claimed that he saw the ad for the watch on a newspaper and Mr Zarrab happened to be in the same room whilst Mr Caglayan made the purchase on the phone.

The legal battle for transparency in the Turkish parliament continued.

The CHP had filed four separate motions that summaries of readings regarding corruption allegations for former ministers to be read out in the parliament. However, the parliament with majority had rejected a full and separate reading. An MHP MP filed a complaint against the parliament’s response to an Ankara court. The court demanded defense from the Turkish Parliament with regards to why the parliament rejected these motions.

The details of the new draft bill on violence against children and women proposed by the government are as follows:

  • Heavy life sentences for crimes committed against children will be increased from 30 to 39 years, and life sentences given for crimes committed against children will be increased from 24 to 33 years.
  • The clause stipulating, ‘in the case of sexual offenses, the perpetrator will receive a higher punishment if it is proven that the victim has suffered physical and mental injuries’, will be removed.
  • Verbal sexual harassment will be punished with a prison sentence between 3 months and 2 years. If this is directed towards a child the punishment will be between 6 months and 4 years.
  • If physical harassment is directed towards an adult, the perpetrator will be punished with prison sentence between 2 and 7 years, if directed towards a child the punishment will be between 4 and 8 years.
  • The punishment for raping an adult has been increased from between 7 and 12 years to 12 and 20 years. The punishment for raping a child has been increased from between 8 and 15 years to 16 and 20 years. The punishment will be increased by 50% if the crime is committed by a family member or in public housing or accommodation.
  • The punishment for incestuous sexual relations, even with the consent of both parties, has increased from between 6 months and 2 years to between 6 and 15 years.  The definition of ‘incest’ has, for the first time, been introduced to the Turkish law.
  • The punishment for growing cannabis for the purpose of creating marijuana will be increased from a prison sentence between 1 to 7 years, to 5 to 12 years.
  • The local administrative courts will be re-structured. The courts will have the jurisdiction of deciding on appeals requests.
  • The courts will have two chambers, which may be increased by the High Court of Judges and Prosecutors with the request of the Ministry of Justice.
  • Administrative courts will be granted the ability of urgent judgment. These trials will have to be decided upon within 30 days of the maturation of the trial.
  • The criminal courts of peace will be eliminated and the penal court of first instance will take on their jurisdiction. The length of servitude for becoming a candidate for certain positions including the first head of the court of cassation, chief public prosecutor will be increased.
  • The Ministry of Justice will provide pre-occupational, post occupational training as well as training on the job for members of the judiciary.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has condemned Turkey to pay 90 million Euros to the Republic of Cyprus as compensation for the 1974 operation into the island by the Turkish forces.

The court ruled that Turkey violated 14 points of the 11 clauses of the European Convention of Human Rights. The historic ruling can affect the negotiations between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Cyprus. Foreign Minister Davutoglu stated that this ruling is not binding according to international law. 30 million Euros will be paid as compensation for Greek families who have lost members during the 1974 operation.

Ocalan’s words regarding autonomy and alleged dealings with the Turkish government have sparked debates.

Reports of an agreement between the Turkish government and the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, on establishing autonomy in the eastern region of Turkey have increased public debate on the issue. Pervin Buldan HDP MP indicated that the government and Ocalan could have reached an agreement on two laws; Regional Autonomous Governing Law and Democratic Civil Society law. However, the office of the HDP refused to confirm the claims of Ms. Buldan.

Ocalan has also sent a public message to the Democratic Islam Congress:

  • The Islamic concept of the Ummah is not compatible with the modern nation state system.
  • Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah are contemporary representations of capitalism and fascism, hence Islam needs to be institutionalised in Kurdistan and in other Muslim lands.

On a different note…

  • The French President Françoise Hollande has called on Turkey to recognise the Armenian genocide.
  • The British PM David Cameron stated that in the case of Turkey’s entry to the EU, he does not want to see a significant shift in the number of Turkish workers entering the UK. He prioritised the protection of local jobs. 
  • The impact of Syrian refugees is felt at times in moments of rising tension in Turkey. In Ankara, a building where some Syrian refugees resided was stoned and set on fire by a group who reportedly had had an argument with the refugees. Many were injured. It is unknown whether this was a nationalist attack.
  • The last seven journalists held under arrest under the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK, the urban wing of the PKK) case have been released.

The April inflation data has been announced higher than expected, which strengthened the view that the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) will continue its tight monetary policy and disperse the expectations of a possible rate decrease from the CBRT.

Along with the increasing appetite for emerging market risks, the expectations on the continuation of tight monetary policy triggered further inflows of capital to Turkish capital markets. Further, the CBRT decreased the daily USD sale amount to $20 million due to the improvement in the balance of payments. This has suppressed the currency against the USD for further 1.2% and TRY went down to 2.0766 against USD. The impact of capital inflows to Turkey is not limited to the value of the currency. Along with the announcements from developing countries on the continuation of loose monetary policy increased the interest on financial assets with relatively higher risks. Ukraine crisis also supported the outflow trend from Russia towards other emerging markets, mainly to Turkey. The fall in the risk premium of Turkish Eurobonds by 19 basis points to 214 reflects the global return of the emerging markets.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revised its expectation on the world GDP growth and international trade to be moderate for the next two years and revised its GDP growth expectation to 3.6% from 3.4%.

The OECD forecasted that economic development, unemployment and the inflation will continue to improve moderately in the US while the improvement in the EU will be much slower. The economic conjuncture in both the US and the EU is closely related to Turkey’s economic growth. Accordingly, Turkey is forecasted to grow 2.8% (versus 3.8% previously) and the inflation is forecasted to increase 8% (versus 6.1% previously).  The OECD also noted that the competitive advantage that was secured in the last few years could increase the share of Turkey in the international trade if it is preserved. Further, the OECD advised that foreign direct investments could decrease the external sources of fragilities.

Industrial production increased by 4.2% on annual basis when it adjusted to seasonal effects. This was interpreted as positive implication for first quarter of growth.

Istanbul Chamber of Certified Public Accounts released a report named “Foreignisation of Turkish Banking Sector” which revealed the shareholding of non-residents in the banking sector shares. Accordingly, 37 out of 49 banks were partially owned by non-residents. Since 2001, there have been 21 takeovers by non-residents in Turkey, which amounted to $20.563 billion. Non-residents made $4.8 billion profits in 2013 adding up to $17 billion since 2001.


CEFTUS Insights Editors