28 October 2014 News Round-up

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The ruling party’s policies regarding the conflict in Kobane and its implications for the peace process within Turkey have dominated headlines. The economic agenda was ripe with new data on the struggling health of the Turkish economy amidst the political instability.

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Imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, said in his meeting with People’s Democracy Party (HDP) MPs that a new phase for the Kurdish peace process has been launched. He commented that the protests on 6 and 7 October in southeastern Turkey were a breaking point and that all parties should align themselves with peace talks.

The HDP is publicly demanding that Ocalan’s conditions must improve and a secretariat under him should be formed to work on nine matters such as security, education and women.

Meanwhile armed tensions continued to increase in the southeast of Turkey.

Three Turkish soldiers were killed in Yuksekova, Hakkari in southeastern Turkey. The soldiers were not in uniform on the day and the Ministry of Interior suspects that the PKK is involved in murder of these soldiers. As a separate incident, three members of the PKK were killed by security forces in Kars in eastern Turkey following to reports that four members of the PKK attacked a hydro-electric power station. Also, over the weekend, Governor of eastern province Tunceli has closed off entry to the city of Tunceli on the grounds that a cemetery for PKK militants was to be opened.

Prime Minister Davutoglu stated that the reconciliation process is a step to ensure national unity and is aimed only at the Kurdish citizens, not the outlawed PKK. The PKK is reported to be responsible for the killing of three Turkish soldiers in Hakkari. Calling for all citizens to come together against terrorism, Davutoglu stated that he gave instructions to Governor of Hakkari, Yakup Canbolat, to find the individuals responsible and bring them before court. Urging that public order is of utmost importance and the main priority for the government, he stated that in order for the reconciliation process to blossom PKK must lay down its arms.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc stated that “we are not dependent on the peace process”, increasing concerns of the government’s commitment to the peace process with the Kurds.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that the Kurdish town of Kobane was probably designed by a mind greater than the Democratic Union Party (PYD) calling it the “plot within a plot”. He underlined that the government will allow its land to be crossed by the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga in order to boost Kobani’s defenses.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a press conference with Latvian President Andris Berzins on his official visit to the country, stated that America delivered aid to Kobane despite Turkey’s objections. Erdogan said that the PKK and the PYD are the same and that the American aid is going to a terrorist organisation. Erdogan also added that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) would have been the rightful partner to receive weapons from the USA.

On October 24th, the PYD Co-chair Salih Muslim spoke in an interview with CNNTurk, in which he responded to Erdogan’s statements on the PYD being a terrorist organisation. Muslim said that Erdogan comes up with excuses as the Turkish government is against any formation of Kurdish identity and presence, hence Erdogan is weary of a democratic Syria formed with the aid of the Kurds. Regarding the role of FSA, Muslim stated that it is already fighting ISIS alongside the YPG, but if FSA wants to support the YPG they should open new battlefronts in order to relieve the pressure on Kobane.

The PYD Co-chair Salih Muslim has said in an interview to ANF (Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê) that YPG forces have inflicted heavy losses on ISIS forces and Kobane victory and the end of the conflict was near. Muslim added that the Turkish support to ISIS gangs had played a big role in clashes continuing for so long in Kobane. He stated that Turkey’s intention is to create a buffer zone on the Rojava-North Kurdistan border, however, he said that this was not going to happen. He stated the importance of the “Dohuk Accord”, a significant step towards Kurdish unity. This agreement, signed after 8 days of talks, has three articles: joint administration, joint military force and political union to be forged. Dohuk Accord will not only bring unity to Kurds, Muslim said, but also freedom for the Arab and the Assyrian communities.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has added fuel over the already churning row between Ankara and Washington repeating that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is no different to ISIS and is a terrorist organisation, adding that Ankara will support the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Iraqi Kurdish fighters in the fight against ISIS. According to Cavusoglu, everyone assesses the situation according to their own interests and Turkey could help the Peshmergas in Northern Iraq as they are perceived as security forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

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Parliament’s Corruption Commission summoned former Interior Minister, Muammer Guler’s son, Baris Guler and businessman Reza Zarraf. The former testified to the commission and rejected all allegations and the latter refused to testify. The prosecutor had dropped all corruption allegations against the some members of the government on grounds that evidence was not sufficient for a corruption case.

As part of an extensive operation aiming to crack down Gulenists within security forces, four senior police officers have been arrested for alleged involvement in wiretapping. It is alleged that top officials including President Erdogan were wiretapped.

Few days after the decision of the prosecutors to not press charges against executive board of a construction company for death of 10 workers in an elevator accident in the construction site last month, a new labour accident occurred in Kadikoy, Istanbul. A 22 year old worker died after scaffolding collapsed from the 14th floor of a building under construction. The debate on work safety in Turkey is open again and the construction companies have been accused of not respecting and fulfilling most of the basic security measures.

According to BIANET July-September 2014 Media Monitoring Report, 19 journalists have been imprisoned in October. 21 reporters, one local newspaper building, two internet sites have been attacked. In the last three months, 35 journalists were laid off or forced to quit their position. 12 of the imprisoned journalists are from Kurdish media and they have been arrested for ties with “illegal organisations” under the Anti-Terror Law and the Turkish Penal Code.

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Data released this week regarding Turkey’s economy revealed below;

  • Capacity usage rate declined 1.5% annually in September
  • Real sector confidence index declined by 0.7 points in October from the previous month. Seasonally adjusted data showed an increase of 2.1 points between September and October
  • Seasonally adjusted construction sector confidence index declined by 2.4% from September to October
  • Seasonally adjusted retail exporters confidence has increased 0.1%.
  • Services sector confidence index declined by 1.1%, again in October

Current account information for August has been released. The deficit figure turned out to be lower than market expectations, at  2.8 billion USD. This was a 35.4% decline from the August 2013 deficit figure. As exports increased 6.1%, imports decreased by 4.5% in August.

The budget deficit was also released for September. Budget expenditures increased by 13.5% compared to the same month of the previous year, while revenues only increased by 0.7% in the same period. This meant that for the period between January and September, the central government budget gave a deficit of 11.9 billion TRY. 

A report published by Credit Suisse, entitled the Global Wealth Report was analyzed by the financial columnist Ugur Gurses and the following conclusions were made, mainly indicating that the wealth of the middle class was eroding in Turkey;

  1. The share of the wealth of the top 10% from the country’s total wealth increased from 66.7% in 2000 to 70.2% in 2007 and to 77.4% in 2014
  2. Meanwhile, the share of the middle class that has a wealth of between 10,000 to 100,000 USD decreased from 30.3% in 2013 to 22.8% in 2014.
  3. The share of people with a wealth of less than 10,000 USD has increased to 75.3%

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Photo credit: aljazeera.com.tr

 

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