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Turkish PM given hero's welcome
Written by BBC   
Friday, 30 January 2009 08:54
Turkey's PM has received a hero's welcome on his return to Istanbul after he stormed out of a debate about Gaza at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan had reacted angrily when he was refused the chance to respond to Israeli President Shimon Peres' defence of the operation

Thousands of people turned out in the city to greet Mr Erdogan's plane.

He told them Mr Peres' language and tone had been unacceptable, so he acted to stand up for Turkish honour.

"I only know that I have to protect the honour of Turkey and Turkish people," said Mr Erdogan.

"I am not a chief of a tribe. I am the prime minister of Turkey. I have to do what I have to do."

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul said there had been huge anger in Turkey at Israel's operation in Gaza and there now appears to be widespread support for Mr Erdogan's actions in Davos.

Huge crowds were waiting at Istanbul airport in the early hours of the morning, with many people waving Turkish and Palestinian flags.

Correspondents said the crowds were shouting "Turkey is with you," and that some were holding signs greeting Mr Erdogan as "a new world leader".
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Turkish PM Erdogan storms out of Davos debate
Written by Agencies   
Friday, 30 January 2009 08:51
The Turkish prime minister has stormed out of a heated debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos over Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked out of the televised debate on Thursday, after the moderator refused to allow him to rebut the Israeli president's justification about the war that left about 1,300 Gazans dead.

Erdogan said: "I find it very sad that people applaud what you said. There have been many people killed. And I think that it is very wrong and it is not humanitarian."

Ignatius twice attempted to finish the debate, saying, "We really do need to get people to dinner."

Erdogan then said: "Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I don't think I will come back to Davos after this."

Mr Erdogan, sitting beside Prof Schwab in a press conference, said that he had walked out because David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist chairing the session, had not allowed him to reply to comments about the conflict in Gaza by Mr Peres.
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Zigana avalanche kills 10 mountain trekkers
Written by Agencies   
Monday, 26 January 2009 07:57
Ten hikers were killed and eight survived after they were caught in an avalanche in northeastern Turkey.

Two survived with injuries. Six others survived without injury. The group of 18 hikers was walking on Zigana Mountain, the site of a small ski resort in the Gümüşhane province, near the Black Sea Coast, when the avalanche struck.

Local governor Enver Salihoğlu told private news channel NTV that two injured hikers were in good condition. The surviving hikers said the group consisted of 18 people and the governor said all of them had been pulled out of the snow. The search continued, however, in case any other people remained trapped.

Some witnesses said the avalanche came after a gun shot, however, a member of the Search and Rescue Association, or AKUT, said a gunshot is a weak possibility as a cause of the avalanche.

"Sudden weather changes should be calculated. It is a weak possibility for a gunshot to cause an avalanche," said AKUT member Yılmaz Sevgül. Nasuh Mahruki, the head of AKUT said the accident was a walking group accident, not a mountain climbing accident. "It is apparent that they hit the road without an avalanche test. It is very difficult for 18 people to remain under an avalanche," he said.
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Turkish PM signals fresh drive for EU
Written by Financial Times   
Monday, 19 January 2009 11:40
Turkey’s prime minister arrived in Brussels on Sunday aiming to revive the country’s stalled bid for European Union membership, which is under threat from tensions over Cyprus, political stasis within Turkey and waning EU enthusiasm for enlargement.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is making his first visit to EU headquarters since December 2004, when he secured the opening of accession talks after tense negotiations. Almost immediately, a series of political crises distracted Turkey from the reforms needed for accession, EU opinion became more overtly hostile, and a sense of mutual disillusion set in.

The coming year will be critical. In December, a report by the International Crisis Group urged both sides to “break out of this downward spiral before one or the other breaks off the negotiations, which could then well prove impossible to start again”.

The biggest uncertainty lies in the outcome of peace talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. A settlement would remove one of the biggest hurdles to Turkish accession. But if talks fail and Turkey does not open ports to Greek Cypriot traffic by this year’s deadline, it could face calls to suspend membership talks entirely.
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Turkey's GDP Grew 0.5% in Quarter
Written by The Wall Street Journal   
Tuesday, 16 December 2008 08:07
Turkey's economy slowed to a near halt in the third quarter, raising the risk of a recession as the government gets ready for fresh loan talks with the International Monetary Fund.

Turkish gross domestic product expanded by 0.5% in the third quarter from the year-earlier period, the slowest rate in six years, the statistical office said. That rate came after a 2.3% annual expansion in the second quarter and 6.7% annual growth in the first three months of the year.

The agency also said the unemployment rate rose to 10.3% in the three-month period of August-October, from 9.8% in July-September.

The slowing growth makes it likely that the central bank will cut its 16.25% policy interest rate, the highest inflation-adjusted real rate of any major economy, when its monetary-policy committee meets Thursday. The inability of small and medium-size enterprises to take out loans is leading to job cuts and lower exports, the State Planning Organization said last week.
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A Boost For Turkey
Written by Forbes   
Saturday, 22 November 2008 09:13
Government pledges to stimulate the economy and the prospect of IMF aid help lift the beleaguered lira.

The Turkish lira was one of many emerging-market currencies to suffer from the financial meltdown, falling more than a third against the dollar between September and October. But the Turkish government's promise of fresh measures to boost the economy, along with the central bank's determination to boost foreign-exchange liquidity, saw confidence return to the lira on Friday.

The dollar, the pound and the euro all lost ground to the Turkish lira during midday trading in Europe on Friday, easing recent pressure from the financial crisis and the Turkish central bank's half-point rate cut on Wednesday. The dollar slumped against the Turkish lira, to 1.6758 lira, from 1.7318, while the euro fell to 2.1187 lira, from 2.1565.

The Turkish government promised action to strengthen the economy on Friday, with economy minister Mehmet Simsek promising a stimulus-package announcement from prime minister Tayyip Erdogan later this month. The package is reportedly designed to boost employment and increase lending as the economy flags.

Meanwhile, the Turkish central bank's governor, Durmus Yilmaz, said there could be extra measures taken to support foreign-exchange liquidity. Already the central bank has cut foreign-exchange lending rates for the dollar and the euro, and extended the borrowing maturity for the currencies to one month, from one week.

But the real crutch for the Turkish lira is likely to be the International Monetary Fund. Sources close to the government have been reported as saying that a provisional package from the IMF could be worth $20-$40 billion; this would improve the outlook for Turkey considerably and would also allow the government some freedom to implement its policy boosts.

In fact, the IMF loan is so important that the lira could face a renewed sell-off if the final figure falls short of expectations. Although Morgan Stanley economist Tevfik Aksoy said a $20.0 billion loan would be enough to meet Turkey's external financing requirement, anything below this would disappoint the market. "If the market starts to price in a funding size of nearly $40.0 billion, that may see the currency depreciate," he said.
 
Turkish markets on tenterhooks over IMF suspension-analysts
Written by Reuters   
Thursday, 29 January 2009 07:57

Turkey's financial markets face a new bout of volatility and the country's risk premium may rise after the government suspended talks with the IMF on a new deal for 10 days, analysts said on Wednesday.
Turkey has been locked in negotiations with the IMF over a major deal, which would boost investor confidence over the outlook for the lira and the country's 2009 financing shortfall, as it seeks to cope with the global financial crisis.
A new loan deal would help soothe investors as the country needs to roll over debt estimated at $100 billion and a current account deficit seen around $25 billion in 2009.
"Delaying the IMF deal means higher vulnerability for Turkey in the face of uncertainties in the current global markets and an overall higher risk premium in the currency, in equity prices, in yields, everything," said UBS bank economist Reinhard Cluse said.
Turkey's lira currency firmed 1.4 percent and the main stock exchange <.XU100> rose 2.8 percent after suspension of the talks were first announced on Monday on the hope that Turkey and the IMF would sort out disagreements and sign a deal.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to meet IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky on Wednesday night in Davos, IMF spokesman William Murray said.

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Energy pushes Turkey and EU closer
Written by International Herald Tribune   
Tuesday, 20 January 2009 08:21
The European Union has to speed up membership talks with Turkey because it badly needs the nation as a reliable energy partner, José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said Monday.

Barroso said he would push to get talks moving again on Turkey's EU membership bid as the bloc searches for alternative energy routes after an energy dispute between Ukraine and Russia left many EU nations short of natural gas.

One option is the Nabucco pipeline, which is being planned to bypass the feuding nations and carry Caspian natural gas through Turkey to Europe.

"Turkey can in fact be something that is in the interest of all European citizens," Barroso said after meeting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who is visiting the EU for the first time in more than four years. "Good cooperation on energy matters."

Erdogan said his country was ready to play a key role to help EU energy security. "Turkey is not coming to the EU to become a burden; we are coming to relieve some burdens off the shoulders of the European Union," he said.

Erdogan said his country was acutely aware of its importance to the EU as a new energy partner because of the gas dispute. "We are aware of our responsibility," Erdogan said. "We don't want to use it as a weapon."
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Shoe Hurled at Bush Flies Off Turkish Maker’s Shelves
Written by Bloomberg   
Saturday, 20 December 2008 10:59
The shoe hurled at President George W. Bush has sent sales soaring at the Turkish maker as orders pour in from Iraq, the U.S. and Iran.

The brown, thick-soled “Model 271” may soon be renamed “The Bush Shoe” or “Bye-Bye Bush,” Ramazan Baydan, who owns the Istanbul-based producer Baydan Ayakkabicilik San. & Tic., said in a telephone interview today.

“We’ve been selling these shoes for years but, thanks to Bush, orders are flying in like crazy,” he said. “We’ve even hired an agency to look at television advertising.”

Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi hurled a pair at Bush at a news conference in Baghdad on Dec. 14. Both shoes missed the president after he ducked. The journalist was jailed and is seeking a pardon from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
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Pakistani, Afghan, Turkish Presidents Pledge Cooperation in Terrorism Fight
Written by VOA   
Saturday, 06 December 2008 08:16
The Presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey have pledged to increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism, during talks held in Istanbul Friday. Turkey hosted the talks as part of an ongoing initiative to improve long strained relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. But, the terror attacks in Mumbai cast a shadow over the proceedings.
 
In a joint declaration the Presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey committed themselves to strengthening their efforts against what they called the scourge of terrorism. The statement followed a day of talks aimed at developing initiatives to enhance bi-lateral relations and co-operation.  

Pakistan-Afghanistan relations have been strained in recent years over the issue of Pakistan's northwestern tribal regions being used as a base for Taliban fighters seeking to overthrowing the Afghan government.

But Indian accusations that a terrorist group based in Pakistan was responsible for the recent Mumbai attack dominated the joint news conference held at the end of the talks on Friday. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari sought to stress the positive.
 
"Our position is that we've always been and we still are the victims of terrorism and I have read these reports, Pakistan is currently doing its own internal investigation and is waiting for concrete proof to be handed over to us for further investigation into the matter," he said.
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Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?
Written by Smithsonian Magazine   
Friday, 21 November 2008 14:02
Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, Turkey's stunning Gobekli Tepe upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization.

Six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey, Klaus Schmidt has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time: massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery. The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, is convinced it's the site of the world's oldest temple.

"Guten Morgen," he says at 5:20 a.m. when his van picks me up at my hotel in Urfa. Thirty minutes later, the van reaches the foot of a grassy hill and parks next to strands of barbed wire. We follow a knot of workmen up the hill to rectangular pits shaded by a corrugated steel roof—the main excavation site. In the pits, standing stones, or pillars, are arranged in circles. Beyond, on the hillside, are four other rings of partially excavated pillars. Each ring has a roughly similar layout: in the center are two large stone T-shaped pillars encircled by slightly smaller stones facing inward. The tallest pillars tower 16 feet and, Schmidt says, weigh between seven and ten tons. As we walk among them, I see that some are blank, while others are elaborately carved: foxes, lions, scorpions and vultures abound, twisting and crawling on the pillars' broad sides.
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