Category Archives: Middle East – Turkey

Turkey: Berat, Erdogan’s son-in-law resigns as deputy head of sovereign wealth fund

Advertisements

Yet Albayrak still held on to his post as deputy head of the sovereign wealth fund, which was created in 2016 and now manages state assets officially valued at $22.6 billion.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law quit as the deputy head of Turkey’s huge sovereign wealth fund, completing a fall from grace that began with his surprise resignation as finance minister.

Berat Albayrak had been viewed as Turkey’s second most powerful figure until his chaotic departure from the government at the start of the month.

Married to the Turkish leader’s elder daughter, the 42-year-old quit as finance minister in a cryptic November 8 message on Instagram that cited health reasons.

Advertisements

His resignation from the helm of the Turkish economy was ignored by state media for more than 24 hours, until it was formally accepted by Erdogan the next night.

Albayrak’s two-year tenure as economy chief saw the lira lose 40 percent of its value against the dollar and the central bank burn though most of its reserves in trying to defend the currency.

Berat Albayrak speaks during a presentation to announce his economic policy in Istanbul, Turkey August 10, 2018. REUTERS/MURAD SEZER/FILE PHOTO

His departure was linked to Erdogan’s appointment of a new market-friendly central banker whom Albayrak had strongly opposed.

Naci Agbal, the new central bank governor, sharply raised the main interest rate at his first policy meeting last week, helping the lira halt its slide.

Advertisements

Erdogan’s office said little about Albayrak’s departure, noting in a one-sentence statement that he “left the board of the sovereign wealth fund of Turkey after asking to take leave”.

He was appointed as its deputy head in 2018, the same year Erdogan became its official chief.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Just in: End provocation against Greece – Germany, U.S asks Turkey.

Advertisements

“Coercion, threats, intimidation and military activity will not resolve tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Turkey’s two key Western allies, the United States and Germany, on Tuesday urged it to pull back a ship it has returned to waters contested with Greece, with Washington denouncing the “calculated provocation.”

The Turkish navy said Sunday that the Oruc Reis exploration vessel was heading back to energy-rich eastern Mediterranean waters between the Greek island of Crete and Cyprus, weeks after it left amid an agreement for talks.

In a strongly-worded statement, the State Department said the US “deplores” the decision by Turkey and noted that Greece “asserts jurisdiction” over areas where the ship plans to operate through October 22.

“We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

“Turkey’s announcement unilaterally raises tensions in the region and deliberately complicates the resumption of crucial exploratory talks between our NATO allies Greece and Turkey,” she said.

Advertisements

Turkey last sent the ship into contested waters in August backed by warships, alarming both Greece and Cyprus, which is partially occupied by Ankara.

Greece responded by staging military exercises but tensions eased when both Ankara and Athens agreed to talk through the crisis.

Greece said Tuesday there could be no diplomatic solution until the ship is withdrawn.

Greece “will not sit at the table for exploratory talks while the Oruc Reis and escorting warships are out there,” Minister of State George Gerapetritis told Parapolitika radio.

Advertisements

He said Athens would “emphatically” raise the dispute at a European council meeting starting Thursday.

Germany steps up tone
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month said that the withdrawal of the ship was a chance to give diplomacy a chance.

But Turkish officials also insisted the ship was only undergoing planned maintenance and would return to the eastern Mediterranean to continue its work.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, speaking ahead of a trip to Cyprus and Greece, said that Turkey “must end the cycle of detente and provocation if the government is interested in talks.”

Advertisements

“If there should be renewed Turkish gas exploration in the more controversial sea areas in the eastern Mediterranean, this would be a serious setback for efforts to de-escalate,” Maas said.

While France has staunchly backed Greece throughout the standoff with Turkey, Germany had irked many Greeks in August with what they perceived as a low-key response by Europe’s largest economic power.

Erdogan has a cordial relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has worked with Turkey both on stemming the flow of Syrian and other refugees into Europe and over the crisis in Libya.

Erdogan has also cultivated close ties with US President Donald Trump, who said of the Turkish leader in an interview for investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s latest book: “The tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them.”

Advertisements

The US relationship has nonetheless been expanding quickly with Athens, in part over its growing embrace of US ally Israel.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month visited Greece in a show of support in which he voiced hope over then easing tensions with Turkey.

Under Erdogan, Turkey has been newly assertive on multiple fronts, not just against historic rival Greece.

Erdogan in recent weeks has encouraged Azerbaijan in its campaign to end “occupation” of the Nagorno-Karabakh area by Armenia as the neighbours engage in their most serious fighting since 1994.


#Newsworthy…

Armenia must return foreign mercenaries – Turkey Gov’t says.

Advertisements

Turkey said Armenia must stop its occupation of Azerbaijan’s lands and send back the “mercenaries and terrorists” it brought from abroad for stability in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, where Armenian and Azeri forces have clashed.

“Armenia must immediately halt its attacks, send back the mercenaries and terrorists it brought from abroad and withdraw from the Azerbaijan lands,” said Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, adding a ceasefire and peace are needed.


#Newsworthy…

Turkey: East Mediterranean gas exploration stressed.

Advertisements

Turkish navy’s advisory says the Oruc Reis will continue working until September 12, a move Greece calls ‘illegal’.


Turkey says its Oruc Reis exploration vessel will carry out seismic surveys in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until September 12, provoking an angry response from neighbouring Greece.

The two NATO allies vehemently disagree over claims to hydrocarbon resources in the area based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves in waters dotted with mostly Greek islands.

Both sides have held military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, highlighting the potential for the dispute to escalate.

The Turkish navy announced the extension of the Oruc Reis’s mission late on Monday – it was previously scheduled to end on September 1.

Advertisements

The advisory came after the European Union’s executive earlier on Monday called for dialogue with Turkey and demanded that Ankara refrain from unilateral steps that stoke tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

Greece’s foreign ministry called the advisory illegal and urged Turkey to ease tensions and work for stability in the region.

“Turkey continues to ignore calls for dialogue and to escalate its provocations,” the ministry said in a statement. “Greece won’t be blackmailed.”

Advertisements

Greece will keep seeking maritime deals with its neighbours in the region, based on international law and the law of the Sea, the ministry added.

Last week, Greece ratified an accord on maritime boundaries with Egypt, following a similar agreement signed between Turkey and Libya.

Turkey’s latest advisory referred to a specific exploration area. On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Oruc Reis would continue working for the next 90 days as it moved gradually closer to the Turkish province of Antalya.

Seismic surveys are part of preparatory work for potential hydrocarbon exploration.

Advertisements

Turkey has also been exploring for hydrocarbon resources in the Black Sea and discovered a 320-billion cubic metre (11.3 trillion cubic feet) gas field.

Separately, Turkey also said it will hold a military exercise off northwest Cyprus until September 11.

Turkey and Greece have held military exercises in the east Mediterranean, highlighting the potential for dispute over extent of their continental shelves to escalate [Greek Defence Ministry/AP]

Last week, the EU said it was preparing to impose sanctions on Turkey – including tough economic measures – unless progress is made in reducing soaring tensions with Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay slammed the EU threat as “hypocritical”.


#Newsworthy…

Turkey blasts European Union on warning over East Mediterranean.

Advertisements

Turkish VP refutes EU threat for sanctions as Turkish military gets ready to carry out military exercises off Cyprus.


Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has slammed a recent threat by the European Union to slap Ankara with sanctions as “hypocritical” as his country prepares to carry out a military drill off the coast of Cyprus amid tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

Oktay’s comments on Saturday came a day after Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said the bloc was preparing to impose sanctions on Turkey – including tough economic measures – unless progress is made in reducing soaring tensions with Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.

“It is hypocritical for the European Union to call for dialogue and, simultaneously, make other plans regarding Turkey’s activities within our continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Oktay said on Twitter.

“We are proficient in the language of peace and diplomacy, but do not hesitate to do the necessary thing when it comes to defending Turkey’s rights and interests. France and Greece know that better than anyone.”

Advertisements

The long-running dispute between Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, flared after both agreed to rival accords on their maritime boundaries with Libya and Egypt, and Turkey sent a survey vessel into contested waters this month.

The EU’s measures, meant to limit Turkey’s ability to explore for natural gas in contested waters, could include individuals, ships or the use of European ports, Borrell said.

“We can go to measures related to sectoral activities … where the Turkish economy is related to the European economy,” Borrell told a news conference, referring to possible sanctions.

The EU would focus on everything related to “activities we consider illegal”, he said.

Advertisements

Military exercise
On Friday, Turkey said it will hold military drills off northwest Cyprus in the next two weeks.

The Turkish military issued an advisory to mariners, known as a Navtex, saying it would be holding a “gunnery exercise” from Saturday until September 11.

Tensions escalated this month after Ankara dispatched the Oruc Reis seismic survey vessel in a disputed area following the pact between Athens and Cairo [Yoruk Isik/Reuters]

Greece and Turkey have both held military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, highlighting the potential for the dispute over the extent of their continental shelves to escalate into a confrontation.

Two weeks ago, Greek and Turkish frigates shadowing Turkey’s Oruc Reis oil and gas survey vessel collided, and Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense said Turkish F-16 jets on Thursday prevented six Greek F-16s from entering an area where Turkey was operating.

Advertisements

Greece and Turkey are at odds over the rights to potential hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, based on conflicting claims about the extent of their continental shelves.

Tensions escalated this month after Ankara dispatched the Oruc Reis seismic survey vessel in a disputed area following the pact between Athens and Cairo.

The agreement is seen as a response to a Turkish-Libyan accord signed in 2019 allowing Turkey access to areas in the region where large hydrocarbon deposits have been discovered.

Turkey is a formal candidate to join the EU, but its talks with the bloc have been in a deadlock for several years now.


#Newsworthy…