Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Turkey updates January 22 , 2014 -- Here Are 350 Billion Reasons Why Banks Want You To Ignore Turkey's Turbulence ..... Turkish Lira Crumbles To New Record Low As Erdogan Blames Fed Not Politics .... Political instability continues as corruption scandals percolate !

Turkey's building financial turbulence.....

Turkey to repay $168 billion in foreign debts in 2014

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Short-term foreign debt that the public and private sectors must repay by the end of the year has reached a total of $168 billion, including due payments from earlier long-term debts, central bank data have revealed.
Short-term foreign debt owed by state and foreign businesses rose from $29 billion at the end of 2012 to $129.4 billion last November, a record high figure. Turkey's short-term foreign debt was $38.9 billion in 2005.
Added to the amount due by the end of this year, the total short-term debt stock has hit $168 billion. The data serves as a wake-up call; the Turkish lira is losing value against the US dollar and the large amount of external debt in US dollars is a concern for Turkish businesses borrowing money in dollars while earning lira. The lira weakened to a record low on Monday at 2.25 against the US dollar, and stayed around 2.24 on Tuesday.
According to Taner Berksan, the head of the School of Economics at Okan University, public institutions will not have a serious problem in repaying debts this year; the biggest burden falls on private businesses. Berksan says an ongoing decline in the value of the lira against foreign currencies will result in an economic slowdown and unemployment. “Regardless, this should not trigger a large-scale economic crisis,” he says. Economist Uğur Gürses thinks that high interest rates on loans (around 7-8 percent) push Turkish private companies toward foreign lenders offering rates as low as 1 percent rather than the Turkish Central Bank.
Economist Güldem Atabay argues that the major problem arises when the private sector has to borrow money from foreign lenders. “If they fail to repay debts, businesses will start burning assets at home and eventually be pushed to dismiss employees. … The central bank and the government should look for ways to avoid this,” she says.

Here Are 350 Billion Reasons Why Banks Want You To Ignore Turkey's Turbulence

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Despite Erdogan's paranoia over "an interest rate" lobby or blaming the Lira's collapse on the Fed, as Gavekal's Nick Andrews notes, Turkey is showing no signs of stabilization. As the sell-side scrambles to explain how this is all priced in and "contained," it is very apparent from the following chart just how vulnerable to contagion the world is if Turkey defaults. The country's liabilities have multiplied dramatically in recent years with over $350 billion of foreign bank exposure to Turkey on an ultimate risk basis.

Fragile and Complacent... (and in denial)
Gavekal notes - Turkey is not, however, showing any signs of stabilization. The lira continues to fall, and policymakers are doing little to contain the situation.

With soaring inflation, a plunging currency and a run for the exits, one would think Turkey would do what other emerging markets did during last year’s taper tantrum, and hike rates.

Instead the new economy minister said recently that this is not necessary, since the country is in tip-top shape. “We couldn’t create an economic crisis in Turkey even if we wanted to, it’s that strong,” said the minister, whose predecessor was purged in the recent corruption scandal.
Turkey has some uniquely bad problems...
Not only is its current account deficit at nearly 8% of GDP - the highest in the MSCI’s emerging markets universe—but the country is also geographically closer and thus more dependent on the eurozone, whose economic recovery is painfully slow. Its political situation is also clearly very unstable.
Still, as the chart below shows, the country’s liabilities have multiplied in recent years - adding to global contagion pressures if Turkey defaults.
Indeed, already fragile Greece is particularly exposed to the Eurasian republic. Turkish credit as a proportion of total Greek bank assets stands at over 5%, compared to 0.7% for the next two largest (Dutch and UK banks).

As Gavekal notes though -Europe’s exposure would likely be mitigated by the European Central Bank with their now standard response of pumping excess liquidity into the euro system to ensure no bank runs out of cash. This might explain why the peripheral eurozone countries are not suffering more fallout from Greece’s exposure to Turkey.
However, with the new template in place , depositors in Europe's banks exposed to Turkey may well prefer to pull their cash than trust there will be no haircuts for ECB aid...

Turkish Lira Crumbles To New Record Low As Erdogan Blames Fed Not Politics

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"It is wrong to link [the Turkish Lira's] fall to the corruption probe," blasted Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan, explaining that the Lira's fall "is linked to the Federal Reserve's actions." Since the taper was announced the Lira has collapsed over 12%, trading at 2.269 to the USD, a record low for the troubled nation's currency. Of course, the timing is useful for the PM to explain his nation's demise (as it is also proving a good excuse for Thailand - with massive outflows amid its riots; and Ukraine) but it seems the problems on the streets of Turkey are anything but going away. Today's drop in the Lira (the 7th in a row) follows a somewhat surprising "disastrous for their credibility" decision by the Turkish Central Bank to leave rates unchanged (and still warn of inflation).

RBS on the Central bank's decision:
Today’s actions are reflective of a central bank that knows it has to tighten policy but has its hands tied behind its back by politicians

Decision is “disastrous for central bank credibility. Negative for TRY

Erdogan says an “interest rates lobby” is seeking to attack Turkey’s economy and undermine his govt by forcing Turkey to raise interest rates

Chart: Bloomberg

The corruption scandals boils away unabated.....

Hurriyet Daily News .....

MHP refuses to lend support to government-led judicial bill


Criticizing the government-led amendment aimed at restructuring the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader has implied that his party will not give its support to such an amendment. MHP head Devlet Bahçeli said the government should instead seek a constitutional amendment with only the support of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

“The prime minister should respect the Constitution that was agreed by the people in a ballot, and he should ask people about his planned amendment if he has courage and loyalty to the national will,” Bahçeli said on Jan. 21, addressing his party’s lawmakers at Parliament.

The government aims for an amendment which is unconstitutional and which seeks a design for the political ambitions of the government, he said, stressing that the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) ignored articles 138 and 159 of the Turkish Constitution and the independence of judges and prosecutors.

Recalling that the current HSYK legislation was adopted in a constitutional referendum in 2010, Bahçeli claimed that the government’s aim in the latest amendment came “under the fog of bribery and corruption and ignores the national will.”

Turkey's main opposition CHP exposes document of threat against prosecutor by undersecretary


The main opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu reads out a file showing that a Justice Ministry Undersecretary has threatened a chief prosecutor to halt an investigation into fraud claims in the İzmir Harbor that engulfed a relative of the ruling AKP’s İzmir mayoral candidate

The main opposition CHP leader reads a document reportedly revealing the government pressure on a graft probe prosecutor in İzmir. DHA photo
The main opposition CHP leader reads a document reportedly revealing the government pressure on a graft probe prosecutor in İzmir. DHA photo
Reading out minutes of a conversation between the recently appointed Justice Ministry Undersecretary and a chief prosecutor who has launched a probe into fraud claims in the İzmir Harbor that engulfed a relative of the ruling party’s İzmir mayoral candidate, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader stated on Jan. 21 the undersecretary threatened the prosecutor to halt the investigation.

The excerpt Kılıçdaroğlu recited was also kept on record by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), the composition and authorities of which are at the center of grave political turmoil, had the signature of İzmir Chief Prosecutor Hüseyin Baş.

After the related investigation was finalized and expertise reports were written, the authorized and commissioned courts made the decision to question and detain the suspects on Jan. 6, Baş explained.

“The decisions that were made by the courts were extended to after work hours; after the decisions were sent to the Police Department for execution, at 7:38 p.m. on Jan. 6, as I was at my house, the secretary at the Under secretariat Office called me from my [writes down a mobile phone number] told me Mr. Kenan İpek wanted to talk to me,” Kılıçdaroğlu quoted Baş as saying in the record.

The CHP leader read out the record kept by Baş as he was addressing hit party at a parliamentary group meeting.

Investigation to be stopped at once

Noting he informed İpek of the content of the investigation upon question, Baş explained, “Hereupon, he wanted this investigation to be stopped at once, wanted me to ask the law enforcement officers to return the court decisions. He said he waited at his office and asked to be notified of the result.”

Explaining how the undersecretary was persistent during the four-minute long conversation despite his clear briefing that there was nothing against the law in regards to the investigation, Baş said the second call from İpek came at 10:31 p.m.

“Go just at this hour, replace the prosecutor, abolish all decisions, and halt this investigation. If you do not this, you will face the results,” Baş quoted İpek as telling him during the telephone call.


Today's Zaman.....

96 judges, prosecutors assigned to new posts

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In the largest overhaul of the judiciary seen in Turkey’s republican history, 96 judges and prosecutors, including senior names who led the historic Balyoz and Ergenekon trials in which hundreds of generals were convicted of plotting against the government, have been reassigned to new posts across the country.
The 1st Chamber of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), whose membership structure changed in favor of the government after an intervention in the legal body by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), carried out another major reshuffle that has shaken the judicial world.
The move came as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan scrambled to defend a recent controversial bill seeking to restructure the HSYK, a move deemed a clear setback by opponents and legal experts.
Erdoğan is currently in Brussels to speak with EU officials, who have voiced concern over the new legal change, which they say would deal a blow to the rule of law and judicial independence.

Gülen underlines values, rejects alliance with political party or leader

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Esteemed Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen (Photo: Today's Zaman)
Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday that the Hizmet movement does not form alliances with any political party or candidate, as he emphasized the importance of democratic values and universal human rights and freedoms when supporting a political movement.
In response to a question on whether “the alliance” between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Hizmet movement had ended, Gülen said, “If we can talk about an alliance, it was around [the] shared values of democracy, universal human rights and freedoms -- never for political parties or candidates.” Referring to the constitutional reforms of 2010, which the Hizmet movement supported, Gülen said, “If these democratic reforms, which are in line with [the] European Union's requirements for membership, were done by [the Republican People's Party] CHP before, I would have supported them.”
However, he ruled out any alliance with the CHP or any other political party in the upcoming elections, as he reiterated that their support or criticism has always been around values. “We will continue to advocate for democracy,” Gülen insisted, continuing, “Whether the stance or actions of the political actors are consistent with their earlier record should be decided by the Turkish people and unbiased observers.”
Responding to a question on his disappointment with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's leadership, Gülen said that throughout the AK Party period, they have supported democratization reforms and criticized and opposed anti-democratic actions. However, he noted, “For instance, in 2005 we criticized the draft anti-terror law that defined terror crimes too broadly and risked harming freedoms.”
According to Gülen, the Erdoğan government has failed to draft a new, civilian and democratic constitution that could “consolidate the democratic gains and would anchor Turkey at [the] democratic values of [the] EU.” He pointed out that the government had promised to make democratic reforms after receiving the public support of 58 percent in the referendum on reform in 2010, which Gülen himself also strongly supported.

Officers should be subjected to investigation if they breach laws

In response to a question on the extensive purges in the police force, Gülen's response is clear. “If the members of the police force or any other government agency have breached the laws of the country or the rules of their institutions, nobody can defend such actions and they should be subjected to legal or institutional investigation,” he said.
However, Gülen says that it is a violation of human rights and the rule of law if people are “profiled based on their worldviews or affinities, and subjected to discriminatory treatment” without having committed any crime.
According to Gülen, reshuffles and purges based on ideology, sympathies or worldview were a practice of the past. He also noted that the same members of the police force and the judiciary were praised a few months ago by the government.
On whether the Hizmet movement encourages students to choose a career path in the police or the judiciary, Gülen notes that because his first and foremost advocacy is for education, many people who agree with his ideas have established various types of educational institutions, from dormitories and exam preparation centers to private schools and free tuition centers.
“I have encouraged Turkish people to be represented in all facets of the Turkish society and in every institution of their country, because it is important that these institutions reflect the society's diversity,” Gülen went on to say, before adding that historically, graduating from a Hizmet school has been a potential source of discrimination within the police and judiciary.

Protective law for MİT staff could have been applied to military

As far as the review of the judgments against military officers accused of plotting coups is concerned, Gülen says, “If new evidence has emerged, or it is determined that the legal procedure was flawed, then retrial becomes a legal right.”
However, according to him, if the intention is to completely abolish the verdicts of thousands of trials, “then such a move would both undermine the credibility of the justice system and reverse the democratic gains of the past decade.”
Directing attention to the government's controversial attitude on this issue, Gülen also said that “the leaders of the present government for years championed these trials as a triumph of democracy and applauded the brave prosecutors and judges, in their language, who took part in them.”
Making a comparison with the case in which the director of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) was contacted by a prosecutor to question him about the alleged participation of intelligence officers in the terrorist acts of Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) units, Gülen said that although the government immediately passed a law requiring the prime minister's approval to investigate the intelligence director, it has not offered similar protection to the accused chief of General Staff or army commanders.
Regarding the threats made against businesses owned by Hizmet followers, Gülen said that they are no longer threats but a reality, saying, “The Koza group, İstikbal group and Bank Asya were targeted with various forms of extraordinary inspections, fines, permit cancellations, and massive unscheduled fund withdrawals, which followed [a] negative campaign against the bank in certain news outlets known to be close to the ruling party.”
In response to a question on the difference between President Abdullah Gül and Erdoğan, Gülen said the Hizmet movement has never advocated “supporting a party or candidate” before pointing out that “individual Hizmet participants have found certain parties and candidates closer to their beliefs and values [and] supported them out of their [own] free will.”

EU calls on Turkey to respect rule of law, separation of powers

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Turkish PM Erdoğan talks with European Parliament President Schulz after a family photo with European Union Council President Van Rompuy and European Commission President Barroso ahead of an EU-Turkey summit at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday. (Photo: REUTERS, Yves Herman)
21 January 2014 /ANKARA, TODAY'S ZAMAN
The proposal, according to its critics, seeks to subordinate the HSYK to the government by increasing the justice minister’s power over the HSYK and thus curbing the authority of the board. The bill will give the government a tighter grip on the judiciary, according to critics.
“In our talks we addressed the current developments in Turkey since Dec. 17. I stressed that Turkey as a candidate country is committed to respect the political criteria of accession, including the application of the rule of law and separation of powers,” said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in his opening statement at the press conference.
“It is important not to backtrack on achievements and to assure that the judiciary is able to function without discrimination or preference in a transparent and impartial manner, and I welcome further dialogue on this between Turkey and the EU,” he added.
“We have followed the events closely and I have today relayed the European concerns to Prime Minister Erdoğan -- as an honest friend and partner. I made the point about what exactly is happening today in Turkey,” said Barroso.
“I was quite happy during the discussion because the Prime Minister Erdoğan, in a very frank and open manner, addressed all the issues and gave us reassurances of his intention to fully respect the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and, generally speaking, the separation of powers. I think these are fundamental principles of democracy and they are, in the first place, in Turkey’s very own national political and economic interest. But also they are a central and vital element of the Copenhagen criteria for the EU accession negotiations,” he added.
“I am therefore confident that the Turkish government will swiftly address the issues we have raised, and I believe that structural reforms are a challenging process, which is not straightforward. We know how challenging some of the issues that Turkey is now confronting are, but I want to state very clearly that Turkey is not alone in this, and we stand ready to support you, prime minister, with our experience on these matters,” Barroso said.
Answering a question, Van Rompuy said there is close contact and dialogue between the EU and Turkey regarding the draft bill to restructure judiciary. He stressed that the public statements at the press conference reflect what was said in private meetings with Erdoğan. Erdoğan, Van Rompuy continued, provided his view on developments in Turkey, and the EU officials took note. Van Rompuy added that it is the EU’s place to share its concerns because the EU has a role in monitoring and reporting violations during Turkey’s accession process.
“That is for Turkey to make its analysis,” Van Rompuy said.
In a press conference along with the Turkish prime minister, Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, emphasized that the rule of law is a very critical issue for the EU as he underlined their concerns over the HSYK bill.
"We made it clear that the government must protect [the] rule of law and respect [the] separation of powers," said Schulz, who stressed the importance of judicial independence at the press conference.
Erdoğan said his government will take the EU's concerns into account during negotiations over the HSKY bill in Parliament, but fell short of mentioning withdrawal of the bill.
Erdoğan said the EU membership talks were on the right track for now, though he repeated a threat he has made before that Turkey might "end up turning in other directions" if the negotiations do not achieve results. He did not elaborate.
In response to a question by a journalist on why the government had changed the rules in the middle of the game, in an implicit reference to a government attempt to change the law governing the HSYK after a sweeping corruption probe that implicated close associates of Erdoğan, the Turkish prime minister said democracy improves through updates and changes.
European Union Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle tweeted, “Good exchanges today with PM @RT_Erdogan during his visit to Brussels on our relations including importance of the rule of law.”

German FM warns Turkey putting accession talks at risk

German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, speaking shortly before Erdoğan’s arrival in Brussels on Monday, warned that Turkey’s crackdown on the police and the judiciary is putting EU accession talks at risk.
Steinmeier said that he discussed the situation with his EU peers at a meeting in Brussels on Monday, reported the EU Observer online newspaper.
“There are numerous questions to which the Europeans have not received any replies,” he said.
“Demanding that Turkey returns to the rule of law is not just something that can be done, but it’s something that has to be done,” he noted.
“Today nobody said that the perspective of opening new chapters should be taken back, but such a debate will not be avoided if there are no satisfying answers,” he added.
At the press conference Erdoğan said that communication problems are the source of disinformation, with regard to the EU’s criticism on judiciary restructuring. He said that in democratic parliamentary systems, the separation of powers is a must, but if the powers interfere in each other’s business it is not democracy, stressing the dangers of an autonomous judiciary. Erdoğan also said that the judiciary cannot have control over the executive branch. “All other information is just disinformation and sedition,” he said.
The prime minister also called on the EU to open the 23rd and 24th EU accession chapters. Calling his meetings “very productive,” Erdoğan said that Turkey and the EU have reconfirmed their commitment to keep up the recent positive momentum in Turkey-EU relations.
Van Rompuy also said that in his bilateral meeting with Erdoğan they discussed the political and economic situation in the European Union and in Turkey, the accession process, the Cyprus issue and their cooperation in international affairs and in their common neighborhood.