by instituDE, published on 19 June 2023


"Saudi Arabia's Nuclear Energy Program" by Mustafa Enes Esen, Institute for Diplomacy and Economy

Saudi Arabia, experiencing a rapid increase in annual electricity consumption, intends to construct 16 nuclear power plants with a total cost of $80 billion over the next 20-25 years to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. However, the possibility that Saudi Arabia may be aiming to develop nuclear weapons along with these projects is a worrying situation.

In a 2018 interview with CBS, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated that his country had no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons. But, the Crown Prince emphasized that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, his country would immediately seek to acquire them. The emergence of a nuclear-armed rival is expected to spur other countries, including Egypt and Turkey, to follow the same path. 

The Biden administration, wary of further nuclear proliferation in the region, remains hesitant about Saudi Arabia's request to enrich uranium on its soil. Should the United States fail to meet Saudi Arabia's expectations, the Kingdom may start negotiations with China and even Russia on uranium enrichment. These nuclear programmes should be carefully monitored in the Middle East, one of the world's largest arms-importing regions, as they could trigger a new nuclear arms race.

"Turkey needs more than economic U-turn for lasting investments" by Birsen Altayli and Burcu Karakas, Reuters

Turkey's expected return to orthodox economic policies may not be enough to secure longer-lasting international investments, with a restoration of predictability and the rule of law still needed to build trust, analysts say.

While higher interest rates should draw some foreign investors back to Turkish assets, analysts say only fundamental changes in legal compliance will bring the stability, accountability and transparency needed to reassure investors.

Two senior ruling AK Party (AKP) officials said that, partly to reassure foreign investors, pushing through judicial reforms is critical and the new cabinet will announce steps soon to repair "perceived damage" to the judicial system. "It is clear that to ensure economic confidence, legal consistency is a must," one of the senior officials said.

Yet in the longer term, analysts say Erdogan's influence over ostensibly autonomous entities like the central bank will keep foreign direct investment (FDI) at bay.

"Did Kurdish PKK call off truce with Turkey to make peace or war?" by Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party announced late Tuesday that it had ended its unilateral ceasefire declared in the wake of twin earthquakes in February. The move signals a hardening of the militants' stand, with potential repercussions for the Kurdish political movement inside Turkey and the presence of US troops in Syria. 

The group, better known by its initials PKK, cited Turkey's escalating attacks against its militants in Syria and in Iraq and the continued isolation of its imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, as the main reasons for scotching the truce.

The most immediate question is what practical effect the end of the latest truce will have. The commonly held view is that, in military terms, not much. Ilhami Isik, a Kurdish commentator who advised the government on the peace talks, said, "The PKK has largely lost its offensive capacity, particularly inside Turkey." But the militants could conceivably resort to urban terror, targeting Turkey's multi-billion-dollar tourism industry, he added.

Charles Lister, the director of the Middle East Institute's Syria program, says "Turkey has established a vast military advantage against the PKK, and the PKK has little means with which to reply now, apart from urban terrorism — not that that would do anything but fuel Turkey's military actions."

The end of the ceasefire comes as the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) reassesses its strategy. Isik believes that the HDP will likely veer towards a more radical path. "Their rhetoric will grow harsher, the focus more Kurdish," Isik predicted.

Arzu Yilmaz, an Erbil-based academic specializing in Kurdish affairs, says the PKK's decision to call off its ceasefire may be calculated to get Ocalan back into play. If Ocalan could deliver a new ceasefire, it could set the stage for new talks with the government ahead of municipal polls that are to be held in March.


Imamoglu urges Kilicdaroglu to renounce running for CHP leadership 

According to professional writer Ismail Saymaz, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu asked CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu to publicly declare that he would not run for re-election as the party's leader. 

Imamoglu drew attention to the need for complete and thorough change and suggested working together to bring about the necessary good changes. He warned that without major changes, the CHP could face losses in future local elections, including the risk of losing Istanbul. Imamoglu reportedly requested Kilicdaroglu to make a statement at the next group meeting, declaring that he would not seek re-election for the CHP leadership.

Erdogan criticizes Kilicdaroglu for not resigning, calling him a "dictator"

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu as a "dictator" on June 17 for refusing to step down from the party leadership following the election defeat.

During his speech at the 30th General Assembly of the Turkish Exporters Assembly and Champions of Export Award Ceremony in Istanbul, Erdogan said, "It became evident how those who pledged democracy to the nation transformed into dictators overnight when it came to resigning from the party leadership," without directly mentioning Kilicdaroglu's name.

Erdogan also addressed the dispute between CHP Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The 69-year-old leader stated, "Regardless of internal party conflicts and power struggles between father and son, Turkey requires a new understanding of the opposition."


Pre-election period witnesses $52 billion drop in reserves

During the two months leading up to the election, the country's reserves experienced a significant drop of $52 billion, as Bloomberg economist Selva Baziki reported. The Central Bank's intervention in the exchange rate markets amounted to a staggering $199 billion between December 2021 and June 2023, averaging approximately $12 billion per month, Baziki claimed.

Central bank reserves rise after loosening control over foreign exchange 

The net foreign exchange reserves of the Turkish central bank have increased by $2.5 billion, reaching a value of -$3.17 billion as of June 9. This rise comes after Ankara decided to loosen its control over the foreign exchange market, which led to a significant depreciation of the Turkish lira last week.

The central bank's net reserves reached their lowest point since the data started being published in 2002, -$5.7 billion for the week ending June 2. Over the years, the central bank's foreign exchange reserves have significantly fallen due to interventions in the market to control demand for foreign currency.

Reuters poll predicts Turkey's central bank to increase policy rate to 20% 

According to a recent Reuters poll, Turkey's central bank is anticipated to implement a substantial 1,150 basis point hike in its policy rate next week, raising the rate from 8.5% to 20% and marking a significant policy reversal following previous rate cuts under President Erdogan, which contributed to a cost-of-living crisis.

The poll involving 15 economists revealed that the median forecast for the one-week repo rate at the upcoming Monetary Policy Committee meeting is 20%. If realized, this would represent the highest rate since mid-2019 and the first increase since March 2021.

Moreover, the poll indicated that, apart from one economist, all 12 participants projected further rate hikes by the end of the year. The median forecast for the year-end policy rate stood at 30%, with projections ranging from 18% to 35%.

Finance minister meets with bank executives for new economic program

On June 16, Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek met with bank executives from the Banks Association of Turkey (TBB). 

After the meeting, which lasted for three hours, Simsek said that the focus of the discussions was the Turkish economy and the financial sector. He emphasized that they plan to engage with various groups in society, including businesses, financial institutions, unions, and others, as part of their new program. The ultimate aim is to improve society's well-being and strengthen the country's investments, exports, production, and employment. However, Simsek did not provide any specific details discussed during the meeting.

Top foreign buyers of Turkey's real estate market: Russians, Iranians, Ukrainians

According to recent official data, the real estate market in Turkey has seen an increase in the number of buyers from Russia, Iran, and Ukraine. The May statistics point to a 23% growth compared to the previous month. 

Among foreign homebuyers, people from these three countries have remained Turkey's top three purchasers of real estate. Specifically, Russians, Iranians, and Ukrainians bought 991, 503, and 175 houses in May. Antalya has been the preferred location for foreign homebuyers in May, leaving Istanbul behind.

The number of individuals purchasing homes in Turkey from abroad has seen a consistent and remarkable rise since the government implemented its citizenship-for-property initiative in 2018. In response to the substantial devaluation of the Turkish lira against major foreign currencies, the threshold for obtaining citizenship through property investment increased from $250,000 to $400,000 last year.

Before the Ukraine conflict, Iraqis and Iranians, alongside Russians, were top purchasers of residential properties in Turkey.


Turkish journalist attacked by Mayor's guards for investigating corruption

Journalist Sinan Aygul shared on June 17 that he was attacked by the bodyguards of Tatvan Mayor Mehmet Emin Geylani in Bitlis province due to his investigations into corruption within the municipality.

Sharing the unfortunate incident on Twitter, Aygul wrote, "The armed guards of Tatvan Mayor Mehmet Emin Geylani attacked me. They hit me on the head unexpectedly and threatened me with death if I dared to continue writing about the Mayor. I'm being taken to Tatvan State Hospital to receive medical attention."

Top business group head calls for parliament to return to Istanbul Convention

Orhan Turan, the president of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), expressed on June 16 that they expect the parliament to re-enforce the Istanbul Convention, an agreement aimed at preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

During the TUSIAD High Advisory Council Meeting, Turan emphasized that the ongoing violence against women and discrimination they face in business and social realms "do not align with Turkey's second-century vision."


Head of EU Delegation: Erasmus students are seeking asylum

In a recent interview, the Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer Landru, expressed his views regarding the visa crisis and highlighted important points. 

Ambassador Meyer Landru disclosed that Turkey had the highest number of visa applications to Europe in 2022, surpassing 778,000. 

An alarming trend noted by the ambassador was the increasing number of Erasmus students applying for asylum upon the expiration of their visas. 

Regarding visa liberalization, Ambassador Meyer Landru stated the responsibility lies with the Turkish authorities. "A roadmap for visa liberalization was established, outlining 72 criteria, with a requirement to fulfil at least 4-5 of them. However, Turkey has yet to take concrete actions to meet these criteria, raising concerns about the progress in this area," he said.

Among the key obstacles identified by the ambassador are data protection and the need for a clear and precise definition of terrorism. He highlighted that the current broad definition of terrorism in Turkey does not meet the desired standards and has created a situation where individuals facing pressure may feel compelled to seek refuge elsewhere.

Turkish artillery attack in northern Syria results in casualties, including Russian soldier

According to reports from Syrian Kurdish media and an opposition war monitor, a Turkish artillery attack in northern Syria on May 12 resulted in a Russian soldier's death and several others' injuries. The incident occurred when Turkish troops shelled a road that connects the villages of Herbel and Um Hawsh in Aleppo province.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that one Russian soldier lost his life, while four others sustained injuries during the shelling. Additionally, Hawar News confirmed that a Russian vehicle was targeted, leading to casualties without providing specific details.

NATO Chief says some progress made for Sweden's NATO bid 

As the highly anticipated NATO Leaders Summit in Lithuania approaches, discussions between Turkey, Sweden, and NATO officials in Ankara have yielded positive outcomes, though no breakthroughs were achieved. With less than a month remaining, Turkey maintains its stance on Sweden's membership bid, but both countries have agreed to continue the dialogue following a nearly three-hour meeting in Ankara on June 14 between officials of Turkey, Sweden and NATO. 

Following the meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed a relatively optimistic view, emphasizing that "some progress" had been made. He reassured that the effort to welcome Sweden as a full member would continue and suggested that Sweden could join the alliance before the upcoming Vilnius summit scheduled for July 11-12.

Before the meeting on June 13, Turkish President Erdogan expressed his view that Sweden should not expect a positive response to its NATO membership bid at the upcoming NATO summit unless steps are taken to prevent anti-Turkey protests in Stockholm. During a flight back from Azerbaijan, Erdogan told reporters that Turkey would not have a favourable approach towards Sweden's NATO aspirations while protests involving individuals he referred to as "terrorists" are taking place in the Swedish capital.

In a press conference held at NATO headquarters on June 16 during a recent NATO defence ministers' gathering in Brussels, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he had a chance to meet with Turkey's new Minister of Defense, Yasar Guler. Austin told reporters that he took the opportunity to congratulate Guler on his appointment and also emphasized the importance of approving Sweden's accession during their introductory meeting.

Turkey summons Swiss ambassador following protest against Erdogan

Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador to Ankara due to a demonstration that took place in Zurich on June 15 against President Erdogan. The demonstration involved burning an effigy and displaying banners. 

Deputy Foreign Minister Mehmet Kemal Bozbay conveyed to Ambassador Jean-Daniel Ruch that such actions were unacceptable. Additionally, Bozbay requested an investigation to identify those responsible for the protest.

Turkish and Iraqi officials are set to meet in Baghdad on June 19 for oil resumption

Turkish and Iraqi officials will hold discussions in Baghdad on June 19 to talk about restarting Iraq's northern oil exports. Basim Mohammed, the Iraqi Deputy Oil Minister for upstream affairs, announced on June 15 that they have agreed on the importance of resuming oil exports as soon as possible. 

Iraq is prepared to pump 500,000 barrels per day once the flow of oil restarts. Turkey temporarily halted the exports on March 25 following an arbitration ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Next Turkey-Syria meeting in Astana on June 21

On June 21, Deputy Foreign Ministers from Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran will meet in Astana, Kazakhstan's capital. 

This meeting follows a previous session of the four countries' foreign ministers in Moscow on May 10. All countries agreed to develop a roadmap to improve Syria-Turkey relations during that meeting.

Putin expected to visit Turkey soon

Upon the invitation by Turkish President Erdogan, Russian President Putin and Erdogan have reached an agreement, as reported by Interfax, that Putin will soon visit Turkey. Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov said specific dates for the visit have not yet been discussed.

This visit would mark Putin's first visit to a NATO country since he ordered a significant deployment of troops into Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Putin has rarely visited other countries.