25 Ağustos 2011 Perşembe

Financial crisis looming

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fenerbahçe will be struck hard in terms of financial losses after being barred from the lucrative Champions League group stages, a writer on football economy says. If found guilty of match fixing, Fener’s financial woes will get deeper
Fenerbahçe fans are devastated by the Turkish Football Federation decision to leave their team out of the Champions League, but bigger crisis is round the corner, as the side stares at severe economic problems. Hürriyet photo

Fenerbahçe fans are devastated by the Turkish Football Federation decision to leave their team out of the Champions League, but bigger crisis is round the corner, as the side stares at severe economic problems. Hürriyet photo
Fenerbahçe football club will lose approximately 25 million euros in revenue after it was banned from this season’s Champions League due to rigging allegations, but the team could be facing an even worse financial disaster, according to an expert.

“It seems that financially devastating days are ahead of Fenerbahçe,” Tuğrul Akşar, the author of “The Political Economy of Football,” told the Hürriyet Daily News in a Thursday interview.
Club revenues will tumble if the club is excluded from the Spor Toto Super League in addition to its European ban for its alleged role in a wide-ranging match-fixing scandal last season, Akşar said, adding that the team, which has a budget of roughly 105 million euros, could face losses of 100 million euros this year.

Fenerbahçe received a number of perks thanks to its 2010-11 championship, including 18 million liras in performance awards, 21 million liras in league solidarity funds and 25 million liras from broadcasting rights.
The club will be required to pay back a total of 64 million liras to the Turkish Football Federation, or TFF, in the event that it is banned from Super League competition, Akşar said.

The club’s operational cost will be nearly 65 million euros this year, he said, adding that there could also be a decline in sales of the club’s licensed products. “Considering everything, the total amount that the club will be required to pay could reach over 100 million euros,” he said.

“Sponsors might cancel their agreements with Fenerbahçe,” said Akşar. The first parting of ways, however, came the other way around: After the TFF’s decision, Fenerbahçe’s women’s volleyball team cancelled its sponsorship agreement with Acıbadem Hospitals, whose board includes TFF Chairman Mehmet Ali Aydınlar.
Turkey’s four big football clubs’ debt also reached 1 billion liras in June this year, said Akşar, noting that the total income of the Super League was nearly 1.3 billion liras. “This means that debts of the four big clubs are higher than the total income of all the [other] clubs in the league,” Akşar said.

Fenerbahçe slumps, Trabzonspor jumps

Trabzonspor will take Fenerbahçe’s place in the Champions League, European football’s governing body, UEFA, said Wednesday. Following the decision, Fenerbahçe’s shares tumbled by over 9 percent shortly after trading was opened Thursday on the Turkish stock market and were trading at 43.7 Turkish Liras as of 11 a.m. local time. Meanwhile, Trabzonspor’s shares on the ISE opened 10.53 percent higher at 14.7 Turkish Liras during the bourse’s first trading session.

Trabzonspor received around 20 million euros from the TFF’s income pool this year league, said Akşar, adding that the team would now receive approximately 20 million euros in additional revenue by replacing Fenerbahçe in the Champions League.

“The team will boost its financial position by being able to make better transfers and increase its performances,” Akşar said.

As a result of the match-fixing allegations, more than 30 players and club officials have been jailed pending trial, including Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, Beşiktaş coach Tayfur Havutçu and Beşiktaş Deputy Chairman Serdar Adalı, in connection with the alleged manipulation of 19 matches last season.

Diageo targets local growth despite new legal difficulties

The Turkish alcoholic drink rakı is more than a successful brand, it is an important part of Turkish cultural heritage, Morgan says.

Gökhan Kurtaran
The new owner of Turkey’s biggest rakı brand says the market is shrinking in the country. The taxes on alcoholic drinks are also skyrocketing, says the company

Diageo, the global alcohol drink maker with a wide range of brands across spirits, wine and beer, expects growth in Turkey despite recent contraction in the market due to new government regulations, according to the top executive of its European business.

“Turkey has always been a dynamic market with a robust growth rate,” said Andrew Morgan, speaking during a press conference in Istanbul on Wednesday to mark the conclusion of the company’s acquisition of Mey İçki for 3.3 billion Turkish Liras ($2.1 billion).

Commenting on several reports questioning the brand’s into Turkey during a period of major regulation changes and tax hikes, Morgan said the company had already undertook extremely detailed analyses of the local environment.

‘I’m convinced’

Morgan said he personally met with Turkish ministers and officials and has confidence in the current Turkish administration, adding that he hopes the market will become more balanced.

 “Some members of the government choose not to consume alcohol, but they are still committed to Turkey’s open society that allows its people to make their own choices,” he said.

Diageo does not expect extreme treatment of alcohol drinks by the government in the long run, he said regarding the government’s recently implemented tax increases and strict regulations. “There is no example that the high taxes reduce abuse of alcohol in society,” he said.

Sales of alcohol have fallen since the Turkish government increased taxes on alcohol to meet budget targets and launched series of restrictions this year, according to Galip Yorgancıoğlu, chief executive officer of Mey İçki, speaking at the conference.

Mey is Turkey’s largest maker of rakı, the traditional Turkish alcoholic beverage.
Addressing journalists, Morgan said the company was currently planning to bring more international brands into the Turkish market. Still, “we are aware of the attractiveness and the importance of rakı in Turkish culture,” he said.

Noting that the fame of Yeni Rakı, the flag carrier rakı brand of the company, goes beyond a successful brand to an important part of Turkish cultural heritage, Morgan said Turkish rakı is considered “a national drink.”
Yeni Rakı continues to hold “very important potential outside of Turkey,” particularly in Germany and Middle Eastern countries and “even in the Chinese market,” the executive told the Hürriyet Daily News on the sidelines of the meeting.

Yorgancıoğlu said he expects the local rakı market to shrink 6 percent this year. He also said Diageo would sell Hare Liquor and Maestro gin this year to secure Turkish regulatory approval of the purchase.

24 Ağustos 2011 Çarşamba

Turkish firms look for a quick return in Libya

Smoke billows from a neighbourhood in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Monday. Turkish companies will race with French competitors in rebuilding the country, a professional says.

23 Ağustos 2011 Salı

'Flying chefs' of Turkey's national carrier tired of long hours

Monday, August 22, 2011

After a long flight to China or Japan, the company allows less than 12 hours for its employees to rest and sleep.

After a long flight to China or Japan, the company allows less than 12 hours for its employees to rest and sleep.
The “flying chefs,” the cooks on Turkish Airlines planes, have accused Turkish DO&CO, their contractor employer, of preventing them from unionizing with a threat of layoffs, chefs speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News said.
“The way the company threatens us is unfair,” said a flying chef recently, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Also, the company does not provide enough weekly off days.”

 After a long flight to China or Japan, the company allows less than 12 hours for its employees to rest and sleep, whereas Turkish Airlines allocates nearly 48 hours for its cabin crew to overcome symptoms of jetlag, the chef said.
Turkish Airlines on its official website says the flying chefs “work closely with the cabin crew” to serve the dishes to First and Business Class passengers in the professional way preparation. “This means luxury restaurant style in the sky.”
“But nowadays the chefs are way too tired to fly,” according to the food staff speaking to the Daily News.
“We are considered as a part of the cabin crew working onboard side by side with Turkish Airlines’ crew but treated differently,” said the chef.

The cabin crew is normally allowed to fly onboard at most 110 hours per month according to regulations established by the Turkish Ministry of Transport. “But we are obliged to fly and cook for nearly 130 hours,” another chef told the Daily News.

“We do not have such concept of rest, weekly or monthly off days,” an unnamed chef said in an e-mail sent to Airkule.com, a Turkish aviation news portal. “We work on board around 120 to 130 hours with not much time to sleep and rest.”

“We are not working according to the laws,” said the chef, claiming that the company has threatened the chefs with pink slips if any of them decide to a Turkish labor union. “Since we are too many doing this profession and too scared to lose our jobs, we still remain silent, but a solution is urgently needed,” the chef added.
Turkish Airlines senior vice president of media relations, Dr. Ali Genç, denied the chefs’ claims in a phone interview with the Daily News on Monday. “They fly seven days on board, work at DO&CO restaurant based in Istanbul for eight days and have nearly 15 days to rest per month.” Genç also said the approximate hours that the chefs fly per month is 82 hours. “Comparing chefs with the cabin crew is also not right as the crew has more responsibilities such as onboard security,” Genç said.

Genç also said the chefs could not be members in the Turkish civil aviation union, or Hava-İş, because it was formed by the members of Turkish Airlines and the chefs are not a part of the original airlines cabin crew but working for DO&CO directly. Genç denied the claims that the chefs would be fired if they joined a union, saying that the chefs receive “attractive benefits while traveling around the world.”

Representing British Airways, Air France, Asiana Airlines and Emirates in its wide range of customer portfolio, 28.9 percent of DO&CO shares trade on the Istanbul Stock Exchange, or ISE, and 18.15 percent on the Vienna Exchange.

22 Ağustos 2011 Pazartesi

Weddings a venue for new trade ties

Glorious wedding ceremonies of Indian businessmen in Istanbul have paved the way for excessive business deals between Turkey and India, an official says
Istanbul and Antalya have recently hosted two major Indian weddings, which cost a total of 5 million euros, Gupta says. HÜRRİYET photo

Matrimonial ceremonies worth millions of dollars that are arranged for Indian tycoons in Turkey host much more than colorful dresses and luxurious tastes: They pave the way for extensive business deals in international trade.

Turkey’s trade with India has jumped 88 percent in the first half of this year, Subhash Gupta, the Indian Consul for Economic & Trade Affairs in Istanbul, told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on Thursday. The bilateral trade volume rose to $3.44 billion in the first half of this year, compared to $1.83 billion in the same period last year.

According to the official, Indian weddings in Istanbul played a significant role in the increase of trade volumes.
For Indian businessmen and their families visiting Istanbul, weddings not only mean fun, but also networking, Gupta said. “Recently, Indian weddings taking place in Turkey are paving the way to more deals and more trade and investment between the two countries.”

Istanbul and the southern province of Antalya recently hosted two major Indian weddings, which cost nearly 5 million euros in total. Vartika Mittal, the nephew of the Indian steel magnate and owner of Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steelmaking company, married Utsav Goenka in Istanbul. Some 500 guests attended the three-day ceremony, which cost 3 million euros.

Last month, the Indian families of Bansal and Kanodia also spent 2 million euros on their children’s wedding at the Mardan Palace Hotel in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya. For 450 guests, they reserved 250 rooms in the hotel.

The major items of India’s exports to Turkey include cotton yarn, synthetic yarn, organic dyes, organic chemicals, denim, steel bars and rods, granite, antibiotics, carpets, unwrought zinc, clothing and apparel. Turkish exports to India include poppy seeds, auto components, marble, textile machinery, handlooms, denim, carpets, cumin seeds, minerals and steel products.

Indian investment in Turkey has also accelerated in recent months. Indian Ruia Group acquired Turkish automotive sealing manufacturing firm Standart Profil at an undisclosed price in May. The group also plans to enter the Turkish mining, energy and metals sectors through acquisitions. Vandanaa, an Indian energy group, also recently acquired Ser Mining, a Turkish mining firm. India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp., or ONGC, is considering investing in oil exploration in Turkey.

Negotiations between India and Turkey to establish a free trade agreement are ongoing, said Gupta, adding that significant steps have been taken toward an agreement. “It will be the benefit of both sides,” he said.

19 Ağustos 2011 Cuma

Funds eye local partners to go into mall business

A number of foreign funds are looking for local companies to jointly invest in the country’s growing shopping mall business, according to Hakan Kodal, a top professional. His company is preparing to introduce retail parks to the country
‘I still strongly advise foreign  investors to invest in Turkey in the midst of the economic crisis in  Europe and political turmoil in the Middle East,’ Hakan Kodal says.

‘I still strongly advise foreign investors to invest in Turkey in the midst of the economic crisis in Europe and political turmoil in the Middle East,’ Hakan Kodal says.
Foreign funds are eyeing investment opportunities through local partners despite unpredictability in the global markets, the head of a Turkish property development group said on Thursday, adding that investors from abroad are especially interested in acquiring shopping malls.

The Bosporus Real Estate Fund, or BREF, jointly established with the leadership of the Krea Group and Merilll Lynch, is preparing to invest in two major retail parks in Istanbul and in the northwestern province of Adapazarý, said Hakan Kodal, chief executive of Krea Group and the Council of Shopping Centers in Turkey, or AYD, speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News in Istanbul.

“We can well say the retail park concept will be a first in Turkey,” said Kodal, noting that each retail park will be built on 150,000 square meters. The major investment will contain large retail companies as well as small shops within a street-like ambiance that enables visitors to stroll through the park. BREF will invest approximately $250 million in the first retail parks in the country as it has already invested approximately $500 million in Turkish market.

Pradera, which is managing the Cevahir shopping mall in Istanbul owned by the Kuwait Investment Authority, or KIA, is also preparing for investment opportunities in Turkey, said Kodal, noting that recently in a partnership with Krea Group, Pradera aims to acquire new shopping malls in Istanbul. “I trust in the Turkish economy and believe the country will attract more investors,” Kodal said.

Arab investment in Turkey totaled $10.6 billion at the end of last year, according to Ibrahim S. Dabdoub, chief executive of the National Bank of Kuwait, who recently spoke to the Daily News on the sidelines of the sixth Turkish-Arab Economic Forum in Istanbul.

Kodal said his company Krea is ready to for major investments in three large residential projects in Istanbul. Kodal said two residential buildings would be constructed on the Anatolian side of the city for the low-level income groups. The total amount of the investment would be nearly $300 million excluding the cost of the land located in the heart of the city. “We will start construction next year,” Kodal said, adding that Krea is open to partnering with local and foreign investors for the project.

Talking about foreign investment in Turkey, Kodal said: “Unpredictability due to snap changes in the laws and legislation causes concern among foreign investors in Turkey.” He said he was confident about the economic dynamics of the country, noting that still some foreign investors are concerned about the booming current account deficit and unpredictability caused by snap changes in legislation that affect the investment climate.
“I still strongly advise foreign investors to invest in Turkey in the midst of the economic crisis in Europe and political turmoil in the Middle East, despite the lingering problems with legislation,” Kodal said. “Turkey is in a transition phase while economically growing to implement long-term reforms rather than make snap changes in legislation,” he said. Kodal also said Turkey needed stronger enforcement of the laws regarding contracts signed in business deals.

According to recent official figures, foreign direct investment, or FDI, to Turkey in the first five months of 2011 more than doubled to $5.6 billion.

17 Ağustos 2011 Çarşamba

Olympic games not a cheap dream

Turkey’s bid to host 2020 Olympic Games openly contradicts the government’s latest call for less spending. Still, if the country manages to win the multi-national race to house the games, the construction sector will enliven, some say
The main venue for the 2012Olympic Games in London is seen in this file photo.

The main venue for the 2012Olympic Games in London is seen in this file photo.
Some Turkish ministers have broached the idea of cutting back on spending in light of increasingly negative economic forecasts but the country could be gearing up for a spending spree if Istanbul’s dream of landing the 2020 Olympic Games comes true.

If Istanbul, which has failed to win the bid to host the games four times in the past, is selected to host the games, the country would need to spend billions over the next nine years to be ready for the Olympics, the world’s largest multi-sport event.

“Turkey has the power and financial capacity to host the games,” Serdar Bacaksız, board member of Limak Holding, a Turkish group active in several businesses, including port management, energy and construction, told the Hürriyet Daily News by phone Monday.

Evaluating the candidacy of Istanbul to host the games, Bacaksız said, “Istanbul already needs major investment in infrastructure, sport facilities and transportation.” Such a target as 2020 might accelerate the process and bring dynamism to the metropolis, he added.

London, which has been readying to host the 2012 games, allocated nearly $15.1 billion for the preparations, according to official data from the London Olympic Authority, or ODA. Beijing invested approximately $40 billion for the glamorous games it held in 2008, while neighboring Athens spent nearly $11.2 billion for the 2004 games. In the last three Olympic Games, hosts have spent an average of roughly $22.1 billion for the event.

The return of the investment would be great as the reputation of Istanbul and Turkey would benefit from the “shining visibility” of the games, said Bacaksız, adding that a city that has long had negative associations due to films like “Midnight Express” might at last receive a public makeover.

The economy of the city would benefit as most of the construction work would be run by Turkish companies, creating new jobs. “It would be a real boost for Turkey’s construction sector.”

The London games are expected to net the British capital an estimated 2.1 billion pounds in revenue, of which 400 million pounds will affect areas outside of London.

The games, which will require 70,000 volunteers and 7.9 million spectators, will provide 20,000 construction jobs this year, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD.”
‘Investment for nothing’

“Turkey’s candidacy for is a result of the country’s economic performance,” Rona Yırcalı, the board chairman of the Foreign Economic Relations Board, or DEİK, told the Daily News, adding that Turkey’s economic outlook and political stability were “way better than before.”

Because the infrastructure investments will stay in the country after the games, “we should take it as investments for nothing,” he said. “Turkey could also increase its tourism revenues with it.”

Tourists spent about $6 billion in Sydney in 2000-2001 after the Australian city hosted the games in 2000.
Istanbul has made several previous bids for the Summer Games. The city was a candidate for the 2000 games, but lost in the voting. It sought to bid again for the 2004 Olympics, which were held in Athens, but failed to become a candidate city. It became a candidate for 2008 but lost to Beijing. The Turkish city’s most recent bid was for the 2012 Games but it failed to become a candidate; the 2020 bid will be its fifth bid.
A lack of infrastructure and insufficient public transportation might push Turkey to spend more than others, İnan Demir, the chief economist of Finansbank, told the Daily News.

On the other hand, the low cost of labor and affordable construction materials could lower the budget, he said.

“One way or the other, it would boost the country’s economy for sure,” he said, noting that some countries hosted the Olympics ended up with public debts, so Turkey should be careful about the volume of the investments.

For example, there is 10 percent chance that the United Kingdom might end up losing 517 million pounds by the end of the games, according to a study titled “The Economic Impact of the Olympics” by Dr. Adam Blake of the University of Nottingham.

Rome, Madrid and Tokyo are among the other official candidates to host the 2020 games. The winning city will be chosen Sept. 7, 2013, in Buenos Aires.

Philips may revisit Turkey for growth

Philips is seeking double-digit growth in Turkey, according to a top executive. The Dutch company is planning to relaunch manufacturing in the country
Turkey is an important example for other countries in the region and can serve
as a hub for them, says Willem Rozenberg, chief executive of Philips Turkey.

Turkey is an important example for other countries in the region and can serve as a hub for them, says Willem Rozenberg, chief executive of Philips Turkey.
Multinational Dutch company Philips is aiming for aggressive growth in the robust Turkish market, according to the top executive of the Turkish branch of the company, who noted that Phillips is considering joint ventures and acquisitions in Turkey to achieve its goals.

Philips might consider restarting manufacturing in Turkey due to “tremendous change” in global economic stability in recent years, said Willem Rozenberg, chief executive of Philips Turkey & Caucasus, speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on Thursday. Founded in Istanbul in 1930, the company manufactured a wide range of products in Turkey until 2008. Talking about the future plans of the company, Rozenberg said, “The company might return to Turkish with an industrial presence in some form.”

“Turkish President Abdullah Gül emphasized previously about the new balance between East and West, as the West is losing some of it power to the East,” said Rozenberg, noting that Turkey has the vision to understand the change and locate itself in the heart of the evolution. “No one could have known that United States’ credit rating was going to be downgraded a few months ago,” he added.

Talking about the Turkish economy, Rozenberg said the country has turned into “an economically independent country” from a country that was in need of constant support from others such as the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, a few years ago. “Turkey now says that it can solve its own problems,” he said, adding that many investors trust in Turkey more than before. According to him, Turkey has a serious challenge still waiting to be tackled; the income distribution gap and lack of infrastructure in some regions. “Turkey is highly developed on one side and needs a lot of development on the other side,” added Rozenberg.

Rozenberg said the company has currently total market size of $2 billion in home appliances, $1 billion in lighting and $250 million in health care, noting that Philips Turkey aims to reach double-digit growth on a yearly basis. “We aim to exceed Turkey’s gross domestic product growth by two times in each year,” he said, noting that the company targets to reach 15 percent growth in the market.

“We cannot just be successful by bombarding the market with new products, but need locals inside,” Rozenberg said. “We are interested in capitalizing on local opportunities through local partners, joint ventures and acquisitions.”

 “Turkey is an important example for other countries in the region,” said Rozenberg, noting that many international investors sees the country as “a hub for penetrating into new markets” such as the Middle East or North Africa. Referring to Turkish construction companies actively running giant projects in Russia, Iraq and Central Asian countries, he said Philips also plans to penetrate into new markets especially in the lighting sector through Turkish construction companies.

The company also plans to grow in home health care equipment. “We are having talks with Turkish officials to bring health service into patients’ homes,” said Rozenberg, adding that the finance of home health care services could be provided through health insurance policies. Monitoring patients at home and giving some services at home through high-tech user-friendly equipment could be much more affordable and efficient for Turkey, said Rozenberg. “Our company aims to take an active role in such a project that Turkish Health Ministry would launch in the future.”

Storage facility opposed by locals in NW Turkish province

Locals strongly object the construction of a storage facility for bulk liquids, planned for Yalova, a province located in one of the most active fault lines
‘No to pollution of our seas,’ reads a placard during a demonstration by the Yalova Agriculture Chamber in this Sunday photo.

‘No to pollution of our seas,’ reads a placard during a demonstration by the Yalova Agriculture Chamber in this Sunday photo.
Dutch firm Royal Vopak, a leading provider of storage facilities for bulk liquids, is preparing for a new investment in northwestern Turkey, but the project might bring the region to the edge of an environmental disaster in the future, a local businessmen told the Hürriyet Daily News on Thursday.

“This investment brings a serious danger to the Marmara region,” including Istanbul and its population estimated around 15 million, said Şaban Beşli, Yalova Chamber of Commerce, noting that the nearly 30,000 square meters of land earmarked for the storage facilities of the company sits on some of Turkey’s most active fault lines. Speaking to the Daily News over the phone on Thursday, he said the Turkish government reached an agreement with the company without the consent of local authorities.

“It is as dangerous as having an atomic bomb in this part of the country,” said Beşli. According to him, there will be around 15 tanks with more than 7,700 cubic meters of capacity for each containing 39 different types of chemicals and dangerous gases. “Any leakage from the storage tanks would end the sea life and agriculture in the region,” he added.

He recalled the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that hit the northwestern province of İzmit in 1999, causing the deaths of 17,000 people and leaving approximately half a million homeless. “This is not imaginary, we have lived through it before,” said the head of the chamber. In 1999, AKSA Acyclic facility in Yalova leaked nearly 6,900 tons of chemicals into the region when the facility was damaged in the earthquake. “The Dutch facility might be even riskier,” he said.

“We are currently investigating the possibilities of the investment in Yalova,” said Rob Bouderstijn, manager of investor relations at Royal Vopak, noting that the decision is not for certain, speaking to the Daily News over the phone on Wednesday. Declining to comment on the details of the investment plan, Bouderstijn said the company would reconsider the investment if the investigation bared results stating a high risk due to the fault lines.

“The sea life will be under the threat of poisonous chemicals,” said Erdal Topalak, chairman of the Fishermen’s Cooperative of Yalova, noting that local businessmen and farmers are against the construction of such storage facilities containing dangerous materials. “If it was not a shaky part of the country, we might understand Vopak,” he said, adding that the company rather reserved to inform the locals living in the region.
“We all know that it is a strong company in all means, but so are the locals,” Topalak said, adding that many protests are expected from the locals living in the region to challenge the construction of the storage units. k HDN

4 Ağustos 2011 Perşembe

Japan still bids for Turkey's nuclear power despite TEPCO

Thursday, August 4, 2011

TEPCO, Japanese operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant decided to withdraw from Japan’s bid to join Turkey’s second nuclear plant of the country, noting Far East nation is not out of project completely said a Japanese official told to Hürriyet Daily News on Wednesday interview.

“Turkey had the concern that Japanese side would step back completely,” said Shinli Hirai, trade commercial attaché at Japanese Embassy in Ankara on the sidelines of the talks held between Turkish and Japanese officials. He said that Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, prefered to bid for a nuclear reactor in Vietnam instead of the second nuclear power plant of Turkey to be built in northern province of Sinop by the Black Sea coast. “Japanese officials will continue to talks despite the decision of TEPCO,” added Hirai. He said that company’s position likely to be replaced by another Japanese firm soon. “Japanese bid is not over yet,” he added.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız also left an open door about the talks between two countries while speaking to reporters in Ankara on Wednesday. “Japan’s bid consisted of three steps, including construction, finance and operation, however Japanese government had told Turkish executives that it would make a new model offer,” Yıldız said according to Anatolia News Agency. "We have told them that we will assess all flexible cooperation,” he added.

New sanctions worry Turkish businessmen

Growing turmoil and violence in Syria have the European Union rolling up its sleeves to play a more active role in solving the problem by imposing asset freezes and travel bans. But economic sanctions by countries including Turkey might leave its business interests in the Arab republic in a tight spot
In this file photo Turkish truck drivers sit on the side of the road while waiting to cross the Cilvegözü border to Syria.

In this file photo Turkish truck drivers sit on the side of the road while waiting to cross the Cilvegözü border to Syria.
The prospect of more economic sanctions against increasingly strife-torn Syria have Turkish businessmen worried, leading business figures told the Hürriyet Daily News on Tuesday.

Growing turmoil and violence in Syria have the European Union rolling up its sleeves to play a more active role in solving the problem by imposing asset freezes and travel bans. But economic sanctions by countries including Turkey might leave its business interests in a tight spot.

“Sanctions imposed previously on other countries have not brought many sustainable solutions to problems,” Rona Yırcalı, the board chairman of the Foreign Economic Relations Board, or DEİK, told the Daily News in a phone interview Tuesday, though he noted that there was not yet much information available about the content of possible sanctions.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague is among the top European figures calling for tougher sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. “The sanctions have to come from both Western nations, Arab countries and regional powers like Turkey,” Hague said in an interview Monday, according to the Associated Press. “The sanctions decision could not be made and applied by only Turkey. If the UN decides to apply sanctions, it is a different thing,” Tolga Uçak, the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s information department told the Daily News on Tuesday. “It is not that easy to unite Arab nations to impose international sanctions against Syria,”

Rızanur Meral, the chairman of Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey, or TUSKON, told the Daily News. “Arab countries would know that a similar sanction might be imposed on their countries in the future.” According to Meral, the imposition of international sanctions against Syria does not seem possible at this time.

It would be “impossible for Turkey to step back from humanitarian help and sending food and medicine” to Syria, Meral said, adding that other trade items might be discussed according to the context of the sanctions. “It would be hard to control the borders for illegal trade,” he added, noting that Turkey shares its longest border with Syria.

Syrian money rushing to Turkey’s safe harbor
Many Syrians are in a rush to bring their investments into Turkey as the country serves as the closest safe harbor for Syrians worried about the instability in their country, Özkan Tütüncü, the secretary-general of the Chamber of Jewelers in the southern Turkish province of Hatay, told the Daily News.

“There is a trend in opening bank accounts at Turkish banks,” he said, noting that the transactions are done with the help of Syrian relatives who are Turkish citizens and living in Hatay. “It is known in the city that Syrians have started to open high-volume deposit accounts in last few months due to the Syrian turmoil,” Tütüncü said.

He added that the trend seems to be continuing as the investment climate in the neighboring country has almost disappeared. Turkey’s official figures confirm Tütüncü’s claims.

The total volume of the deposit accounts at banks in Hatay reached $5.84 million by the end of March this year, jumping from $4.38 million in March 2010 according to the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency, or BBDK. In last 12 months, the total amount in deposit accounts at Turkish banks in Hatay has reached nearly $1.46 billion, according to the agency. Foreign exchange deposits rose by 48 percent, to $1.93 million, by the end of March 2011 from $1.30 million in the same month of last year.

Turkey, EU ramp up Damascus pressure

Tuesday, August 2, 2011
UK’s foreign secretary and his Turkish counterpart agree to raise the
pressure on Syria as violence continues to sweep through the country
A group of Turks and Syrians chant slogans, wave flags and carry signs calling for the removal of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the ouster of his regime during a demonstration held outside the Syrian Embassy in Ankara on Monday. AFP photo

A group of Turks and Syrians chant slogans, wave flags and carry signs calling for the removal of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the ouster of his regime during a demonstration held outside the Syrian Embassy in Ankara on Monday. AFP photo

As increased violence continues to rage throughout Syria, the European Union and Turkey have agreed to put more pressure on Damascus, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday.
The expectations of more pressure “include Turkey,” which has been very active in trying to persuade Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to enact reforms instead of continuing his violent crackdown on protesters, Hague said, answering questions from the Hürriyet Daily News about a possible boost in sanctions on Syria with a statement from an interview he gave to BBC Radio 4 on Monday.

Hague spoke by phone with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Monday, a day after Syrian tanks stormed the restive city of Hama, killing at least 95 civilians, his office said. “Both sides agreed on increasing the pressure against Syria,” said Dima Naaman, the press and public affairs officer at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“The British foreign secretary’s message is clear; he would like to see more pressure from Turkey, not sanctions,” Naaman told the Daily News in a phone interview Tuesday.

In the written statement sent to the Daily News about Turkey’s role in the international response to the Syrian turmoil, Hague said Davutoğlu “agreed that increased international pressure was now necessary, so we will continue working on this.”

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the phone talks between the British and Turkish foreign ministries. “The British foreign secretary called Davutoğlu to discuss international matters, including Syria,” the official told the Daily News on Tuesday. Regarding possible sanctions to be imposed against Syria, the official said: “The decisions of the European Union are only binding for them, not for Turkey. There is nothing like sanctions on Turkey’s agenda for now.”

The European Union expanded its sanctions against Syria on Monday, imposing asset freezes and travel bans against five more military and government officials, according to an Associated Press report Tuesday. The decision brings the number of individuals targeted by the EU to 35, including Assad.

Turkey will maintain its ambassador in Damascus even as it steps up its pressure on the Syrian administration so that it can continue to work to urge reforms, a Turkish diplomat told the Daily News on Tuesday.

Italy has announced the recall of its ambassador in Damascus for consultation due to the “horrible repression” in Syria and called on other EU members to do the same. Yet Ankara plans to keep its ambassador in Damascus, the diplomat said. Ambassador Ömer Önhon was recently called back to Damascus from his holiday due to the urgent situation.

“At the moment there are more things to do than there were previously,” the official said, drawing attention to the efforts of international actors, which “should put pressure on Syria.”

Davutoğlu again condemned the recent acts of violence in Syria with a statement late Monday, saying Turkey would not remain silent in light of the fact that scores of people were being killed every day, while also calling on Damascus to cooperate with neighboring countries.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Store, Davutoğlu reiterated that “both the timing and the method of the Syrian government forces’ operation in the city of Hama were completely wrong.”

“While we were expecting the Syrian government to make reforms, we learned about the operation. It is very wrong to conduct such an operation on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan. Such events give wrongful messages to both the Syrian people and the international community,” he said.

“We hoped Syria would resolve its problems on its own by carrying out a series of reforms. It is the best option to encourage the Syrian government to make more reforms,” Davutoğlu said, adding that the second option was to resolve problems through regional dynamism by cooperating with neighboring countries.

“But if problems are left unsolved and every day scores of people are killed, no one can remain silent,” Davutoğlu said.

Echoing his remarks, Turkish President Abdullah Gül also said that “it is not possible for us to remain indifferent to this violence,” the Anatolia news agency reported Monday.

Syrian government forces recently stormed the city of Hama, killing at least 100 people.
* Sevil Küçükkoşum contributed to this report from Ankara.