11 Eylül 2011 Pazar

Minister: Israel acts like Somali pirates

Gökhan Kurtaran

Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım (R) is seen during an interview with Hürriyet Daily News correspondent Gökhan Kurtaran on Thursday. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım (R) is seen during an interview with Hürriyet Daily News correspondent Gökhan Kurtaran on Thursday. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Israel’s raid last year on an aid flotilla in the eastern Mediterranean Sea was “no different” under international law than what Somali pirates are doing in the Aden Gulf, Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım said Thursday.

“Israel’s act in these waters is no different than the pirates in the Aden Gulf,” Yıldırım told the Hürriyet Daily News during a meeting in Istanbul, referring to the diplomatic feud between Israel and Turkey over Israeli commandos’ deadly raid May 31, 2010, on a Gaza-bound aid ship, killing nine Turks.

“Except for the 12-mile coastal shore, the waters are open to everyone’s use. No country has the right to prevent us from using our law-granted rights,” the minister added.

On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey “will apply all necessary preventive measures in order to ensure its navigational freedom,” noting that the country has the longest coastline bordering on the East Mediterranean.

Yıldırım on Thursday expressed agreement with Davutoğlu’s earlier comment that Israel does not have the right to implement a 20-mile zone of territorial waters along its shores.
“No one has the right to take over these waters. If they do, they will get their response from us,” the transportation minister said.

Referring to Israel’s demand for 20 miles of territorial waters due to the sea blockade of Gaza, Yıldırım said Israel has the right to only 12 nautical miles in the eastern Mediterranean. “The way that Israel is acting by not obeying international law is sea banditry,” he said, adding that Turkey would not accept the unlawful implementation.
“Stretching from Gibraltar Strait to the Gulf of İskenderun, 23 nations have the right to travel freely in [these] international waters,” Yıldırım said.

Accusing Israel of violating international maritime laws, the minister said “there is nothing we will do about the current situation” as long as Israel refuses to apologize for the raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship.
Israel “will not apologize to Turkey” and will not lift its blockade on Gaza, Israeli Transportation Minister Israel Katz, said on Israeli public radio Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli Navy is “a strategic arm” of the state, adding that “this is a long and strong arm,” daily Hürriyet reported Thursday. His comments followed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement Tuesday that Turkish Navy ships would “show up” more frequently in the eastern Mediterranean.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak played down the diplomatic crisis with Ankara on Thursday, saying the current dispute “will pass,” AFP reported. Describing the dispute over Gaza as “spilled milk,” Barak added, “We are the two countries that are most important to the West in the region.”

Turkey late last week downgraded its diplomatic relations with Israel to the second-secretary level and suspended all military contracts after a long-awaited U.N. report on Israel’s flotilla raid was leaked to U.S. media on Sept. 1.

5 Eylül 2011 Pazartesi

Key Israelis warn of high Turkey rift cost


srael’s Premier Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem over the weekend. Under rising pressure
both from his country’s one-time ally Turkey and leading Israeli figures, Netanyahu rebuffs calls to mend ties with Ankara. AFP photo

Escalating tensions with once-key ally Turkey, coupled with a growing social protest movement on the domestic front, has started to display signs of a widening rift within the Israeli establishment. Key figures, including the highly influential head of the Israeli Central Bank, have started reminding officials of the material cost of the administration’s obstinacy toward Turkey, warning of huge losses in trade at a time when Israel is in dire need of such income.
“Turkey will be a big market in this region. It will be a major exporter,” Anatolia news agency quoted Stanley Fischer, governor of the Bank of Israel, as saying at a conference held in Tel Aviv on Monday. “The consequence of not having trade relations with Turkey will be expensive for us, because [Turkey] is the most important of the economies in the wider region, including the Gulf countries.”
Diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel have been in a downward spiral for the past few years, but until today, the sphere of commerce did not feel repercussions. The bilateral trade volume hit $3.1 billion in 2010, jumping by 26 percent from $2.5 billion in 2009, even after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s January 2009 outburst against Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos, Switzerland. Israel’s exports to Turkey accounted for around $1.35 billion of this figure, making Turkey the sixth most important trade partner for Tel Aviv.
Fischer’s comments will surely resonate throughout the Israeli political spectrum, as he is among the rare public figures who have not lost credibility despite the economic and political difficulties that Israel has been facing for some time. Acting ahead of the curve during the 2008 global financial crisis, Fischer is credited with helping Israel become one of the few economies in the world that did not contract. The Israeli economy grew by 4 percent in 2008, 0.2 percent in 2009 and 3.4 percent in 2010, even as other economies in the region, including Turkey, faced massive contractions. In his bid earlier this year to lead the International Monetary Fund, Fischer even received support from the Palestinian administration.

Top businessmen lament lost opportunities 

The central banker, ranked among the world’s brightest economists, was not alone in voicing concerns. Menashe Carmon, the chairman of the Tel Aviv-based Israel-Turkey Business Council, joined him as he spoke to the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday. “Our desire is that there would be no drastic steps taken by either side,” said Carmon. “A calm and more logical atmosphere is needed for business ties to remain [strong].” He added that the level that bilateral trade has reached is “too valuable to lose” for either country.
“The crisis with Ankara could cause heavy damage to our industry,” said Uriel Lynn, head of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, according to Yedioth Ahronoth. “If the Turkish authorities decide to sever their trade relations with Israel, we will lose an excellent and important trade partner,” the newspaper quoted Lynn as saying.

Rona Yırcalı, board chairman of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board, agreed that after Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s statement on Friday, this time, the situation is more severe. “This time the situation is really serious,” Yırcalı said. “Things are getting worse and we will have to wait and see the results in business.”

Turkey’s imports from Israel jumped by nearly 40 percent in the first half of 2011, from $648 million to $950 million. Its exports to Israel rose by 16 percent in the same period, from $907 million to $1.05 billion. k HDN
Gökhan Kurtaran from Istanbul contributed to this report

2 Eylül 2011 Cuma

Foreign investors rush to Turkey’s fair mark

Foreign companies are increasingly investing in Turkish fair and exhibition market and this trend will accelerate in the second half of the year, an executive says. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

Friday, September 2, 2011
Foreign companies are increasingly investing in Turkish fair and exhibition market and this trend will accelerate in the second half of the year, an executive says

International exhibition companies have rushed to Turkey’s fair and exhibition market in recent years by acquiring major stakes of local firms and the trend could accelerate in the second half of this year, according to the top executive of an international agency.

“Merger and acquisition interest in of foreign companies started about three years ago and has been steadily increasing,” Steve Monnington, founder of Mayfield Media Strategies – a global company that specializes in mergers and acquisitions and strategic business development for the exhibition industry, told the Hüriyet Daily News in a recent interview.

More and more international companies are looking at the Turkish market, Monnington said, adding that Turkey’s continuing prosperity stimulates the interest. The majority of acquisitions take place in emerging markets, such as Brazil, China and Turkey, he added.

Tarsus, the third largest international exhibition organizer in Dubai, last month acquired 75 percent of the shares of Istanbul Fair Organization, or IFO, Monnington said. The company will use IFO as a vehicle for further investments in Turkey, by launching its international exhibition brands into the Turkish market, he said. “They may also make further acquisitions in Turkey.”

IFO is one of the top organizers of elevator and recycling sector fairs in Turkey.

Recalling that Thailand-based UBM had acquired 65 percent of Turkey’s Rotaforte, last year’s organizer for the Istanbul Jewelry Fair, Monnington said the U.K.’s Clarion Events also moved into the Turkish market with the acquisition of Survey Turkey, the organizing firm of Zow, a trade fair for suppliers in the furniture and interiors industry in Istanbul. The acquisition included Buildist, a launch event for the construction sector focusing on design, architecture, innovation and technology in Istanbul.

Moreover, Bolognafiere – one of Italy’s leading exhibition companies, created a sales and marketing partnership between their brand Cosmoprof and Turkey’s Ipekyolu, last year’s organizer of the Beauty Eurasia Show in Istanbul. Germany’s Messe Stuttgart also acquired a majority stake in Turkey’s Ares, whose main show is the international trade fair for bakery, patisserie, ice cream and chocolate machineries.
“In all cases these partnerships have created synergies between the Turkish events and the events already run by the international organizer,” said Monnington, noting that this is a logical approach to expanding in an emerging market.

Full internationalization by 2012

“There are a number of potential deals active at the moment and we expect two or three more to be completed by the end of the year,” Monnnigton said. “Turkey’s exhibition market will be more or less fully internationalized by the end of 2012.” He said most organizers were looking for expansion outside of their home markets, especially where those markets are mature and there is relatively little growth. “Money is increasingly being spent in Turkey; one of the markets on everybody’s list that can be described as a hot market,” Monnington said.

The largest international organizers in Turkey today are also the longest established. ITE and German Hannover Messe International have both been active in Turkey for more than 10 years and both originally entered the market by creating joint ventures with local organizers: British ITE with Turkey’s CNR Exhibitions and Hannover with Dünya Fuar.

Firm apologizes to airline’s ‘flying chefs’

DO&CO, the firm that provides cooks for Turkish Airlines, apologized to 130 chefs on board, promising to improve the company’s communication with them. Hürriyet photo


The head of DO&CO, the contractor firm that provides cooks to Turkey’s flagship airline company Turkish Airlines, has sent an apology letter to 130 chefs on board, following a Hürriyet Daily News report last week that the “flying cooks” were being prevented from unionizing and threatened with layoffs.

 “I would like to apologize first that the communication flow between us was not the best in recent weeks,” said Christian Reisenegger, head of Flying Chefs of DO&CO, in an e-mail letter obtained by the Daily News. “Now it is time to come back and to say sorry that we could not have the chance to get in touch from time to time to solve your issues or your problems immediately.”

Reisenegger also called for the chefs not to let negative sentiments overrun them and their great spirit.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a flying chef told the Daily News on Aug. 20, “The way the company threatens us is unfair.” He also said the company did not provide enough weekly days off. The source also claimed that the company had threatened the chefs with pink slips if any of them decided to join a Turkish labor union.

Ali Genç, a Turkish Airlines official, denied the claims of the flying chefs on Aug. 22, saying the chefs flew only 82 hours per month.

Reisenegger wrote in his apology letter that he was open to talk with the chefs at any time, adding that if the chefs did not want to contact the administration directly, they could also instead use a new portal to express their concerns indirectly. “I am not lying or telling you some stories. This is not my way and will never happen,” he said, assuring the chefs that the company would keep communication channels open.

Terror scares domestic tourists to Southeast

This file photo shows a view from Mardin, a historic southeastern province that attracts thousands of domestic and foreign tourists every year. Tour operators say they have hardly taken tourists to the province this year due to security concerns despite the fact that their routes are away from the areas where clashes usually take place.

Monday, August 29, 2011
Southeastern destinations are failing to remain as an alternative for domestic tourists due to deadly PKK attacks. A tour operator, which took 2,000 people there in 2010, has convinced only 60 people this summer

Recent terror attacks in Turkey’s southwestern provinces have added to the turmoil in neighboring Syria and wiped out traditional Ramadan bayram holiday tours to the region, hurting both tour operators and local businesses
Several tourism companies told the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday that they have either canceled tours to the region this year or did not launch them at all despite the nine-day holiday period that promised big revenues.

“The number of local tourists preferring cultural tours to Southeast Anatolia dropped significantly this summer, compared to last year,” said Kerem Gökçe, head of cultural tours at Jolly Tour in Istanbul, one of the country’s biggest travel agencies.

Jolly Tour took nearly 2,000 people to the region during last summer. “We have served only 60 people so far this summer,” Gökçe said.

Three soldiers were killed on Sunday in the southeastern Hakkari province when alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, detonated landmines as their military convoy passed by. At least 37 soldiers have been killed by landmines or clashes with the PKK in August.

Turkey’s State Railways, or TCDD, has also recently canceled train tours in the country’s eastern provinces, said an official from the state-run company’s Diyarbakır office, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Routine train services to the eastern province of Van and southeastern provinces of Batman and Elazığ still continue, the official said in a phone interview Monday. “Still, last summer, there were cultural tours from Ankara to the region by train. Nowadays the most frequent visitors to the region are journalists.”

Still, the official spoke of no link between the regional terror and the declining number of visitors.

Hotels lose big money

Noting that tour routes are organized according to safety conditions in the region, Jolly Tour’s Gökçe said travel agencies and hotels have lost millions of Turkish Liras due to the recent terror attacks. A hotel with 70 rooms, for example, would lose approximately 10,000 liras per day due to cancellations, he said. “In that sense, during the nine-day Ramadan holiday, each hotel in the region has lost nearly 90,000 liras.”

According to him, the slump in demand among domestic tourists to the southeastern region of the country has also hit locals and villagers there. Cafes, restaurants serving tradition foods and people selling souvenirs on the streets are starting to feel the “bitter taste” of the slow down in business.

‘I wouldn’t go there’

“There is almost no demand for southeastern cultural tours,” said Nazlı Karaboya, customer representative of Arnika Tours based in the northwestern province of Çanakkale, speaking to the Daily News on Monday. Commenting about the security concerns, she said, “If I was a tourist, I myself would not choose to go there.”
“Compared to previous years, the demand is down for southeastern provinces,” said Özgür Yılmaz, a manager at tatilsepeti.com, one of the largest online travel booking platforms in Turkey.

Yılmaz said during a phone interview on Monday that his company had already canceled a tour to the southeastern provinces of the country.

Ferhat Kuşçu, another executive from Jolly Tour, said: “We have not yet faced any cultural or ethnic difficulties in the region, but still the hesitation is widespread among domestic tourists. The psychological pressure of the terror acts scares tourists.”

Luxury Istanbul homes attract Mideast buyers

Inside of the Zeki Paşa Mansion is seen in this photo. Sotheby’s is in talks with tourism investors who want to buy the asset.

Rich Arab buyers are getting more interested in the waterside mansions and expensive houses by Istanbul’s Boshporus, according to the head of Sotheby’s Turkey. The recent political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is also playing a role in drawing investors to safe havens such a Turkey, the executive says

Due to ongoing conflicts and clashes sweeping through Middle Eastern and North African countries, Arab investors are flocking to the Turkish real estate market to invest in luxurious residences and waterfront villas by Istanbul’s Bosporus Strait, according to the top executive of Sotheby’s local branch.

“In recent years, Arab investors started monitoring the Turkish market, but now this has accelerated,” Arman Özver, head of Sotheby's International Realty, told the Hürriyet Daily News during a recent interview. Extremely rich Arabs generally pay from $2 million to $30 million for houses on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait, which divides the Asian and European parts of Istanbul, Özver said, adding that the remaining Arab investors look for luxury residence projects in central Istanbul for around $250,000.

Mansion to become hotel

Zeki Paşa Mansion is one of the flamboyant survivors and last of the great waterfront mansions on the Bosporus. It is listed in the company’s portfolio for 187.2 million Turkish Liras.

“We are continuing talks with two international hotel chains and they both want to turn the historic building into a boutique hotel,” Özver said. The luxurious house was built for Zeki Pasha, an Ottoman official working in the service of the Sultan Abdülhamid II, emperor of the Ottomans in the second half of the 19th century. With 3,000 square meters of enclosed space and 4,000-square-meter garden by the water, the residence also attracts interest from Central Asian investors, he said.

Cultural similarities shared by Turkey and Arab countries as well as the religious commonalities play a significant role in Arab investors choosing to live in Turkey, according to Özver. “Turkish soap operas widely watched and followed in Middle Eastern countries also attract many wealthy Arab investors looking for luxury here. The country’s economic and political stability also encourage investors to consider Turkey for new investments.”

Arab investments in Turkey totaled $10.6 billion last year, according to İbrahim 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.

Building its real estate portfolio up to a total of $500 million in the last six months, Özver said the local branch of Sotheby’s is in talks with 15 individual and corporate customers mainly from Middle Eastern and Gulf countries. “Nearly 70-80 percent of the sales take place in Istanbul and the rest in western and southern provinces,” he said.

Talking about the future plans of the international real estate company in the Turkish market, Özver said Sotheby’s plans to open 12 more offices in Istanbul, Ankara, the northwestern province of Bursa, the western province of Izmir and the southern province of Antalya. “We aim to reach total revenue of $1 billion in three years’ time,” Özver said.

Slight drop in trade gap fails to convince experts

After a record level of $10.2 billion in June, Turkey’s foreign trade deficit fell to nearly $9 billion last month. Still, the figure for the first seven months is 79.1 percent higher than the same period in 2010. Economists agree that the government should take structural measures to fight against the ever-growing deficit
Russia topped the list of importers to Turkey with a 19.1 percent increase in July compared with the previous month. The country sold $2.06 billion worth of goods to Turkey in July. Imports from Germany were recorded as $1.89 billion followed by Italy.

Russia topped the list of importers to Turkey with a 19.1 percent increase in July compared with the previous month. The country sold $2.06 billion worth of goods to Turkey in July. Imports from Germany were recorded as $1.89 billion followed by Italy.
Turkey’s foreign trade deficit, a weak point in the fast growing economy, reached $9.01 billion in July, increasing 38.4 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat.
Despite a relative slow down over June data, Turkish economists remain cautious on the matter, calling for structural reforms to fight the gap.

“There is a slightly positive change in the data, but we will have to cautious about it,” economist Emre Alkin told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview on Friday.

The July figure stood nearly $1.2 billion under June data, a record in nation’s history.

 “It is too early to be pleased about the monthly decrease,” Alkin said, adding that a possible slowdown in production might be lying behind the slight drop.

Some 85 percent of the nation’s imports were composed of intermediate goods and raw materials. “The next few months’ results will show whether the government’s structural reforms worked well or not,” Alkin said.
The gap in the first seven months of the year touched $63 billion, with a 79.1 percent jump from nearly $35 billion in the same period of the last.

The export/import cover ratio also slumped, from 64.6 percent to 55.1 percent, according to the data.
Turkey’s total exports in June increased by 24.2 percent, compared with the previous month, and reached $11.9 billion. Imports in July were up 29.9 percent compared with the same month last year and were recorded as $20.8 billion.

Exports in the first seven months, meanwhile, increased 20.4 percent compared with the same period in 2010, reaching $77.4 billion. The January-July imports simultaneously jumped 41.3 percent to $140.5 billion. 2010 imports for the given period stood at $99.4 billion.

Commenting on the fresh data, Nurhan Toğuç, chief economist of Ata Invest, said she expected the downward trend in the current account deficit to continue in the second half of the year thanks to the decrease in the value of the Turkish Lira and oil prices.
“Russia- and China-dominated import items should be analyzed by the Turkish government to bring them down to more reasonable levels,” Toğuç said. “Unfortunately there is no balance in trade with many countries,” she said, adding that Turkey should work on producing some portion of the import items domestically.

“This can only be accomplished with structural reforms to support Turkish industrialists through incentives,” she said. According to her, if Turkey’s trade deficit continues to increase rapidly, “volatility of the Turkish economy from the global shocks could rise.”

Noting that Turkey’s monthly trade deficit in the last nine months floated above $7 billion, “These records are unbearable and not sustainable for the Turkish economy,” said Salim Somçağ, an Istanbul-based independent economist.

Recalling that Turkey’s export/import cover ratio was around 70 percent in 2009, Somçağ told the Daily News that today’s ratio stood at only 55.1 percent.

According to him, the slowdown in June’s deficit compared with the previous month was mostly caused by a global cooling. “June’s trade deficit will add $5 billion to country’s current account deficit, bringing it to $74 billion by the end of June,” he said.

Germany: biggest trade partner

Germany remained as Turkey’s biggest export market with a 23 percent increase in June over the previous month, reaching $1.3 billion. Turkey’s exports to the United Kingdom also rose and hit $785 million. Italy followed with $739 million, Iraq with $656 million and France with $604 million.

Russia topped the list of importers to Turkey with a 19.1 percent increase in June compared with the previous month. Russia sold $2.06 billion worth of goods to Turkey last month. Imports from Germany were recorded as $1.89 billion followed by Italy with $1.25 billion.