Country of Origin Information Report


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2 Economy
2.01 The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) country report, released July 2008, noted that:
“Higher inflation and severe monetary policy tightening by the Central Bank in mid-2006 dampened domestic demand growth, resulting in a sharp slowdown of GDP growth from an annual average of 6.9% in 2006 to a modest 3.4% in the second half of 2007 (4.5% for the year as a whole). Growth accelerated to a surprisingly strong 6.6% in the first quarter of 2008, but we expect the rate of expansion to slow again during the remainder of this year. (p9)GDP growth accelerated from an average of 3.4% year on year in the second half of 2007 to a surprisingly strong 6.6% in the first quarter of 2008. Despite high interest rates and the weakness of consumer confidence indicators since September 2007 private consumption growth picked up to 7.3% in January-March compared with just 2.9% in the final quarter of 2007.” [107] (p16)
2.02 The World Bank Data and Statistics for Turkey – World Development Indicators database, April 2008 (website accessed 24 July 2008) recorded a GNI per capita [average annual income] in 2006 of US $5400. [45]
2.03 The 2008 Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) country report noted that:

“The March employment figures, which actually cover the February-April period, how a rise of 2.2% year on year in non-agricultural employment. Agricultural employment, however, continued to decline, and total employment increased by just 0.7%, which was not sufficient to offset working-age population growth. Accordingly, the rate of unemployment rose to 10.7% compared with 10.4% a year earlier, despite a decline in the already low workforce participation rate from 47% to 46.7%.” [107] (p17)

2.04 Jane’s Sentinel Country profile, updated 26 Feb 2008, noted that the pace of economic growth has now begun to slow and inflation remains high by EU standards. At the end of the second quarter of 2007 annual GNP growth stood at 3.9 per cent, raising questions about whether the government would be able to achieve its year-end target of five per cent. At the end of October 2007, annual consumer inflation stood at 7.7 per cent, down from 9.7 per cent at the end of 2006 but well above the government's target of five per cent for year-end… Officially, the unemployment rate in the country as a whole stood at 9.2 per cent in August 2007, up from 9.1 per cent in August 2006. However, urban unemployment stood at 11.6 per cent in August 2007, compared with a rate of 5.6 per cent in rural areas. [81a]
2.05 The Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) noted for the period covering April, May and June 2008 that the:
“Number of unemployed persons increased by 41 thousand persons compared to the same period of the previous year and has reached to 2 million 164 thousand persons in Turkey. Unemployment rate realized as 8.9 % without any change. Unemployment rate increased to 11 % with a 0.1 percentage points increase in urban areas and reached to 5.6 % with 0.2 percentage points decrease in rural areas. Non-agricultural unemployment rate realized as 11.5 % without any change compared to the same period of the previous year in Turkey. The rate is realized as 10.3 % with a 0.1 percentage points decrease for male and 15.7 % for female without any change.” [89c]
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3 History

Recent History

3.01 As noted in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Country Profile on Turkey, updated 3 April 2008 “The Republic of Turkey was founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a military hero, in 1923. His aim was to transform Turkey into a modern, secular state, which could compare with Western European nations in terms of military and economic strength. Today, Turkey is a member of almost every Western European international organisation. It joined NATO in 1952; the Council of Europe in 1949; and became a full candidate for European Union membership in 1999.” [4l]

3.02 As stated in the FCO country profile “Atatürk (Father Turk) was Turkey's first President; he died in 1938. The Turkish military regards itself as the main guardian of the principles of Atatürk's legacy, even to the point of intervening directly to restore political stability in 1960, 1971 and most recently in 1980… In September 1980 the Turkish military took power following a breakdown of law and order under a succession of weak and divided coalition governments during the 1970s.” [4l]
3.03 The FCO country profile further noted that “In 1982 a new Constitution was adopted. Turgut Özal replaced Evren as President in 1989. He modernised the Turkish economy and raised Turkey's international standing until his death in 1993. In May 1993 Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel was elected President. Mrs Tansu Çiller, previously Economics Minister, was elected to replace Demirel as Chairman of the True Path Party (DYP) in early June 1993 and thus became Turkey's first female Prime Minister.” [4l]
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Recent Political Developments
3.04 The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) in an article published 22 July 2007 noted that:

“On July 22, 2007, the Turkish public voted in early parliamentary elections called after the parliament failed to appoint a new president. The election of a new chief of state was the reason for the political stalemate in April and May and of the harsh split between the Kemalist military establishment of the Turkish Armed Forces (T.S.K.) and the Justice and Development Party (A.K.P.), the Islamic-rooted party led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The attempt at appointing an important Islamic political personality, such as Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, as the new president was the last straw between the T.S.K. and the A.K.P.” [51]

3.05 The PINR also further reported that “The military perceived the appointment of Gul as a presidential candidate (the president is also the commander-in-chief of the T.S.K.) as a direct menace for Turkey and its secular character. It also saw the act as one that would further weaken the power of the military.” [51]
3.06 As noted in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Country Profile on Turkey, updated 3 April 2008:
“Presidential elections were originally arranged for April 2007, but the AK Party candidate Abdullah ’Gul’s presidential candidacy was strongly opposed by the opposition party CHP, because of Gul’s supposed background in political Islam. The role of President has often been held by the secular establishment, and so the CHP refused to attend the voting. The failure of Parliament to elect a President precipitated early parliamentary elections on 22 July 2007.

“The governing AK Party were re-elected by popular vote, and gained a solid majority of seats. The official results were as follows:

“Justice and Development Party (AKP): 46.5% (341 seats)

Republican ’People’s Party (CHP): 20.9% (112 seats)

Nationalist Action Party (MHP): 14.3% (70 seats)

Independent Candidates: 5.3% (26 seats)

Following the parliamentary elections, AK Party candidate and former Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul was elected President by the new parliament on 28 August 2007.” [4l]

3.07 The FCO Country profile updated 3 April 2008 further noted that since the elections, some of the main developments include the signing of a UK-Turkey Strategic Partnership in October, which outlines key areas of UK-Turkish co-operation; the signing off of amendments to the Constitution in February, which most notably allows the wearing of headscarves in universities; and an increase of military activity on the border with Iraq, including a brief cross-border ground operation in February, targeting PKK terrorist camps.

On 14 March 2008, the Chief Prosecutor of the Appeals Court filed a law suit at the Constitutional Court for closure of the governing AK party, accusing them of violating secular principles. On 31 March, the Constitutional Court ruled unanimously that the case was admissible. The Court will now look at the content of the allegations while the AKP prepares to submit its defence. This process is likely to run for some 9-12 months. [4l]
3.08 The Guardian in an article published 30 July 2008 reported that:
“Turkey's highest court has rejected an attempt to close the governing AK Party on charges of trying to introduce Islamic rule. The chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, believed it wanted to replace Turkey's strictly secular system with sharia law. The attempt to close the party was triggered by the government's decision last February to allow female university students to wear the headscarf, seen as an Islamist symbol.” [38b]

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European Union accession negotiations 2007
3.09 As noted in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Country Profile Report 2008, last reviewed on 3 April 2008:

“Turkey was the second country to sign a European association agreement in 1963. This provided for the eventual establishment of an EC/Turkey Customs union, which finally came into effect on 1 January 1996. The agreement also provided for the possibility of ’Turkey’s eventual EC accession. Turkey formally applied for membership in 1987. The European Commission recommended against that application in 1989 because of the need for further political and economic reform in Turkey and the need for the existing Community to focus its energy on achieving the 1992 deadline for the completion of the Single Market. Nonetheless, the Commission confirmed ’Turkey’s eligibility for membership although ’Turkey’s political and economic instability, together with the Greek/Turkish disputes, made talk of EU membership unrealistic during most of the 1990s.” [4l]

3.10 The FCO 2008 Country profile also noted that:
“The 2004 December European Council agreed to open EU accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October 2005, endorsing the European Commission's view that Turkey had sufficiently fulfilled the Copenhagen political criteria. The negotiations opened as planned on 3 October. Turkey's Accession Partnership with the EU was agreed on 12 December and adopted on 23 December 2005. It sets out priorities for Turkey on meeting the Copenhagen criteria and the assistance that the EU will provide.” [4l]
3.11 The FCO 2008 Country profile further added that:
“Turkey’s deadline for implementation of the protocol is autumn 2009, and to this end, EU Foreign Ministers said they looked forward to speedy progress on these issues. After a turbulent year of parliamentary and presidential elections in 2007, the European Commission’s Annual Report for 2007 noted that Turkey urgently needs to renew its reform momentum. It further notes that more work needs to be done implementing legislation across many key areas including anti-corruption and judicial and agricultural reform, and details how Turkey needs to consolidate its work on the cultural and fundamental rights and freedoms of all groups in Turkey, including minority groups.” [4l]

3.12 The European Commission Turkey 2007 Progress Report recorded that “Turkey continued to make further progress in aligning its legislation with the acquis and EU practices in the area of justice, freedom and security, and the Turkish legislation is aligned to a certain extent with the EU acquis. Progress can be reported particularly in the areas of organised crime, drug trafficking and human trafficking. Considerable and sustained efforts are required in areas such as police cooperation and external borders. The same applies to migration and asylum, where there is a need to establish an asylum authority.” [71c]

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4 Recent Developments

Terrorism in 2007- 08
4.01 On the Institute for Police Studies website accessed 4 April 2008, Gokhan Aydiner the Governor Director General of the Turkish National Police noted in his book ‘Terrorism in the World and in Turkey’ that:
“The definition of the Turkish Anti Terrorism Law (law no.3713) defines terrorism as a kind of act done by one or more persons belonging to an organisation with the aim of changing the characteristics of the Republic as specified in the Constitution, its political, legal, social, secular and economic system, damaging the individual unity of the State and its terrority and nation, endangering the existence of the the Turkish State and Republic...” [65]
4.02 The EU Progress Report 2007 published 6 November 2007 noted that, “Turkey considers the failure to include a reference to terrorism in the Statute [of the International Criminal Court] as a serious omission, and pleads for this issue to be taken up at the Statute review conference in 2009. Turkey does not intend to sign the Statute before that date.” [71c] (p75)

4.03 Jane’s Sentinel website, updated 26 February 2008, noted that Kurdish separatists pose the greatest threat to ’Turkey’s internal stability. An escalation in PKK attacks in late 2007 has increased the pressure on Turkey to strike at the PKK's bases in northern Iraq. Starting in December 2007, the Turkish military responded by launching a series of air raids against PKK positions in northern Iraq. Through 2007 and early 2008, the Turkish security forces arrested 48 Turkish Islamists with alleged links to foreign militants on suspicion of planning major terrorist attacks inside Turkey. [81c] (Security)

4.04 The US State Department Country Report on Terrorism in Turkey 2007, released by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism on 30 April 2008, noted that:
“Domestic and transnational terrorist groups have targeted Turkish nationals and foreigners, including, on occasion, USG [United States Government] personnel, in Turkey, for more than 40 years. Terrorist groups that operated in Turkey included Kurdish separatist, Marxist-Leninist, radical Islamist, and pro Chechen groups. Terrorism in Turkey is defined in the Anti-Terror Law #3713 (TMK, 1991).” [5a] (p95)
4.05 The same USSD report on Terrorism in Turkey 2007 further noted that:
“Most prominent among terrorist groups in Turkey is the Kongra-Gel/Kurdistan Worker’s Party (KGK/PKK). Composed primarily of Kurds with a separatist agenda, the KGK/PKK operated from bases in northern Iraq and directed its forces to target mainly Turkish security forces… This persisted in 2007, when the KGK/PKK continued its terrorist tactics… the Turkish parliament on October 17 overwhelmingly passed a motion authorizing cross-border military operations against KGK/PKK targets in northern Iraq. Turkish forces carried out extensive operations along the Turkey-Iraq border in the latter part of the year.” [5a] (p96)
See also Section 19.37 PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel and the Conflict in the South-East

4.06 The BBC reported on 11 September 2007: “Police in Turkey's capital, Ankara, have prevented a large bomb from exploding, the city's governor said. Sniffer dogs detected a van stuffed with explosives in the centre of the city, preventing a ‘possible catastrophe’, Governor Kemal Onal said.” [66g] As reported by the BBC on 23 May 2007: “Turkish officials have confirmed that a suicide bomber caused a blast which killed six people and injured more than 90 in Ankara on Tuesday [23 May 2007]…The governor described the bomber as a known member of an illegal organisation, often code in Turkey for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK.” [66j] The Hurriyet News noted on 24 May 2007 that: “The young man confirmed through fingerprints taken from his body to have been the suicide bomber in Tuesday evening's attack in Ankara, 28 year old Guven Akkus, was apparently a member of the illegal Turkish Revolutionary Communists Union (TIKB).” [70a]

4.07 The Turkish Daily News reported on 14 September 2007:
“A foiled bomb plot: ‘Witnesses told police that the suspect had driven a mini-bus packed with explosives to a multi-storey car park in the city centre Monday, a day before sniffer dogs detected the vehicle and police defused the bomb, newspapers said. The suspect told the car park attendants that he had brought in goods to sell at a nearby market. Press reports said the van contained up to 600 kilogrammes of explosives which the attackers planned to set off through a mobile phone’.” [23j]
4.08 The EU 2007 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report noted that: “The rise of fundraising activities by the PKK in the EU is related to the escalation of the terrorist campaign of Kurdish terrorists in Turkey…The dismantling of the French branch of TKP/ML revealed that the organisation financed its terrorist activities in Turkey through criminal activities such as kidnapping, extortion and money laundering.” [43]
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5 Constitution
5.01 The website of the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Washington accessed on 4 August 2008 noted that:

“The Republic was declared on 29 October 1923. The [Lausanne Peace] Treaty Treaty provided the basis for the creation of the climate of peace and stability needed by the country. Turkey immediately embarked on a course of modernization and reform in all walks of life. Despite the fact that the liberation struggle had been waged against major European powers, she proceeded to establish good relations and cooperation with the West, and based her political and legal systems on modern, secular models. The goal as expressed by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the nationalist movement and first President of the Republic, was ‘to reach the level of contemporary civilization.’ And to achieve this aim, a doctrine for foreign relations was formulated that has held true to this day; in the words of Atatürk, ‘Peace at home, Peace in the world’.” [74a] (State and Policy)

5.02 The same Turkish Embassy website further noted that:
“Whilst the 1982 Constitution continued the basic structure of the 1961 Constitution, it nevertheless made significant changes in several areas. The Republican Senate was abolished in the 1982 Constitution. According to the Constitution, unconditional and unrestricted sovereignty is vested in the nation. The people exercise their sovereignty directly through elections, and indirectly through the authorized organs within the framework of the principles laid down in the Constitution.” [74b] (Constitution and Foundation)
5.03 The website of the Turkish Constitutional Law edited by Kemal Gözler translated by Erhan Yasar dated August 2006 stated that:
“In article 1-The Turkish State is a Republic. In article 2- The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social State governed by the rule of law. In article 7- Legislative power is vested in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on behalf of the Turkish Nation. In article 8- Executive power and function are exercised and carried out by the President of the Republic and the Council of Ministers in conformity with the Constitution and the laws. In article 10- All individuals are equal without any discrimination before the law, irrespective of language, race, color, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion and sect, or any such considerations.” [115]

5.04 The Turkish Grand National Assembly website noted in the updated version of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey the recent changes regarding the qualifications and impartiality of the President as reflected in Article 101 of the Constitution, which was amended on 31.05.2007 that:

“The President of the Republic shall be elected by the public from among the Turkish Grand National Assembly members who are over 40 years of age and have completed higher education or from among ordinary Turkish citizens who fulfill these requirements and are eligible to be deputies. The ’president’s term of office shall be five years. The President of the Republic can be elected to two terms at most. Nomination of a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic from among the members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly or from outside of the Assembly shall require a written proposal by 20 members of the Assembly.” [109]
See also Section 15:01 Freedom of Speech and Media
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6 Political System

The Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA)
6.01 “Turkey Interactive 2007”, prepared by the Turkish News Agency for the Office of the Prime Minister of Turkey noted that:

“According to Article 7 of the Constitution, legislative power is vested in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) on behalf of the Turkish Nation and this power cannot be delegated. The TGNA comprises 550 deputies designated in elections held every five years. The Parliament can decide to hold early elections, to postpone the elections for one year in case of war or to renew the elections before its five-year term is completed (early elections). The Parliament carries out its activities through commissions in accordance with the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure which are drawn up by the TGNA itself.” [36a] (p141-142) (Fundamental Bodies of the State)

6.02 The Turkish Grand National Assembly website accessed 4 August 2008 noted in the updated version of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey the recent changes regarding the Right to Vote, to be Elected and to Engage in Political Activity as reflected in Article 67 of the Constitution, which was amended on 31.05.2007 that:
“In conformity with the conditions set forth in the law, citizens have the right to vote, to be elected, and to engage in political activities independently or in a political party, and to take part in a referendum… However, the conditions under which the Turkish citizens who are abroad shall be able to exercise their right to vote, are regulated by law…All Turkish citizens over 18 years of age shall have the right to vote in elections and to take part in referenda. The exercise of these rights shall be regulated by law. Privates and corporals serving in the armed services, students in military schools, and convicts in penal execution excluding those convicted of negligent offences cannot vote.” [109]
National Security Council (MGK) or (NSC)
6.03 The website of the Secretariat General of the National Security Council accessed 4 August 2008 noted that:

“The National Security Council shall be composed of the Prime Minister, the Chief of the General Staff, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers of Justice, National Defence, Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs, the Commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Forces and the General Commander of the Gendarmerie, under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic. Depending on the agenda, related Ministers and persons may be invited to the meetings of the Council for their views. (As amended on 3.10.2001-4709/32) The National Security Council shall submit its advisory decisions about the formulation, determination and implementation of the national security policy of the State and its opinions about the maintenance of the necessary coordination, to the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers shall evaluate decisions of the National Security Council concerning the measures it deems necessary for the preservation of the existence and independence of the State, integrity of the country and peace and security of the society. The agenda of the National Security Council shall be determined by the President of the Republic taking into account the proposals of the Prime Minister and the Chief of the General Staff. In the absence of the President of the Republic, the National Security Council shall meet under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. The organisation and the duties of the Secretariat General of the National Security Council shall be regulated by the Law. No. 2945 of September 11, 1983.” [110] (Constitutional Situation)

6.04 The Secretariat General of the National Security Council website further noted that:
“In accordance with the article No.118 in the Constitution, the National Security Council was established. (Amended in the article No: 15th January, 2003-3789/1) The National Security Council, chaired by the President, consists of the Prime Minister, the Chief of General Staff, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Land Forces Commander, the Naval Forces Commander, the Air Forces Commander and General Commander of the Gendarmerie. The Secretary General of the National Security Council participates in the meetings however does not have the right to vote.” [110] (Law of the NSC and the Secretariat General of the NSC)
6.05 The Turkish Daily News on 1 December 2004, in “MGK opens Up”
“In line with the last few governments’ efforts to harmonize with the EU, the MGK was transformed to a more advisory body over the last few years. Included in the changes made to the council since 2001, is the increase in the number of council members in order to eliminate the majority previously held by military officers. Furthermore, on Oct. 3, 2001, an amendment replaced the inclusion, ‘The government needs to consider MGK decisions as a priority,’ with, ‘the government needs to consider MGK decisions.’ In August 2003, bi-monthly meetings replaced monthly meetings.” [23c]

6.06 The European Commission Turkey 2007 Progress Report published 6 November 2007, noted that:
“The National Security Council (NSC) continued to meet in line with its revised role. Ambassador Burcuoğlu was appointed as new Secretary-General in September. The total staff of the NSC decreased from 408 to 224, and the number of military personnel from 26 to 12. However, the armed forces continued to exercise significant political influence… The 1997 secret protocol on Security, Public Order and Assistance Units (commonly called EMASYA) remains in force. The protocol, signed by the General Staff and the Ministry of Interior, allows for military operations to be carried out for internal security matters under certain conditions without a request from the civilian authorities.” [71c] (p9)

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