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Turkey - Tips

Thu, 8 Jul 2010 00:41:49

Turkey Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
June 2007

Background Note: Turkey

Flag of Turkey is red with a vertical white crescent (the closed portion is
toward the hoist side) and white five-pointed star centered just outside the
crescent opening.


Republic of Turkey

Area: 780,580 sq. km.
Cities: Capital--Ankara (pop. 4.4 million). Other cities--Istanbul (11.8
million), Izmir (3.7 million), Bursa (2.4 million), Adana (1.9 million).
Terrain: Narrow coastal plain surrounds Anatolia, an inland plateau becomes
increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward. Turkey includes one of the
more earthquake-prone areas of the world.
Climate: Moderate in coastal areas, harsher temperatures inland.

Nationality: Noun--Turk(s). Adjective--Turkish.
Population (2006): 72.9 million.
Annual population growth rate (2004 est.): 1.33%.
Ethnic groups: Turkish, Kurdish, other.
Religions: Muslim 99%, Christian, Bahai, and Jewish.
Languages: Turkish (official), Kurdish, Zaza, Arabic, Armenian, Greek.
Education: Years compulsory--8. Attendance--97.6%. Literacy--86.5%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--39.4/1,000. Life expectancy--68.5 yrs.
Work force (23 million): Agriculture--35.6%; industry--17.5%;

Type: Republic.
Independence: October 29, 1923.
Constitution: November 7, 1982.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state), prime minister (head of
government), Council of Ministers (cabinet--appointed by the president on the
nomination of the prime minister). Legislative--Grand National Assembly (550
members) chosen by national elections at least every 5 years.
Judicial--Constitutional Court, Court of Cassation, Council of State, and
other courts.
Political parties in Parliament: Justice and Development Party (AK),
Republican People's Party (CHP), True Path Party (DYP), Motherland Party
(ANAVATAN) and Emerging Peoples' Party (HYP).
Suffrage: Universal, 18 and older.
National holiday: Republic Day, October 29.

GDP: (2004) $300.6 billion; (2005) $361.5 billion; (2006) $390.4 billion.
Annual real GDP growth rate: (2004) (+) 8.9%; (2005) 7.4%; (2006) 6.0%.
GDP per capita: (2004) $4,187; (2005) $5,016; (2006) $5,349.
Annual inflation rate /CPI: (2003) 18.4%; (2004) 9.3%; (2005) 7.7%; (2006)
Natural resources: Coal, chromium, mercury, copper, boron, oil, gold.
Agriculture (10.8% of GNP): Major cash crops--cotton, sugar beets, hazelnuts,
wheat, barley, and tobacco. Provides 26% of jobs and 4% of exports.
Industry (25.4% of GNP): Major growth sector, types--automotive, electronics,
food processing, textiles, basic metals, chemicals, and petrochemicals.
Provides 20% of jobs.
Trade: Exports (merchandise)--(2005) $73.1 billion; (2006) $83.5 billion:
textiles and apparel, industrial machinery, iron and steel, electronics,
petroleum products, and motor vehicles. Imports (merchandise)--(2005) $116
billion; (2006) 135.5 billion: petroleum, machinery, motor vehicles,
electronics, iron and steel, plastics precious metals. Major
partners--Germany, U.S., Italy, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, Netherlands,

Modern Turkey encompasses bustling cosmopolitan centers, pastoral farming
villages, barren wastelands, peaceful Aegean coastlines, and steep mountain
regions. More than half of Turkey's population lives in urban areas that
juxtapose Western lifestyles with more traditional ways of life.

The Turkish state has been officially secular since 1924. Approximately 99%
of the population is Muslim. Most Turkish Muslims follow the Sunni traditions
of Islam, although a significant number follow Alevi and Shiite traditions.
Questions regarding role of religion in society and government, the role of
linguistic and ethnic identity, and the public's expectation to live in
security dominate public discourse. Turkish citizens who assert a Kurdish
identity constitute an ethnic and linguistic group that is estimated at up to
12 million in number.

Mustafa Kemal, celebrated by the Turkish State as a Turkish World War I hero
and later known as "Ataturk" or "father of the Turks," led the founding of
the Republic of Turkey in 1923 after the collapse of the 600-year-old Ottoman
Empire and a three-year war of independence. The empire, which at its peak
controlled vast stretches of northern Africa, southeastern Europe, and
western Asia, had failed to keep pace with European social and technological
developments. The rise of national consciousness impelled several national
groups within the Empire to seek independence as nation-states, leading to
the empire's fragmentation. This process culminated in the disastrous Ottoman
participation in World War I as a German ally. Defeated, shorn of much of its
former territory, and partly occupied by forces of the victorious European
states, the Ottoman structure was repudiated by Turkish nationalists brought
together under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal. The nationalists expelled
invading Greek, Russian, French and Italian forces from Anatolia in a bitter
war. After the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey the temporal and
religious ruling institutions of the old empire (the sultanate and caliphate)
were abolished.

The leaders of the new republic concentrated on consolidating their power and
modernizing and Westernizing what had been the empire's core--Asian Anatolia
and a part of European Thrace. Social, political, linguistic, and economic
reforms and attitudes decreed by Ataturk from 1924-1934 continue to be
referred to as the ideological base of modern Turkey. In the post-Ataturk
era, and especially after the military coup of 1960, this ideology came to be
known as "Kemalism" and his reforms began to be referred to as "revolutions."
Kemalism comprises a Turkish form of secularism, strong nationalism, statism,
and to a degree a western orientation. The continued validity and
applicability of Kemalism are the subject of lively debate in Turkey's
political life. The current ruling AK Party comes from a tradition that
challenges many of the Kemalist precepts and is driven in its reform efforts
by a desire to achieve EU accession.

Turkey entered World War II on the Allied side until shortly before the war
ended, becoming a charter member of the United Nations. Difficulties faced by
Greece after World War II in quelling a communist rebellion and demands by
the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits prompted the
United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated
American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece and
resulted in large scale U.S. military and economic aid under the Marshall
Plan. After participating with United Nations forces in the Korean conflict,
Turkey in 1952 joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Turkey
is currently a European Union candidate.

The 1982 Constitution, drafted by the military in the wake of a 1980 military
coup, proclaims Turkey's system of government as democratic, secular, and
parliamentary. The presidency's powers are not precisely defined in practice,
and the president's influence depends on his personality and political
weight. The president and the Council of Ministers led by the prime minister
share executive powers. The president, who has broad powers of appointment
and supervision, is chosen by Parliament for a term of 7 years and cannot be
reelected. A constitutional amendment recommending the direct election by the
people of the president to a 5-year term, with the possibility of serving a
second 5-year term, may be submitted to a popular referendum in 2007. The
prime minister administers the government. The prime minister and the Council
of Ministers are responsible to Parliament.

The 550-member Parliament carries out legislative functions. Election is by
proportional representation. To participate in the distribution of seats, a
party must obtain at least 10% of the votes cast at the national level as
well as a percentage of votes in the contested district according to a
complex formula. The president enacts laws passed by Parliament within 15
days. With the exception of budgetary laws, the president may return a law to
the Parliament for reconsideration. If Parliament reenacts the law, it is
binding, although the president may then apply to the Constitutional Court
for a reversal of the law. Constitutional amendments pass with a 60% vote,
but require a popular referendum unless passed with a two-thirds majority;
the president may also submit amendments passed with a two-thirds majority to
a popular referendum.

The judiciary is declared to be independent, but the need for judicial reform
and confirmation of its independence are subjects of open debate.
Internationally recognized human rights, including freedom of thought,
expression, assembly, and travel, are officially enshrined in the
Constitution but have at times been narrowly interpreted, can be limited in
times of emergency and cannot be used to violate what the Constitution and
the courts consider the integrity of the state or to impose a system of
government based on religion, ethnicity, or the domination of one social
class. The Constitution prohibits torture or ill treatment; the current
government has focused on ensuring that practice matches principle. Labor
rights, including the right to strike, are recognized in the Constitution but
can be restricted.

The 1982 Constitution provides for a system of State Security Courts to deal
with offenses against the integrity of the state. The high court system
includes a Constitutional Court responsible for judicial review of
legislation, a Court of Cassation (or Supreme Court of Appeals), a Council of
State serving as the high administrative and appeals court, a Court of
Accounts, and a Military Court of Appeals. The High Council of Judges and
Prosecutors, appointed by the president, supervises the judiciary.

In the November 2002 election of Turkey's 58th government, the Justice and
Development Party (AK) captured 34.3% of the total votes, making Abdullah Gul
Prime Minister, followed by the Republican People's Party (CHP) with 19.39%
of the vote, led by Deniz Baykal. A special General Election was held again
in the province of Siirt in March 2003, resulting in the election of AK's
chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a seat in parliament, allowing him to become
prime minister. AK and CHP were the only parties to surpass the 10% threshold
required to hold seats in parliament. The elections resulted in 363 of the
550 seats going to AK, 178 seats to CHP, and 9 as independent. Due to a
reshuffle in party affiliation, AK holds 367 seats, CHP holds 175 seats, five
are independent, and three joined the True Path Party (DYP). In March 2004
nationwide local elections, AKP won 57 of 81 provincial capital
municipalities and, with 41.8% of the votes for provincial council seats,
consolidated its hold on power.

The Turkish Grand National Assembly was to have elected in May 2007 a new
president to succeed President Sezer on June 16. Opposition parties led a
challenge to the electoral procedures, which resulted in a series of proposed
constitutional amendments and the call for early general elections on July
22. The election of a president is expected after the new parliament has
assembled and formed a government.

Principal Government Officials
President of the Republic--Ahmet Necdet Sezer
Prime Minister--Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Abdullah Gul
Ambassador to the United States--Nabi Sensoy
Ambassador to the United Nations--Umit Pamir

Turkey maintains an embassy in the United States at 2525 Massachusetts Avenue
NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 612-6700. Consulates general in Chicago
(360 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1405, Chicago, IL 60601, tel: 312-263-0644, ext.
28); Los Angeles (4801 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 310, Los Angeles, CA 90010, tel:
323-937-0118); New York (821 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, tel:
212-949-0160); and Houston (1990 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 1300, Houston, TX
77056, tel: 713-622-5849). The Permanent Representative of Turkey to the
United Nations is located on 821 United Nations Plaza, 10th floor, New York,
NY 10017, tel: 212-949-0150.

Turkey is a large, middle-income country with relatively few natural
resources. Its economy is currently in transition from a high degree of
reliance on agriculture and heavy industrial economy to a more diversified
economy with an increasingly large and globalized services sector. Coming out
of a tradition of a state-directed economy that was relatively closed to the
outside world, Prime Minister and then President Turgut Ozal began to open up
the economy in the 1980s, leading to the signing of a Customs Union with the
European Union in 1995. In the 1990s, Turkey's economy suffered from a series
of coalition governments with weak economic policies, leading to
high-inflation boom-and-bust cycles that culminated in a severe banking and
economic crisis in 2001 and a deep economic downturn (GNP fell 9.5% in 2001)
and increase in unemployment.

Turkey's economy has recovered strongly from the 2001 thanks to good monetary
and fiscal policies and structural economic reforms made with the support of
the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The independence of the
Central Bank has been firmly established, a floating exchange rate system has
been put in place, and the government's overall budget deficit has been
substantially reduced. In addition, there have been substantial reforms in
the financial, energy, and telecommunications sectors that have included the
privatization of several large state-owned institutions.

Turkey's economy grew an average of 7.5% per year from 2002 through 2006--one
of the highest sustained rates of growth in the world. It is expected to grow
about 6.1% in 2007. Inflation and interest rates have fallen significantly,
the currency has stabilized, government debt has declined to more supportable
levels, and business and consumer confidence have returned. At the same time,
booming economic growth has contributed to a growing current account deficit.
Though Turkey's vulnerabilities have been greatly reduced, the economy could
still face problems in the event there is a sudden change in investor
sentiment that leads to a sharp fall in the exchange rate. Continued
implementation of reforms, including tight fiscal policy, is essential to
sustain growth and stability.

After years of low levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), in 2006, Turkey
succeeded in attracting $18.9 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) and
is expected to attract a similar level in 2007. A series of large
privatizations, the stability fostered by the start of Turkey's EU accession
negotiations, strong and stable growth, and structural changes in the
banking, retail, and telecommunications sectors have all contributed to the
rise in foreign investment. Turkey has taken steps to improve its investment
climate through administrative streamlining, an end to foreign investment
screening, and strengthened intellectual property legislation. However, a
number of disputes involving foreign investors in Turkey and certain
policies, such as high taxation and continuing gaps in the intellectual
property regime, inhibit investment. Turkey has a number of bilateral
investment and tax treaties, including with the United States, which
guarantee free repatriation of capital in convertible currencies and
eliminate double taxation.

EU Accession. Turkey's principal ongoing economic challenge is providing for
the needs of a fast-growing, young population. Raising living standards to
those prevalent in Europe will require high rates of GDP growth sustained
over many years. This will entail continued structural reforms that encourage
both domestic and foreign investment. Principal areas for reform identified
by international financial intuitions include increasing flexibility in the
labor market, making the educational sector more responsive to the needs of
the economy and ensuring faster and more predictable operation of the
judicial system. As an aspirant to membership in the European Union, Turkey
aims to adopt the EU's basic system of national law and regulation (the
acquis communautaire) by 2014. While implementing some elements of the acquis
will be costly and difficult (for example in the areas of environmental
protection and agriculture), its adoption will make a significant
contribution to modernizing the economy.

Energy. Installed electricity generation capacity in Turkey reached 35,600
megawatts (MW) as of 2004. Fossil fuels account for 71% of the total
installed capacity and hydro, geothermal, and wind account for the remaining
28%. The growth in electricity generation has remained below electricity
demand until recently, which has made Turkey a net importer of electricity
since 1997. The growth of energy demand slowed somewhat as a result of the
2001 economic crisis, but has picked up again. Turkish authorities expect a
significant electricity shortfall unless new facilities become operational.
The Government of Turkey took some important steps in 2001 to liberalize its
energy sector, including passage of the Electricity Market Law and
establishment of the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA). However, the
government has moved slowly to follow through on plans to liberalize and
privatize the electricity and natural gas sectors. In 2004, the High Planning
Council approved the Electricity Sector Reform Strategy to renew the reform

Oil provides about 43% of Turkey's total energy requirements; around 90% is
imported. Domestic production is mostly from small fields in the southeast.
New exploration is taking place in the eastern Black Sea. In 2004, the
Parliament approved a petroleum market reform bill that liberalized consumer
prices and would lead to the privatization of the state refining company
TUPRAS. TUPRAS was privatized in 2005, but this has been held up by court
cases still in process. Turkey has a refining capacity of 802,275 barrels per
day (b/d).

Turkey acts as an important link in the East-West Southern Energy Corridor
bringing Caspian, Central Asian, and Middle Eastern energy to Europe and
world markets. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which came online in July
2006, delivers 1 million b/d of petroleum, and in 2007, the South Caucasus
Pipeline (from Shah Deniz) is expected to bring natural gas from Azerbaijan
to Turkey. Turkey is building an interconnector pipeline to Greece, an
important step in bringing Caspian natural gas to Europe via Turkey.

Telecommunications. Parliament enacted legislation separating
telecommunications policy and regulatory functions in January 2000, by
establishing an independent regulatory body, the Telecommunication Authority.
The Authority is responsible for issuing licenses, supervising operators, and
taking necessary technical measures against violations of the rules. Most
regulatory functions of the Transport Ministry were transferred to the
Authority, and the regulator is slowly gaining competence and independence.
The long-expected privatization of the state-owned telecommunications company
was accomplished by the sale of 55% of Turk Telekom to the Saudi-owned Oger
Group in November 2005. With liberalization and growth in the economy, there
is growing competition for Internet provision, but Turk Telekom remains the
sole provider of ADSL wide band Internet.

Environment. With the establishment of the Environment Ministry in 1991,
Turkey began to make significant progress addressing its most pressing
environmental problems. The most dramatic improvements were significant
reductions of air pollution in Istanbul and Ankara. However, progress has
been slow on the remaining--and serious--environmental challenges facing

In 2003, the Ministry of Environment was merged with the Forestry Ministry.
With its goal to join the EU, Turkey has made commendable progress in
updating and modernizing its environmental legislation. However,
environmental concerns are not fully integrated into public decision-making
and enforcement can be weak. Turkey faces a backlog of environmental
problems, requiring enormous outlays for infrastructure. The most pressing
needs are for water treatment plants, wastewater treatment facilities, solid
waste management, and conservation of biodiversity. The discovery of a number
of chemical waste sites in 2006 has highlighted weakness in environmental law
and oversight.

Transport. The Turkish Government gives a special priority to major
infrastructure projects, especially in the transport sector. The government
is in the process of building new airports and highways, thanks to an
increased public investment budget. The government will realize many of these
projects by utilizing the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model.

Turkey's primary political, economic, and security ties are with the West,
although some voices call for a more "Eurasian" orientation.

Turkey entered NATO in 1952 and serves as the organization's vital eastern
anchor, controlling the straits leading from the Black Sea to the
Mediterranean and sharing a border with Syria, Iraq, and Iran. A NATO
headquarters is located in Izmir. Besides its relationships with NATO and the
EU, Turkey is a member of the OECD, the Council of Europe, and OSCE. Turkey
also is a member of the UN and the Islamic Conference Organization (OIC). In
December 1999, Turkey became a candidate for EU membership. On December 17,
2004, the EU decided to begin formal accession negotiations with Turkey in
October 2005.

Turkey and the EU formed a customs union beginning January 1, 1996. The
agreement covers industrial and processed agricultural goods. Turkey is
harmonizing its laws and regulations with EU standards. Turkey adopted the
EU's Common External Tariff regime, effectively lowering Turkey's tariffs for
third countries, including the United States.

On October 3, 2005, Turkey and the EU reached agreement for Turkey to begin
negotiations on accession to the European Union. Turkey and EU officials have
begun the process of screening Turkey's laws and policies in order to begin
negotiating the individual chapters required for ultimate EU accession.

Turkey opened and provisionally closed in 2006 one EU negotiating chapter on
science and technology. Another chapter on statistics was opened in February
2007, and two more are expected to be opened by July 1, 2007. Eight chapters,
mostly related to trade, were suspended by the European Council in December
2006 after Turkey declined to open its ports and airports to Cypriot
vessels--a commitment Turkey made as part of the Ankara Protocol and its EU
Customs Union membership.

Turkey is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It has signed free
trade agreements with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Israel, and
many other countries. In 1992 Turkey and 10 other regional nations formed the
Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Council to expand regional trade and
economic cooperation. Turkey chaired BSEC in 2007 and hosted in Istanbul the
15th BSEC Summit in June 2007.

U.S.-Turkish friendship dates to the late 18th century and was officially
sealed by a treaty in 1830. The present close relationship began with the
agreement of July 12, 1947, which implemented the Truman Doctrine. As part of
the cooperative effort to further Turkish economic and military
self-reliance, the United States has loaned and granted Turkey more than
$12.5 billion in economic aid and more than $14 billion in military

U.S.-Turkish relations focus on areas such as strategic energy cooperation,
trade and investment, security ties, regional stability, the global war on
terrorism, and human rights progress. Relations were strained when Turkey
refused in March 2003 to allow U.S. troops to deploy through its territory to
Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but regained momentum steadily thereafter
and mutual interests remain strong across a wide spectrum of issues.

The U.S. and Turkey have had a Joint Economic Commission and a Trade and
Investment Framework Agreement, which last met in Washington in April 2007,
for several years. In 2002, the two countries indicated their joint intent to
upgrade bilateral economic relations by launching an Economic Partnership
Commission, which last convened in Ankara in February 2007. In 2006, Turkish
exports to the U.S. totaled about $5.4 billion, and U.S. exports to Turkey
totaled $5.7 billion.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Ross Wilson
Deputy Chief of Mission--Nancy McEldowney

Political Affairs--Janice G. Weiner
Political-Military Affairs--Carl Siebentritt
Economic Affairs--Dale Eppler
Regional Affairs--Thaddeus W. Troy
Consular Affairs--Sandra Shipshock
Management Affairs--Gerri H. O'Brien
Public Affairs--Daniel Sreebny
Agricultural Affairs--Ralph Gifford
Commercial Affairs--James Fluker
Defense Attache--Col. Charles Schneider
Navy Attache--CDR David Renberg
Army Attache--(vacant)

The U.S. Embassy is located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, Kavaklidere, Ankara
06100, tel: (90) (312) 455-5555.

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
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