The largest information technology (IT) complex in Turkey, dubbed Teknopark Istanbul, is set to open next year on the Asian side of the country’s economic capitol Istanbul.
Supported by Turkey’s powerful Undersecretariat of Defence Industries (SSM) and Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO), the humongous 2.5 million square meter complex will host over 1,000 companies and research institutes operating in the information technology, advanced electronics, software, sensors, data security and related fields.
Teknopark Istanbul will create over 30,000 jobs for Turkey’s most qualified people in the information technology industry, and eventually generate an annual revenue of $7 billion, following a planned 15-year exponsion period with a net cost of $2 billion.
7 of Turkey’s select universities have already signed up to cooperate with the complex with anohter 44 from around the world waiting in line for the openning in 2012.
Teknopark Istanbul is expected to be at the forefront of technological development in Turkey and function as the country’s ‘silicon valley’, providing cutting edge solutions to Turkey’s growing industrial needs.
The Turkish defence sector has followed a path of steady but significant growth since 1985, the year of the foundation of the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), Turkey’s defence procurement agency. Established with the aim of modernising the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and nurturing the growth of a national defence sector, the SSM has successfully developed policies and carried out programmes to this end since its foundation.
Prior to the 1990s Turkey’s defence procurement model was based mainly on direct procurement (off-the-shelf purchases), however as a result of the SSM’s efforts and policies in support of local industries, the procurement model of Turkey underwent a gradual but significant change throughout the 1990s to co-production, and finally during the last decade to local production (i.e., developing its own designs) and system integration. Thanks to policies in support of local industries the number of Turkish companies operating in the defence sector has also witnessed a marked increase, especially since 2000.
In parallel to the development of the defence sector, the workforce of in Turkey’s defence companies is also increasing steadily, and every year more and more young and talented people are joining the pool. According to Defence Industrial Manufacturers Association (SaSaD) figures, as of November 2010 there were 718 (+ around 1,000 sub-industry companies) public corporations (military factories and government controlled companies), private companies and foreign partnerships in the country, employing some 41,000 staff (including 10,978 engineers and 6,689 technicians).
SaSaD’s Defence Industry Sector Report Figures
According to the Defence Industry Sector Report prepared by SaSaD through the evaluation of figures obtained from its member companies (SaSaD currently has 120 defence companies under its umbrella) and issued in April 2011, the Turkish defence sector achieved a US$2.7 Billion (TL4.1 Billion) turnover in 2010 (representing a 18% increase from 2009 in US$ figures). This figure covers only direct sales to TAF and other armed forces around the world, and does not include indirect sales by contractors. In 2009, revenue from the Turkish defence sector was US$2.3 Billion (TL 3.6 Billion), of which some 27% has been realised in the defence electronics sector; the aerospace sector and the weapons, ammunition, rocket and missile sector realising 18% each; 13% in the naval platforms sector, 12% in the land platforms sector and 12% from other defence-related activities.
Although the Turkish defence sector saw an 18% increase in revenues in US$ figures due to global financial crises, defence sales have decreased by 5% from 2009 (US$669 Million down to US$634 Million). However, since civil aviation exports achieved a 35% increase in 2010 and reached US$219 Million (US$169 Million in 2009) Turkey’s defence and aerospace sales in total witnessed a 16% increase in 2010 (US$732 Million in 2009). Breaking down the export figures, 31% was realised by the aerospace sector, 19% by the weapons, ammunition, rocket and missile sector, 19% by the land platforms sector, 13% by the defence electronics sector, 6% by the naval platforms sector, and 11% from other defence-related exports. According to SaSaD’s survey, the United States is the recipient of the majority (36%) of Turkish defence exports, followed by the Europe (26%), Middle East (19%), Far East (13%), Africa (4%) and South America (1%). According to the Ministry of National Defence (MoND), the share of domestic procurements has increased from 45.7% (in 2009) to an average of 52.1% in 2010. As indicated in the 2007–2011 Strategic Plan prepared by the SSM, defence and aviation exports should increased to US$1 Billion in 2011. The SSM has also targeted an increase in turnover per employee in the defence sector to US$250,000. All estimates show that the Turkish defence sector has grown further in 2010 and should achieve 2011 targets without any problem. In its 2011–2016 Strategic Plan the SSM has a target of increasing the existing defence export figure to US$2 billion by 2016.
Importance of R&D in the Expansion of the Indigenous Defence Product Portfolio
As a result of the efforts and policies implemented by the SSM, the last decade witnessed a dramatic transformation in Turkey’s approach to the modernisation of its armed forces and its domestic defence industrial capabilities, with R&D projects playing a crucial role in the rapid growth of the Turkish defence sector. The Turkish defence industry product portfolio currently contains over 250 different products and systems, mostly designed, developed and produced by Turkish companies through R&D programmes, and mainly funded by the MoND/SSM and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TüBiTAK). In order to reduce the defence sector’s external dependence on critical subsystems, components and technologies determined in line with the requirements of TAF, the SSM and MoND have allocated considerable financial resources (about US$50 million annually) for technology-intensive R&D activities to improve the country’s technological infrastructure. For this purpose the SSM has prepared and issued a Defence R&D Road Map for the optimisation of allocated resources and has determined and prioritised R&D projects in line with the needs and objectives of the main system projects that will involve collaborations among industries, universities and research organisations.
In line with a decision of the Supreme Council of Science and Technology to gradually increase the R&D/GNP ratio to the EU level of 2% by the end of 2013, significant funds from the national budget have been allocated to R&D activities, starting in 2005, to be used in coordination with TüBiTAK. R&D projects being realised with the aid of these funds help in the production and accumulation of technology, and consequently increasing the ratio of locally produced equipment to satisfy TAF’s needs. According to Undersecretary Murad BAYAR, as of June 2010 the total value of ongoing TüBiTAK-funded Defence and Aerospace R&D projects is US$ 242 million, and the total value of the 19 TüBiTAK R&D projects that have already been funded is US$157 million. The total value of DISF-funded defence R&D projects is US$ 85 million. MoND M. Vecdi GÖNÜLhas disclosed that during last two years 15 defence related R&D projects have been completed and currently a total of 77 R&D projects are being carried out. According to SaSaD’s 2010 Defence Industry Sector Report, in 2010 Turkish defence industries allocated a total of US$666 Million for their R&D programmes, US$113 Million of which was met from their own resources. Prof. Mehmet AYDIN, Turkish Minister of State in charge of Science, Technology and Information (also covering TüBiTAK), says that the Security Technologies Research Group (SAVTAG) of TüBiTAK had so far provided a total of TL561 million (around US$370 million) to support 47 R&D projects in the field of defence, and that 16 of them had already been completed, with the products entering into the service of TAF.
SSM Runs Defence Projects Valued at US$54 Billion
Accepted by many authorities as an emerging force in the global defence sector, Turkish defence industries have developed with remarkable progress in many areas over last decade, and Turkey is steadily increasing its efforts to become a self-reliant power when it comes to meeting the defence systems requirements of TAF. Today, Turkish defence industries are aiming to increase the existing defence export figure to US$ 1 billion in 2011 and US$ 2 billion by 2016, and are mature enough to meet most of the requirements of TAF, as well as those of its allies and friendly nations. Alongside R&D projects, the SSM is currently working on over 250 defence projects in the land, air, sea, electronic and rocket/missile areas. According to MoND M. Vecdi GÖNÜL the total value of defence projects that have already been contracted, most of which are about to be completed, is US$28 billion, while the total value of SSM projects, including those launched in recent months and the F-35 Lightning II JSF stands at over US$52 billion. Undersecretary Murad BAYAR has stated that 24% of the ongoing contracted defence projects are being realised domestically, 57% under joint production, 10% under direct procurement and 9% under consortium project models.
The Role of Offsets in Turkish Defence and Aerospace Exports
Two decades ago Turkey relied heavily on imports to satisfy its defence procurement needs, but over the last decade the Turkish defence sector has rapidly developed local capabilities to become a prime exporter as well. Turkish defence sector companies are now in a position to compete in international defence markets and have an impressive track record in orders from abroad for their state-of-the-art, NATO-standard and cost-effective products. The SSM has been able to sell internationally many of the Turkish defence sector developed and produced to meet TAF’s requirements.
Within the scope of defence projects, the transactions that will be executed to use the production potential and capabilities of local industry, to increase the competitiveness of the local industry in the international markets and to provide technological cooperation, investment and R&D opportunities, are defined as Industrial Participation/Offset. According to SSM documents, in 2009 58.4% of civil aviation exports and 41.3% of defence exports were generated under the offset obligations of foreign contractors. The share of offsets in civil aviation exports has been decreasing gradually since 2006, from 94.7% in 2006, 93.8% in 2007 and 60.7% in 2008, according to SSM figures. On the other hand, the share of offsets has been increasing in defence exports, up from 37% in 2006 to 45% in 2007 and 38.8% in 2008. According to the SSM figures (disclosed in October 2010) the total value of defence and aerospace exports so far generated under offset obligations is US$ 3 billion.
The recently announced figures show that foreign contractors have undertaken a total of US$13.3 Billion in offset commitments (covering both direct and indirect offsets) in projects executed between 1985 and 2010, of which US$5.3 Billion had been realised by the end of 2010. Further, there have been around US$8 billion-worth of offset credits for use only in the defence and aerospace fields. Offsets are one of the instruments used by the SSM to establish long-term and permanent cooperations between Turkish and foreign defence industry companies.
The Role of DISF in Turkish Defence Procurement
The majority of the SSM budget is being met from sources transferred from the Defence Industry Support Fund (DISF), which is totally independent from the MoND budget and is one of the most important financial resources for TAF projects. The DISF figures for 2010 have been recently disclosed by MoND M. Vecdi GÖNÜL, who states that during 2010, for the funding of defence projects carried out by the SSM, a total of US$1.8 Billion had been transferred from the DISF and over US$674 Million from the MoND budget. According to GÖNÜL, the DISF achieved US$138 Million in revenues in 2010 and has a total of US$3.96 Billion worth of assets from the Treasury.
New Export Strategy and Defence Industry Cooperation Offices
Since its foundation, one of the SSM’s goals has been to increase the levels of Turkey’s arms exports so as to raise its arms industrial base to a higher level. For the last four years, Turkey’s defence and aerospace exports have shown a continuous increase. According to SSM figures, the Turkish defence sector’s defence and aerospace exports totalled US$ 486.9 million in 2006, US$ 615.4 million in 2007, US$ 783.9 million in 2008 and US$ 830.8 Million in 2009. In parallel to the development of the Turkish defence sector and the expansion of the exportable indigenous product portfolio, starting from 2008 the SSM has revised its export strategy and taken new steps to boost exports and the performance of the local companies in international tenders. As part of its new export strategy the SSM has decided to open Defence Industry Cooperation Offices in the Middle East, North Africa, the Far East, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and South America, which have been selected as priority target areas for the export of Turkish defence products, to follow ongoing local defence tenders and inform relevant Turkish defence companies, and to act as a liaison office, arranging contacts between local authorities and Turkish companies. The SSM opened the first Defence Industry Cooperation Office in the United States in October 2010 inWashington DC; while the second office opened on 1 March, 2011 in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. During a Turkey-Saudi Arabia Industry Day event, held March 1–4, the official opening ceremony was attended by MoND Vecdi GÖNÜL, Undersecretary Murad BAYAR, Turkish Armed Forces Foundation (TAFF) General Manager Lt. Gen. (Ret) Hayrettin UZUN and representatives from Turkish defence companies. The SSM has a plan to open similar offices also in Qatar (to follow the Middle East market), Malaysia/Indonesia (to follow the Far East market), Azerbaijan/Kazakhstan (to follow the Caucasian and Central Asian markets) and Brussels (to follow European and NATO-related projects) in the coming months.
The SSM attaches great importance to international cooperation and supports the participation of Turkish companies in joint or international procurement programmes. As a specialised department of the SSM, the International Cooperation Department (ICD) acts on behalf of the Undersecretariat in to boost collaborations in defence procurement programmes and industrial networking activities. As part of its strategy to encourage the Turkish defence sector to establish joint ventures and partnerships with foreign companies, the ICD has been organising numerous company visits for foreign delegations at all levels from many nations, and arranging government-to-government workshops to look at opportunities for cooperation between Turkish and foreign industries.
In this context, in cooperation with the UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO), SSM ICD organised a Turkish Naval Industry Inward Mission on 7–11 February, 2011 to explore opportunities for cooperation in the naval sector between Turkey and the United Kingdom. With attendance by representatives of companies located in Portsmouth, Bristol and London, the Turkish Naval Inward Mission event was attended by the SSM, Turkish Naval Forces Command, MoND and 17 representatives of Turkish defence and naval companies. On 10 February, UKTI DSO hosted a conference in London attended by 38 UK companies, including 23 SMEs. During Prime Minister David CAMERON’s visit to Ankara in July last year a Strategic Partnership Agreement, aiming to boost bilateral trade and defence was signed between the UK and Turkey. On March 1–4, in cooperation with SaSaD, the ICD organised a “Turkey-Saudi Arabia Industry Day” event at the Riyadh Radisson Hotel with the participation ofMoND GÖNÜL, Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Industry Minister Dr. Abdullah Ahmed Zainal RIZA, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khaled Bin SULTAN, Undersecretary BAYAR and other high ranking officials from MoND and the SSM, as well as 58 representatives from 34 Turkish defence sector companies. In the course of the event, the capabilities and solutions of the Turkish defence companies were displayed in an exhibition hall at the Riyadh Radisson Hotel Convention Centre. During bilateral meetings, the parties expressed their willingness to go beyond the sale of of-the-shelf products and to establish joint ventures, and to cooperate in co-production and co-design programmes.
LAND PLATFORMS SECTOR
Turkish defence companies are prominent in the manufacture of wheeled and tracked armoured vehicles, and are seeking new businesses that will double their current export figures, with the Middle East, Far East, Africa and Central Asia identified as privileged markets for locally produced armoured vehicles. The land platforms sector is the most successful in the Turkish defence market in terms of exports. Realising 12% of the turnover and 19% of the total defence exports in 2010. Turkey has traditionally looked to domestic suppliers to meet TAF’s land platforms requirements, enabling the sector to develop a comprehensive range of products that includes tactical wheeled vehicles (4×4, 6×6 and 6×4), tactical wheeled armoured vehicles (4×4, 6×6 and 8×8), armoured reconnaissance vehicles (tracked and wheeled), armoured internal security vehicles, mine-protected vehicles, a mobile floating assault bridge, riot control vehicles, an amphibious armoured combat earthmover, armoured combat vehicles and the ALTAY Main Battle Tank (MBT), as well as modernisation and upgrade solutions for APCs, ACVs and MBTs.
The backbone of the Turkish land platforms sector is formed by private companies such as Otokar, BMC, Nurol Makina and Hema Industries, as well as FNSS (a private company with a foreign partner), which also undertakes the lion’s share in turnover and exports. Military factories operated by the Turkish Land Forces, such as 1st Main Maintenance Centre in Adapazarı and the 2nd Main Maintenance Centre Command in Kayseri, are mainly taking a role in Main Battle Tank Modernisation projects such as the Leopard 1T and M60T programmes, and providing maintenance services for the tracked and wheeled vehicles in the service of the Turkish Land Forces (TLF).
The total value of the export contracts secured by leading companies FNSS and Otokar during last 6 months are valued at around US$ 1 billion, including a US$324 million M113 modernisation contract (to upgrade aging M113 vehicles into the M113A4/ACV350 APC configuration) signed between FNSS and Saudi Arabia in November 2010, and a US$600 million contract signed on February 22, 2011 between FNSS and DEFTECH of Malaysia at the FNSS facilities in Ankara for the design, development, production and logistical support of 257 wheeled armoured combat vehicles, to be based on the PARS 8×8 configuration, for the Malaysian Land Forces. Otokar, on the other hand, received a US$10.6 million contract from an undisclosed Gulf country in December 2010 for the delivery of an undisclosed number of ARMA 6×6 tactical armoured vehicles, to be armed with a 20mm cannon. Otokar also finalised its export sale negotiations with Azerbaijan in December and signed a US$30 million contract for the delivery of an undisclosed number of Cobra 4×4 wheeled armoured vehicles in four different configurations, includingWeapon Platform Vehicles, 4×4 Armoured Patrol Vehicles (APV) in ambulance and personnel carrier configurations and tactical vehicles in various configurations, including field workshop vehicles. The company has also secured a new export contract valued at US$9.3 million from an undisclosed country in early April 2011 for the delivery of an undisclosed number of 4×4 Armoured Patrol Vehicles (APV).
NAVAL PLATFORMS SECTOR
Having a strong heritage of ship building back in the days of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey has been moving ahead with ambitious plans to develop its domestic naval industrial capabilities. The country has already built up a capability for naval construction in the state-owned naval shipyards, starting in the 1970s, and the Turkish military shipbuilding sector is now offering diverse solutions at system and subsystem levels to meet the operational requirements of the Turkish Navy and Coast Guard. Over the last decade the Turkish naval ship building sector has achieved considerable success and is now ready to compete in the international markets with its indigenous solutions such as MilGem, New Type Patrol Boat, LCT and MRTP Series Fast Intervention Boats. As a significant example of the successful cooperation and interaction between the Turkish Navy and Turkish defence industries, the MilGem (National Ship) Project represents a milestone in the development of Turkey’s indigenous capability to design, build and integrate naval vessels.
In parallel with the SSM’s efforts to restructure the Turkish naval sector by combining the existing know-how and expertise of the naval shipyards and the Turkish Navy with the capabilities and competency of the commercial private ship building sector, the country’s private shipyards are becoming more and more prominent. During the last couple of years the total value of contracts awarded to local private sector shipyards is about US$ 2 billion. Dearsan Shipyard, for example, received a Euro402 million contract for the construction of 16 New Type Patrol Boats (NTPBs) for the Turkish Navy; ADIK Shipyard secured a Euro 99.7 million contract to deliver eight Landing Craft Tank (LCT) vessels; RMK Marine Shipyard received a Euro352.5 million contract for the delivery of four corvette-size Coast Guard Search and Rescue (SAR)/Patrol vessels; Istanbul Shipyard received a Euro18.52 Million contract for the modernisation of four SAR-35 Class Coast Guard boats; and Yonca Onuk was awarded a Euro8.67 million contract to construct two (+two optional) SAT Boats for the Turkish Navy. Private sector shipyards will also take part in the ongoing multi-billion dollar major surface warship programmes, including those for the Landing Ship Tank (LST) (for the construction of two 7.125 tonne displacement vessels ADIK Shipyard has been selected, and contract negotiations are ongoing);, Landing Platform Dock (LPD), Mo-Ship/RaTShip (Istanbul Shipyard has been selected, and contract negotiations are ongoing), Fleet Replenishment Ship, Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), TF-2000 Air Defence Destroyer, TF-100 Multi-role Frigate, Turkish Type Assault Boats and Mine Hunting Vessels. Golcuk Naval Shipyard is and will remain as Turkey’s only shipyard with submarine construction capabilities, as the SSM does not envisage the transition of that particular expertise into private sector shipyards.
Starting in 2012, Golcuk Naval Shipyard will construct six Type 214TN Class AIP submarines and to carry out the modernisation of two Type 209 Class diesel-electric submarines (TCG Doğanay [S-351] and TCG Dolunay [S-352]) in TNF service. According to Serdar DEMIREL, Head of the Naval Platforms Department of the SSM, the Turkish naval sector amassed close to US$ 500 Million during the last period and the total contract volume of the 14 ongoing platform programmes soon with the signing of a formal contract. The total value of the sale is expected to be in the region of US$ 120 million.
The first vessels in the MilGem, NTPB, LCT and CG SAR/Patrol Vessel programmes, namely TCG Heybeliada (F-511), P1200 Tuzla, Ç-151 and TCSG Dost (701), have made their first appearance at the IDEF‘11 Exhibition in May.
Realizing 18% of the revenue and 31% of the total defence exports in 2010, the aerospace sector is the second largest contributor in the Turkish defence sector, having realized US$219 Million worth of civil aviation exports in 2010. Taking into consideration the global economic contraction in 2009 due to the financial crisis, it is impressive that the sector has seen renewed growth in 2010. Civil aviation sales and exports in the Turkish aerospace sector are expected to increase in 2011. The backbone of the Turkish Aerospace Sector is formed by state-owned (TAFF) companies TAI and TEI, which also contribute the lion’s share in turnover and export figures. According to figures disclosed by the companies, in 2010 TAI realised US$572 million revenues (with US$90 million operating profit) and US$ 220 million export sales, whereas TEI realised US$275 million worth of sales, of which US$155 million was from exports. However, opportunities are also emerging for private companies such as Alp Aviation (a joint venture between the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and the Alpata Group of Turkey), KaleKalıp/Kale Aero, Baykar Makina and Vestel Defence Industry. Military factories of the Turkish Air Force (TuAF), such as 1st Air Supply and Maintenance Centre Command in Eskisehir, and 2nd Air Supply and Maintenance Centre Command in Kayseri are mainly taking roles in modernisation projects such as the F-16C/D, F-4E 2020, F-5 2000, F-4E/TM (SIMSEK), RF-4E/TM (ISIK), T-38M (ARI) and C-130B/E (ERCIYES) programmes, and is providing maintenance/overhaul services to the fighter/bomber and transport aircraft. On the other hand, 3rd Air Supply and Maintenance Command, located in Ankara, provides maintenance, repair and overhaul services to avionics and the land-based radar and missile systems in TuAF’s service.
The initiative to establish an aerospace industry in Turkey is almost as old as the Republic itself, however these initiatives have had limited success in the past. Many authorities accept that the foundation of TAI in May 1984 to manufacture and assemble F-16C/D aircraft in Turkey and TEI in December 1984, to manufacture and assemble General Electric F-110-GE-100/129 jet engines, was an important milestone in the development of Turkey’s indigenous capability to design, build and integrate military aircraft and engines. TAI and TEI have developed their capabilities over the years, and have now begun participating in international military and civilian aerospace projects as well as their respective engine programmes, including F-35 JSF, F136, A400M, TP400, Boeing 747-8, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, GEnx and Airbus A350 XWB. TEI now carries out parts production and the assembly of jet engines for military aircraft operated by TAF and NATO, working in collaboration with the TuAF’s Air Supply and Maintenance Centres. Aiming to be an OEM-approved MRO centre for F110 engines with the support of its partner and shareholder General Electric, TEI is currently focusing on the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of F110 engines in the regional countries. In this context, the company follows closely the regional F110 engine users and is in negotiation with several of them, including Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
TAI currently performs modernisation, modification and systems integration programmes and after sales support of both the fixed- and rotary-wing military and commercial aircraft in the inventory of Turkey and its friendly countries. In this context, TAI has been selected as the Prime Contractor for the avionic modernisation programmes of the C-130B/E transport aircraft (dubbed ERCIYES) and the T-38M jet training aircraft (dubbed ARI) in the inventory of TuAF. The major modernisation programmes include the Glass Cockpit modification of the Turkish Black Hawk helicopters; the electronic warfare retrofit and structural modifications to TuAF’s F-16s; Falcon Star and Mid-Life Upgrade modifications of the F-16s in the inventory of the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) and the Pakistani Air Force (PAF); the structural modification of CN-235 platforms for MPA/MSA missions for the Turkish Navy and Coast Guard; the structural modification ofATR-72 platforms for the Turkish Navy; as well as structural modification and systems integration activities required for the conversion of B737-700 aircraft into AEW&C aircraft. The company also participates as a partner in the global-scale F-35 andA400M design and development programmes. In this context TAI has been selected by Northrop Grumman as a second source for the manufacture of Air Inlet Ducts and Centre Fuselages for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft. Under the programme TAI will manufacture 400 complete Centre Fuselages in Turkey, while deliveries of the TAI-produced Air Inlet Ducts have been launched in March 2011 and the Centre Fuselages are scheduled to begin in 2013 as part the F-35’s LRIP-5 phase. Aside from TAI and TEI, the Alp Aviation and KaleKalıp/Kale Aero companies are also taking part in F-35 programme, producing parts for both the aircraft and the F135 engine. Being a shareholder in Airbus Military SL as the National Industrial Institution, TAI has been participating in the design and development activities of the A400M with leading European aerospace companies. Under the A400M programme, TAI is delivering the Forward Centre Fuselage of the aircraft and has completed delivery of first of three units, and shipped them to the assembly line in Bremen onboard an Airbus Beluga aircraft in January.
The Turkish aviation sector has achieved remarkable progress, especially in the last decade, and as Turkey’s top decision making body on defence industrial procurement, the Defence Industry Executive Committee (DIEC), believing that the company is mature enough to develop an indigenous fighter and trainer aircraft, tasked the SSM in December 2010 with opening negotiations with TAI for the indigenous development of an new generation fighter/interceptor (T-X) with stealth features and state-of-the-art avionics to replace TuAF’s existing F-4Es and F-16 Block 30 aircraft, and a jet trainer (T-X) to replace the existing T-38 and F-5 2000 aircraft by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Under the T-X and F-X Programmes, TAI will be awarded a contract by SSM in the coming days for the Conceptual Development Phase. TAI has also been tasked by DIEC to develop an indigenous avionic suit solution for the F-16C/D Block 30 aircraft in the inventory of TuAF, which will include locally developed Mission Computers, OFP software and avionics. In this context, TuAF will be sending one F-16 Block 30 aircraft to TAI during next few months, on which TAI will perform the modifications as a prototype. The first flight is scheduled for 2014, and delivery in 2015. If the prototype passes the tests then TAI will perform, in cooperation with 1st ASMC, the modernisation of the remaining 36 Block 30 F-16s by 2019. Along with these recently launched programmes, TAI, as a Prime Contractor, is also developing the Anka (Phoenix) MALE UAV, a Turkish Light Utility Helicopter, the GökTürk II EO Satellite, the Simsek (Lightning) Jet-Powered Target Drone and the Sivrisinek (Mosquito) Rotary Wing UAV. The company is also carrying out the local production and system integration of T129 attack helicopters for the Turkish Land Forces under an AgustaWestland license. TAI will also perform parts manufacturing and assembly of 109 T70 Black Hawk (Sikorsky Aircraft), an 8-tonne, twin-engine medium class utility helicopter, selected under the US$3.5 Billion valued Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme in April 2011. The total number of the helicopters to be manufactured/assembled at TAI facilities are expected to reach 600 during the next 20 years.
According to SSM figures, the Fixed Wing Aircraft Department and the Helicopter Department have been working on 35 projects, including 11 helicopter projects, valued at over US$ 30 billion, covering both domestic and foreign procurements. According to SSM figures, the total value of the currently contracted 31 air platform projects, including large-scale helicopter programmes such as the T129 Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance, CH-47F Chinook Heavy Lift and S-70B SeaHawk Naval Helicopter projects, is around TL 19.3 billion (around US$13 Billion, and excluding TUHP project cost). The SSM is expected to finalise the ongoing multi-billion dollar fixed- and rotary-wing air platform projects in the coming years, including the F-35A Lightning II (expected to cost around US$ 16 Billion) programme.
The fundamental transformation of Turkish-Russian relations over the last two decades from being former Cold War foes to being strategic partners is quite a leap forward for students of international politics. The growing partnership between Turkey under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s government in Russia reached a peak, especially in economic interests, with the lifting of visa requirements for the nationals of both countries.
Turkey and Russia see eye-to-eye on most regional issues, albeit with some differences on how to handle them. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, both countries do not want the EU taking charge to solve outstanding issues in this very fragile country without the involvement of either Russia or Turkey. Bosnian Muslims feel more comfortable with Turkey engaged in the process while Russian involvement would cut back the uneasiness felt by Bosnian Serbs. On the Syrian front, both countries want no interference from outside powers either.
The ambassador of the Russian Federation to Turkey, Vladimir Ivanovskiy, with whom I spoke earlier this month, shares this conclusion. He even admits that the progress of bilateral relations has exceeded his expectations. The veteran diplomat sounded upbeat when it comes to the future relations of the two countries. “When I report to my leadership on Russia and Turkey, I always say that in 10 to 15 years, I see more issues that will bring the two countries further together,” he said, stressing that Russia strongly shares this view.
In view of these developments, I think the time has come for Russia to act on the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has claimed the lives of 30,000 people over the last three decades. It looks awkward for Russia to drag its feet in recognizing the PKK as a terrorist organization while both the US and the EU label the vicious organization a “terrorist group.” Turkey has raised the PKK issue on bilateral talks with Russia in the past but failed to secure a strong commitment from Moscow. The thorny issue needs to be dealt with and thereby taken off the agenda of Turkish and Russian officials.
US Ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone has been successfully exploiting the cooperation between Washington and Ankara on PKK terrorism, appearing in the press with talking points specifically targeting Turkish public opinion. He said last week that Turkey and the US were cooperating in diplomacy, law and intelligence to combat PKK terrorism and called on third countries to put pressure on the terrorist organization. Russia might want to take a hint from Ricciardone’s call on the “third countries” to take a tougher stance against the PKK.
Ricciardone underlined that the US has incurred around $400 million in annual costs, or about $1 million a day, assisting Turkey to help fight terrorism. The US ambassador noted that the US has designated five leaders of the outlawed PKK as drug traffickers, adding them to a sanctions list that already covers the terrorist group more generally. The US Department of the Treasury announced in April that Cemil Bayık, Duran Kalkan, Remzi Kartal, Sabri Ok and Adem Uzun were named “specially designated narcotics traffickers” pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.
As PKK terrorism threatens the economic cooperation between Turkey and Russia, especially on energy cooperation, Moscow may want to reconsider its position with regard to the terrorist organization. The PKK has in the past sabotaged not only the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, which carries Azerbaijani crude oil to Western markets, but the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which carries Iraqi crude to the West as well. It will pose a threat to the proposed Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline, which will carry Russian and Kazakh oil from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean oil terminal in Ceyhan. Alarmed by the treat, Russia has already proposed to Turkey a special security team to eliminate threats along this route.
At this stage, the proposal forwarded to his Russian counterpart by Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek, who went to St. Petersburg to attend the 12th Ministerial Session of the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Agreement in September 2010, becomes very important. This might pave the way for a candid debate on the challenges PKK terrorism brings to Turkish-Russian relations.
Intelligence reports indicate some 80 percent of the arms the PKK uses are made in Russia. General Staff data confirm the majority of weapons seized from PKK terrorists or from their bases was of Russian origin. Russia is by far the largest source of sniper rifles used by the PKK as well as in the supply of anti-tank mines and rocket launchers. Eighty-eight percent of the mines and 85 percent of the launchers used by the PKK were of Russian origin. This does not, of course, mean the Russian government is directly providing arms to the PKK because arms dealers may very well use the black market to supply the PKK through routes cutting across Armenia and Iran.
Nevertheless, arms smuggling to the PKK puts Moscow in a very bad position. Added to that, the unwillingness of the Russian government to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization raises further suspicions in Turkish public opinion. Turks still remember that Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, went to Russia twice after leaving Syria in 1999 to seek refuge in the country. Even the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, once attempted to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization. There were speculations that a PKK training camp had existed close to the Russian capital during the Cold War.
I think it is now time to let bygones be bygones and start a new chapter in Turkish-Russian relations on cooperating against terrorism commensurate with the close ties in a number of other areas. Claiming that Russia’s official list of terrorist organizations was written in accordance with a court decision is not a convincing argument for Turks. It boosts the negative perception of Russia among Turkish public opinion and gives credibility to an argument that the Russians have not shown the sensitivity Turks expect.
I for one am a strong advocate of close Turkish and Russian ties and believe they will bring immense benefit to both sides. This is a mutual benefit and requires mutual trust as well. Current attitudes towards PKK terrorism are a major impediment to building that trust.
Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Turkey Vladimir Ivanovskiy has said Russia will not only build a planned nuclear plant but will also train and educate Turks since in time the project will need a substantial number of experts and qualified people to run it. He also says the plan is to further technology sharing in such other areas as space science.
The Turkish government’s zero-problem with neighbors policy has borne fruit with the Russian Federation as the two countries’ cooperation in a variety of areas has seen unprecedentedly high levels in recent years. The visa waiver decision, which went into effect last month and means that people from both sides for the first time are able to cross their respective borders without needing a visa, marks the pinnacle for such close cooperation between the two powerful neighbors in the region.
In an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman Ambassador Ivanovskiy said during the high-level negotiations in nuclear talks between Russia and Turkey that the idea of establishing nuclear and space science academies where Russians will educate Turkish scientists has emerged. “For the project to be a complete success we need hundreds of people who can speak both languages,” he says, adding that both Turkey and Russia should think in practical terms, economically and socially, in order to figure out how the two could engage further.
Ivanovskiy also said interest in learning Russian in Turkey is on the rise. According to the ambassador, in February, an intergovernmental Society Forum was established to promote cooperation in nine areas. One of them is education, he said. “Turkish and Russian universities can cooperate, and we can even establish faculties in either Russia or Turkey, operated jointly, to further our cooperation in the educational field,” he explained
According to Ivanovskiy, marriages between Turks and Russians are on the rise as well. Male spouses are mostly from Turkey and female spouses are from Russia in such marriages, he said, drawing attention to the increasing number of children from those marriages who can speak both languages fluently and who, according to Ivanovskiy, are the fundamental base for a mutual future for both countries.
‘I heard about the crazy project 15 years ago from Erdoğan’
“I heard about the project 15 years ago from then Mayor Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, when I was consul general of Russia in İstanbul,” Ivanovskiy said in response to a question about the canal project. Prime Minister Erdoğan’s “crazy project” of adding another strait to İstanbul seemed a bit far-fetched to the ambassador when he first heard about it back then. “I thought it was going to be a long time for Turkey in order for such projects to materialize, yet 15 years later Turkey has developed into a nation where such projects are now believable,” he says, adding that is has taught him to “never say never” when it comes to Turkey.
Ivanovskiy says further that people need to wait until all the details emerge in order to be able to make a comprehensive assessment of the project. He points to the fact that it has not only an economic aspect but also an international legal side. Economic feasibility and the implications of the Montreux Convention should all be taken into consideration carefully, he advises.
“Deep and thorough analyses need to be done by all parties who will be involved in it — transport actors, legal experts, military people, contractors, producers who might be involved in the project — so we need to collect all the information to provide a conclusion on it. This is not only the issue for the Black Sea littoral states but also for other parties who use the straits. For example, the companies who use the straits for oil and liquefied gas transportation, container and shipping companies, a lot of actors are involved, and we need time to collect all the necessary information to be able to give an accurate assessment of the project,” Ivanovskiy said.
When Today’s Zaman was the first newspaper to break the story several months ago, sources also told Today’s Zaman that even Russia was interested in building and operating this channel. Responding to this, Ivanovskiy says in all the negotiations he took part in on the transportation of Russian oil and gas via pipeline and rail, the idea of this channel as a means of oil and gas transportation was not on the agenda. “This is my frank confession to you,” the Russian ambassador admitted.
Regarding the safety concerns of the Turkish side about the Bosporus he says Russia also shares those concerns for safety. “In my youth I graduated from naval school, and I used to travel on tankers, and at that time at night in 1968 to reach the oceans of the world you needed to travel through straits and, of course, the Bosporus. And while passing [through] the straits we could hear the announcements on the side of the straits that here a vessel crashed at this time, here another vessel crashed at another time. Of course, there are dangers, and we realize the dangers. And, of course, we share the Turkish side’s concerns related to the safety of the straits.”
‘Economic cooperation fully corresponds with political one’
When Today’s Zaman mentioned the criticism of some media outlets concerning political cooperation that does not correspond to the economic cooperation between Russia and Turkey, Ambassador Ivanovskiy voiced disagreement. He explained that there is mutual cooperation in both the economic and political relationship, which are interrelated and influence each other positively.
“I would start with mutual trust between Russia and Turkey; we manage to build mutual trust, which was broken between the two countries for many decades. The next thing would be mutual respect for mutual interests. And even when I report to my leadership on Russia and Turkey I always say that I see it in the perspective of 10 to 15 years on issues which will bind for the two countries; of course, this view of mine is not only shared here in Turkey but in my country as well,” he noted.
The ambassador also mentioned a number of correlating issues both for Russia and Turkey on their respective agendas. The development of the region is one issue where the two sides have managed to organize seven meetings from January until June of this year alone at the level of high-ranking Foreign Ministry officials on consultations concerning regional issues. “Not to mention the meetings between the two ministers,” he said. According to Ivanovskiy, during such meetings wide-ranging discussions take place, from diplomacy to security issues.
‘Turkey and Russia do not want foreign intervention in Syria’
As a more specific example of close cooperation at the political level, Russian Ambassador Ivanovskiy says both Turkey and Russia are opposed to foreign intervention in Syria. He explains that there is constant information-sharing at all levels on the Syrian issue between Russia and Turkey.
The ambassador also indicated that the movements in Libya, Syria, the Middle East and North Africa might be motivated by internal dynamics, but he is worried that it might be hijacked by external powers, creating more instability and even leading to civil war. “I can say that all foreign attempts such as the color revolutions or twitter revolutions do not always lead to the wished-for results,” Ivanovskiy said.
Situation in the Balkans
When asked about the situation in the Balkans, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular, Ambassador Ivanovskiy says it is another area where Turkey and Russia are negotiating. He says the situation should be resolved within its natural course and not by outside intervention. Without a three-state formation and without taking into account the interests of all related parties there will be never peace in the region, and if the EU wants to get involved they can, but we should not impose anything on the parties, he explains.
The energy relationship with Russia is another important area where Turkey and Russia could further relations. Russia is the number one natural gas supplier to Turkey, whose energy demand is on the rise in conjunction with its fast-growing economy. Ivanovskiy says Russia is fully aware of such needs and that they are willing to accommodate them fully. Speaking of the Blue Stream pipeline project, he says he was in Samsun 10 days ago and that they are working on utilizing the pipeline to its full capacity. According to Ivanovskiy, in two months there will be some test runs to try the pipelines at full capacity.
Regarding Nabucco, he said Russia does not see any problems. “Of course, there is always going to be competition that we cannot avoid; yet, we plan to meet demand through South Stream, and Nabucco has its own participants on the project,” he added. He also stated that Turkey would soon know all the details of the Blue Stream Project with regard to detailed layout map of the pipes n the seabed as well as environmental impact studies.
The huge trade deficit
According to data supplied by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM), the trade volume between Russia and Turkey in 2010 was around $26.2 billion, and Turkey’s exports to Russia in the same year were $4.6 billion. Thus, there is a significant trade deficit for Turkey when it comes to trade with Russia.
However, Ambassador Ivanovskiy says this is not as bad as it seems, referring to 4 million Russian tourists visiting Turkey every year. According to the TİM report, this number is expected to go as high as 5 million in the near future with the end of visa requirements. Ivanovskiy added that the economic impact of those tourists for Turkey is huge and that this is not counted when it comes to calculating exports. He also reiterated the fact that there are a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Turkey operating in Russia and remitting their earnings back to Turkey.
He also spoke about big Turkish enterprises such as Max Mara and LC Waikiki, whose number of stores in Russia has now reached more than the number of stores they have in Turkey. “So when you take all these [things] into account, it is not as bad as it seems at all for Turkey,” he says.
Ankara has officially warned Armenia about the need to stop the exploitation of the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant.
Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz said that the station was built 40 years ago and while the station were building the modern standards haven’t take into account, reported AzerTAj.
According to him to stop activity of Metsamor, which is located 16 km from the Turkish border, would be a positive step in preventing the possible danger to the population of the region and Turkey.
On the issue of the closure of the plant Ankara asked the relevant international organizations.
The only national issue as old as Turkey’s bid to become a full member of EU is Turkey’s efforts to build a nuclear plant.
Turkey has been trying to do build a plant since the 1960s. Attempts by the government in 1960, 1968, 1974 and 1998 in various provinces such as Sinop and Akkuyu have all failed. Despite lengthy research, detailed preparation efforts and tender processes for such projects, all of them have failed for different reasons. None of these reasons, however, were based on a lack of technology or resources.
In fact, Turkey has rich uranium reserves and has had nuclear experts since the mid-1960s. The country even has the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority, which has never been of much use because Turkey doesn’t have nuclear power. (The General Secretariat of the Atomic Energy Commission was established in Ankara in 1956 by Law No. 6821 as an organization affiliated to the Prime Ministry. In 1982, the commission became the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority under Law No. 2690.)
Just like Turkey’s bid for EU membership, talk about constructing an atomic power plant has been dragging over the years for no apparent reason, given that all governments have been very keen on the idea. It is as if there is an invisible hand that hasn’t allowed Turkey to build a nuclear plant. There are fierce protests over the issue and much of the Turkish public is surprisingly heavily against nuclear power, although that has not stopped past governments from acting against Turkish public opinion, such as in the inundation of the ancient city of Allianoi in western Turkey to make way for a dam.
The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government is also very determined to finally build a plant in Akkuyu. The government declared that Turkey and Russia will be partners. Russia and Turkey signed a contract in May to build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant with four reactors, at a cost of about $20 billion after more than a year of negotiations. Russia’s Rosatom Corp. will operate the plant in Akkuyu for 60 years, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said Dec. 15, 2010.
Even Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin himself made it public that Russia would build at least two plants in Turkey. The talks took a year to conclude because Turkey wants the nuclear plants to be built by foreigners without costing the government a dime. The AKP government wants the builders to run the plant and win back the costs over the years from the bills paid by the public. Of course, it wasn’t very feasible for the Russians because a plant costs more than 20 billion dollars to build.
After the Russians the government started talks with South Korea for the second plant in Sinop, but those discussions failed. That’s where the Japanese came in to the picture. Just as they financed the construction of the bridge over the Bosphorus, the Japanese agreed to finance the project for the Turkish government as long as a Japanese firm would build it. Turkey aims to conclude a deal with Japan in three months, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said.
Now, however, after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last week, both of the nuclear plants might be in danger once more. Yıldız said the plant to be built by the Russians was meant to withstand a magnitude-8.0 earthquake and could be increased if necessary.
“We can’t ignore what is happening at the Japanese nuclear plant,” Yıldız said in the interview with the Bloomberg news agency. Earlier Yıldız had said that Turkey wanted to launch an atomic power industry to diversify its energy mix and boost supply to keep up with soaring demand for electricity amid rapid economic growth. It wants to have 20 percent of its electricity come from nuclear power by 2030.
Right now Yıldız doesn’t even want to consider the possibility of not building a nuclear plant, but he might be forced to do so very soon. In Japan 140,000 people have been quarantined for being exposed to radiation. Germany and Switzerland have postponed their decisions to build new nuclear plants and many other countries are deciding to close down all their nuclear plants built before the 1980s.
It seems that Turkey will not be building its first nuclear plant any time soon.
Turkish State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said on Saturday that countries talked about Turkey’s success in economy during the past eight years.
Babacan delivered a speech at the 3rd Youth Symposium in Ankara and said that a great transformation has taken place in Turkey since 2002. Important steps have been taken on the way to become a state of law and to boost democracy, he said. “Turkey has reached a different point with its sound economy and democracy,” he said.
Babacan said that Turkey’s growth rate for 2010 would be made public on March 31, stating that market analysts projected that growth rate for 2010 would be more than 8 percent.
The number of employed people increased by 1.3 million last year, he added.
A Turkish energy company on Thursday signed a deal with the Iraqi government to build a power plant for a cost of $445.5 million.
The deal between Turkey’s Calik Energy and the Iraqi Electricity Ministry for the construction of the 1,250 megawatt al-Hayrat plant in Karbala.
Calik Holding CEO Ahmet Calik and Iraq’s Deputy Electricity Minister Salam Kazzaz penned the agreement in a ceremony in Baghdad with the participation of Iraqi Deputy Premier for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani and Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq Murat Ozcelik.
Speaking at the ceremony al-Shahristani said al-Hayrat plant would be biggest in Iraq when completed in two years time, adding that the plant would create 500 new jobs.
Al-Shahristani said the Iraqi government would open more tenders for the construction of two power plants in Mosul.
A report in Turkey on Wednesday warned that the country could run a painful electricity shortage by as early as 2016 if countermeasures were not introduced in the shortest possible time.
The report prepared by Turkey’s national electricity grid company offers projections over electricity demand and supply in the country within the next ten years.
The report says that demand will increase by 5 percent to 7.5 percent every year until 2019 with an additional capacity of 15,600 to 17,238 megawatts is expected to be generated over the next ten-years time, according to two separate scenarios drafted in line with ongoing power plant constructions.
Demand in electricity will rise by 5 percent this year, 7.5 percent in 2012, 2013, 2014 and in 2015, and 7.4 percent in 2016, 2017, 2018 and in 2019, according to a high-demand scenario.
Energy policy continues to dominate Turkey’s political agenda, as the Turkish Energy Minister, Taner Yildiz, has outlined various projects to address the country’s energy needs. Yildiz found the performance of the Turkish energy sector in 2010 satisfactory, in many respects; the increasing energy generating capacity; growing role of the private sector in electricity generation and distribution, hence the emergence of a more competitive market; improvement in the efficient use of electricity; and the developments regarding Turkey’s integration into the European electricity distribution grid (Anadolu Ajansi, January 7). In addition to tackling the domestic energy market, Yildiz, who was one of the most active members of the cabinet, seems determined to maintain his dynamic energy diplomacy this year, as he also traveled to Iran.
One dimension of this energy policy concerns the legacy of the global financial crisis. The crisis hit the Turkish economy badly, leading to a substantial decline in industrial production in 2008 and 2009. One legacy of the crisis was, thus, the penalties Turkey had to incur due to “buy-or-pay” conditions in natural gas contracts with Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan. Turkey has sought to revise the conditions of these contracts, so that it might ease their terms and possibly reduce prices: thus far, it has achieved only limited success. Yildiz said that Turkey will make payments to Russia and to a lesser extent Azerbaijan. Yildiz’s trip to Tehran, though seeking to develop overall energy relations, was largely focused on improving the conditions of Turkey’s natural gas imports from Iran. Following Yildiz’s trip, the two sides decided to form technical committees to further discuss this issue (www.enerji.gov.tr, January 8).
Turkey’s quest for cheap energy continues, especially against the background of its recent economic growth. The country’s financial system weathered the global crisis and in 2010 Turkey’s domestic consumption and growing exports helped revitalize the production sector. Notwithstanding the criticisms of its economic policy, the Turkish government has prided itself on its recent economic success and attributed this to the government’s wise management of the economy. Though the rapid economic recovery in 2010 lends partial support to the government’s arguments, it also prompted the resurfacing of a related challenge: the need for cheap energy resources to sustain economic growth. Since Turkey heavily relies on imported fossil fuels, the improvement in Turkey’s industrial production has resulted in hikes in imports, widening the foreign trade deficit. Ankara, thus, increasingly feels the pressure to diversify its energy supplies to counteract this vulnerability.
Despite this import-dependent economic growth pattern, Turkish leaders are keen to boost economic development in the future, which is closely related to the new foreign policy vision. In order to complement the country’s rising political influence in regional and international affairs, the government wants Turkey to become one of the top tier economies worldwide. The government usually refers to the year 2023, the centennial of the Turkish Republic, as a benchmark. Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced recently that in the upcoming parliamentary elections this summer, his party will run on a platform that will aim to make Turkey the tenth largest economy in the world (Star, January 1; Anadolu Ajansi, January 8). Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu has been advancing a similar argument for some time (Zaman, November 30, 2009). Recently, Davutoglu reiterated the same headline goal, yet also pointed to the need for addressing energy supply security.
It is in this context that Turkish leaders make frequent references to their determination to realize ongoing energy projects, especially the construction of nuclear power plants. Davutoglu, thus, acknowledged openly Turkey’s determination to use nuclear power, in his evaluation of the future of Turkish foreign policy (EDM, January 6): “We do not accept limitation of countries’ quest for nuclear technology, just because they might try to develop nuclear weapons. Because, the Turkish economy is growing, we aim at our GDP reaching $2.5 billion, so that we reach the list of top ten economies. Since we have neither natural gas nor oil, we are left with two options: renewable and nuclear energy. There are limits to renewables. Nuclear power is the cheapest, if you have the necessary technology” (Anadolu Ajansi, December 26, 2010).
In his assessment of Turkey’s energy sector in 2010 and the future prospects, Yildiz also emphasized nuclear energy. Interestingly, Yildiz referred to French interest in the Turkish energy sector. Specifically, Yildiz said that his ministry had recently reviewed an offer from France for the construction of a nuclear power plant and that talks with French authorities were underway. Though he did not comment on the details of the project, Yildiz said that leading French energy companies, Ariva, GDF and EDF, had expressed interest in the project. Yildiz noted that the energy ministry set up three teams to handle the talks with Russia, Japan and France (Today’s Zaman, Hurriyet Daily News, January 8).
This statement indicates that Turkey is slowly abandoning its earlier position on energy cooperation with France. To protest against the French position on the Turkish-Armenian dispute regarding the alleged genocide claims and objections by Paris to Turkey’s EU membership aspiration, Ankara had sought to exclude France from its energy sector. Turkey has recently sent signals that it might revise this policy (EDM, March 16, 2010). Moreover, Yildiz’s remarks provide further evidence that the government is willing to explore all avenues to pursue nuclear technology. After concluding a deal with Russia for the construction of the first nuclear plant, Turkey engaged in talks with South Korea. Even before the negotiations with South Korea came to an inconclusive end, Turkey started talks with Japan (EDM, November 30, 2010), and according to Yildiz currently the discussions with Tokyo are proceeding positively. By adding France to the list of its potential partners, Turkey is signaling that it approaches this matter pragmatically and is ready to pit the bidders against each other when necessary.
It remains to be seen if the government’s target of making Turkey the tenth largest economy is realistic. In any case, several projections show that emerging countries like China, Brazil and Turkey are likely to grow faster than many industrialized nations and overtake some G7 countries in the coming decades. Thus, Turkey’s demand for cheap and reliable energy and its quest for peaceful nuclear technology will remain as a major factor shaping its foreign and domestic policies.