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03/07/2024

Statements of Foreign Minister Fidan; American diplomats go door to door, threaten Turkish companies dealing with Russia; Minister of Economy Şimşek on inflation

Statements of Foreign Minister Fidan; American diplomats go door to door, threaten Turkish companies dealing with Russia; Minister of Economy Şimşek on inflation

The agenda was busy in Turkey last week.

The Antalya Diplomacy Forum was held with wide participation from abroad and domestically. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan’s statements regarding foreign policy stood out.

On the other hand, Aydınlık newspaper’s report that American diplomats pressured Turkish companies to comply with anti-Russian sanctions made a big impact.

Regarding the economy, Minister Mehmet Şimşek’s inflation-centered statements were another item on the agenda.

Fidan’s statements on Gaza

The third Antalya Diplomacy Form was held in Antalya between 1-3 March. 4700 participants from 148 countries took part in the forum, whose topic was “Advancing diplomacy in times of turmoil”.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan also gave a speech at the Forum and provided important messages.

Fidan shared the information that 19 heads of state and government, 2 heads of autonomous administrations, 64 ministers in total, including 52 foreign ministers, a speaker of the parliament, 20 parliamentarians, 20 foreign deputy ministers” participated in the Antalya forum.

Pointing out that the emerging consensus against the injustice and imbalance of the global system was also discussed at the forum, Fidan said, “The double standards and disregard of international law approaches of some international actors on different issues were literally exposed by the panelists during the forum.” said.

Fidan said that this issue was especially emphasized in the “Gaza Contact Group” panel, where diplomatic initiatives to immediately end the violence against the Palestinian people were discussed.

Stating that they had the opportunity to discuss the risks and opportunities faced by different geographies from Latin America to Asia Pacific in more detail in the panels here, Fidan said the following about the event they organized with his Palestinian and Egyptian counterparts:

“We talked about the steps we need to take to end the ongoing oppression in Gaza. We stated that the situation we are facing is also a reflection of global injustices and inequalities.”

After his speech, Fidan answered the questions of the press.

Stating that hunger and disease are rampant in Gaza, which is under Israeli attacks, and what can be done to deliver humanitarian aid and what measures can be taken, Fidan said:

“In my conversations with some of my fellow ministers, we now have friends who believe that the international community should put aside the current practices that are well-established and take unilateral steps (on the Gaza issue). We now support these views because delivering aid to Gaza by waiting for someone’s permission is no longer possible.” It means participating in the slow and silent death of more than a million people.”

Fidan emphasized that a strategic mechanism had been established between Türkiye and the US to work at ministerial and sub-ministerial levels, Fidan noted that this step aims to be a platform where issues related to energy, economy and other political and regional developments, as well as security, are discussed between the two countries will be discussed, aiming at concrete results.

Fidan noted that sub-working groups have been formed, and relevant groups come together at regular intervals. He added, “upon my colleague Anthony Blinken’s invitation, a trip to the US is planned to take place 7 to 9 of March.

Fidan stated that they will take stock of the relations between the two countries on a wide range of issues in Washington.

In his speech, Fidan also touched upon the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

Fidan said, “Both sides now seem to have reached the limits of the results they can achieve through war.” said.

Fidan stated that it is thought that it is time to start a dialogue regarding the ceasefire and said, “It does not mean recognition of the occupation, but we believe that it is time to separate the recognition of the occupation and sovereignty issues from the ceasefire issue.” made his assessment.

American diplomats operating in Türkiye pressure Turkish companies doing business with Russia

Aydınlık newspaper revealed that American diplomats operating in Türkiye threatened Turkish companies trading with Russia.

It was revealed that US Embassy officials in Türkiye visited Turkish companies and financial institutions and pressured them to cut off trade with Russia. The US Embassy official contacted by Aydınlık did not deny the visits.

Yusuf Tunçer from Aydınlık reported as follows.

Türkiye is not obliged to comply with Western sanctions against Russia because there is no United Nations decision.  That’s why the USA pressures Turkish companies through the financial system. It was revealed that US Embassy and consulate officials operating in Türkiye visited Turkish companies and financial institutions doing business with Russia and threatened to add them to the sanctions list. Company representatives contacted by Aydınlık explained that US officials threatened them by going door to door or directly inviting them to US embassy buildings.”

The report continues:

“A company official, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that one of these officers was Gülin Kan Yükseltan, Export Control Specialist at the US Consulate General in Istanbul. The business card that Yükseltan presented to the companies says “United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Export Control Specialist”.

Businesspeople, who were reluctant to give their names due to the threat of sanctions, explained that the officers identified and threatened companies that had trade and money transfers, especially with both the USA and Russia. The said the US representative had declared during: “We detected that you have trade and money transfers with Russia. Why are you doing business with Russia?”, indicating the threat to include them into a sanctions list.

The Aydınlık reporter reached US Consulate General Export Control Specialist Gülin Kan Yükseltan. Yükseltan did not deny the visits. She stated she was not authorized to provide information on this issue and would forward the request for a meeting regarding the questions to her superiors. The reporter sent the following questions by e-mail to Elizabeth Blanch, Regional Export Control Officer of the Industry and Security Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce, who is working at the US Consulate General in Istanbul, for which Yükseltan provided contact information: 1. We sent the following questions by e-mail to the personnel working at the US Embassy in Ankara and the Consulate General in Istanbul about Turkish companies doing business with Russia, and we received information that they visited financial institutions and told them that if they did business with Russia, they would be added to the US sanctions list. How many companies or organizations have such meetings been held so far? 2. What is the reason for focusing specifically on banking and financial institutions during this study? What kind of negotiations are being carried out with banks in Turkey in this context?

Elizabeth Blanch responded to the questions by saying, “I will forward your request to the BIS Office of Congressional and Public Affairs in Washington, DC for review. Please note that given time zone differences and current workload, it will not be possible to respond before close of business today.” Elizabeth Blanch had previously served in the same position at the US Embassy in China.

Inflation statements from Minister of Economy Şimşek

Minister of Treasury and Finance Mehmet Şimşek made important statements regarding the economy. Şimşek said, “Today’s inflation figure is the inflation figure of the last 12 months. Inflation will decrease in the next 12 months. The markets clearly say that they believe in a decrease of inflation.”

Şimşek continued his words with the following statements:

“The 12-month current account deficit had exceeded 60 billion dollars. It now decreased to 45 billion dollars in December. If we look at the 2-month foreign trade figures, there is an improvement of 13.2 billion dollars. The current account deficit will decrease to the range of 30-35 billion dollars in February-March. The current account deficit is narrowing dramatically, the program is working. These are valuable things. There is the picture that financial markets see; our main goal is to reduce inflation. Today’s inflation figure is the inflation figure of the last 12 months. Inflation will decrease in the next 12 months. “The markets very clearly say they believe inflation will decrease.”

Şimşek also shared the information that there will be no VAT increase and there will be no new regulation regarding taxes on car purchases and use.

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