By John C. K. Daly
July 5, 2018
For years Turkey, which imports 90 percent of its energy needs, has considered any and all options to lessen its import costs, including nuclear. The country’s energy requirements have persistently pitted the government against the country’s environmentalist lobby, one of the strongest in the Middle East. Despite such concerns, Turkey’s nuclear lobby has scored a decisive victory, as the ground has been broken for the nation’s first nuclear power plant (NPP) at Akkuyu on the southern Mediterranean coast.
Akkuyu will consist of four 1,200 megawatt (MW) VVER reactors producing a total of 4,800 MW. The Akkuyu NPP, being constructed by the Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, is projected to meet 10 percent of Turkey's future energy requirements. The first unit of the plant is scheduled to come online in 2023, with the NPP’s overall cost projected to be $20 billion.
KEY ISSUE: On April 3 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the presidential complex in Ankara, where they attended via teleconference the Akkuyu NPP groundbreaking ceremony, an event described by Erdoğan as a “historic moment.” Putin remarked, "It is difficult to overestimate the significance of this large-scale, innovative project. In essence, today we are not only witnessing the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant, but we are also creating the basis of Turkey's nuclear industry as a whole.” Despite such optimism about bringing the facility’s first reactor online in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, as highlighted by both Putin and Erdoğan in their ceremonial speeches, it remains to be seen whether such an ambitious agenda will be fully implemented in the future.
By Halil Karaveli
January 23, 2017
The Kurdish question has, once again, complicated Turkish-American relations. The rhetoric of anti-Americanism remains useful to whip up and mobilize nationalist opinion. Yet, Erdoğan’s Islamists are not any aspiring anti-imperialists. What they want – and what they expect that Turkey is now going to get – is simply a better “business deal” with the United States under Donald Trump.
By Lars Haugom
September 30, 2016
The Turkish military is undergoing a comprehensive post-coup restructuring process. It is not difficult to understand the rationale behind increased civilian government control of the armed forces after the July 15 coup attempt. However, the Turkish government aims to increase civilian political control and oversight with the armed forces, and not civilian democratic control. There is a risk that the Turkish Armed Forces will become a more politicized and dysfunctional organisation, with greater internal rivalry between the branches and an even more restive officers’ corps as a result of some of these changes.
Ergun Babahan in Özgür Düşünce comments a news article in the Wall Street Journal according to which the “Palace” (President Erdoğan) is concerned about a prospect of a military coup. The United States will support a coup in Turkey if vital American interests are threatened, and the Turkish Armed Forces will never stage a coup unless it has American support for it. For the moment, Turkey does not have a stance that threatens American interests. Yes, the American administration cannot stand Erdoğan. It dislikes his authoritarian style. However, that’s not a reason enough for a coup. Besides, the Turkish regime does everything that the U.S. administration tells it to do in the region and in Turkey. Yes, it takes some effort to bend Turkey, but this is not anything new. Turkey was always a troublesome ally. The Erdoğan regime is not doing anything, nor has it taken any such decisions, that would jeopardize the interests of American companies. Furthermore, American interests are served by the fact that Turkey has become totally dependent on the West since the downing (last year) of the Russian plane (in Syria.) The same reasons apply to the Turkish military. The military is convinced that Turkey can only survive with the Turkish-Islamic synthesis. And the AKP gets the blame for all human right violations, ensuring the image of the Armed Forces is unharmed.
Etyen Mahçupyan in Karar writes that it is obvious that ISIS has an understanding of Islam that leads it to see Turkey as an enemy, and that it intends to incite such an Islamic understanding inside Turkey. But at the same time, it is also clear that ISIS does not want to wholly be at odds with Turkey. Ultimately, it wants to be accepted as a force to bargain with in Syria and Iraq. Thus, even though they don’t hinder uncontrolled acts and though they may even resort to using violence as part of a strategy of “warning,” they have to get along with Turkey, insofar as they want to be a permanent force to reckon with in the region. The PKK’s position is no different. It’s easy to declare cantons (in Syria) when a war is raging, but much more difficult to sustain these when peace arrives… It’s obvious that you cannot categorically trust the U.S., Russia or Germany. In other words, when we pass on to the next stage in Syria, Turkey’s view of an eventual Kurdish entity is going to be a crucial factor… And what is at least as critical as this factor is the fact that the PKK runs the risk of alienating its sociological base in Turkey if it escalates the violence. In short, the two terror groups that Turkey is facing are in fact in need of Turkey’s “acceptance…” We can predict that both organizations are going to want to resort to violence in order to bring Turkey to the point that they desire, but that they at the end of the day are going to want to keep Turkey by their sides. As a new table is being set in Syria, the number of groups that would like to have violence in Turkey is thus decreasing, not increasing.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.