ISTANBUL — When the office of Hurriyet, a major Turkish newspaper, was attacked by a crowd of around 200 stone-throwing supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sept. 6, Emre Kizilkaya was not surprised. Kizilkaya, managing editor of Hurriyet’s English edition, says that press freedom in Turkey “has declined dramatically” since the long ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to win an overall majority in June elections and the country lurched toward civil war. After the vote, fighting resumed between the Turkish military and the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), breaking a two-year ceasefire. In the worst violence in the region since the 1990s, more than 100 soldiers and police have been killed since June in Turkey’s southeast, where many of the country’s estimated 15 million Kurds live. Kurdish militias in Iraq and Syria have led the fight against the self-described Islamic State, earning admiration in the West but prompting concerns in Ankara that Kurdish gains elsewhere are emboldening Kurds in Turkey, where they make up around 18% of the population. “In this climate of war, media has been affected, with many critical columnists forced out of newspapers and pro-government media accusing independent media, such as ours, of ‘terrorism’,” Kizilkaya told the Nikkei Asian Review.
ISTANBUL — Acronyms have long been a favourite of policy wonks and policymakers, shorthand for describing the world and the changes taking place in it. Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who came up with the now-mainstream “BRIC” catch-all for four quite different economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China – has done it again. “MIST” – or Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey – is O’Neill’s latest rhetorical agglomeration, pulling four more far-flung countries together and talking-up the next tier of large “emerging economies.” Pundits might have a field day with this, with MIST obviously more vapid and perhaps lacking the solidity of its BRIC antecedent. Still, all four have in common a number of factors: a large population and market, a big economy at about 1% of global GDP each, and all are members of the G20.
JERUSALEM – Israel’s Government last week agreed to relax its 4-year long blockade on the Gaza Strip, but the fallout from the recent flotilla incident lingers. With Israeli-US relations somewhat-frayed of late, US President Barack Obama called the move “ a step in the right direction.” Israel has come under intense international criticism for the deaths of nine Turks onboard the Mavi Marmara, one of six boats that tried to breach the naval blockade on May 31 last. Former Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble is one of two foreign observers to a committee set up to look into the clash — but the body has been described as a diversion by critics such as Turkey, who want an international investigation.