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Greece’s PM first foreign visit to Turkey

George Papandreou, the new Greek Prime Minister, paid his first foreign visit to neighbouring Turkey on Friday. Papandreou arrived in Istanbul to attend an informal Balkan countries’ ministerial meeting.

Georgios Papandreou

George Papandreou

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

He first visited the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, where he said both countries must work together to unify Cyprus. Bartholomew said Papandreou’s arrival in Turkey for his first foreign visit is very important for Greek–Turkish relations, which are tense due to Cyprus and Aegean Sea disputes.

Later, he met with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. The two prime ministers appreciated the ongoing reunification talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. He also visited his then-counterpart and friend İsmail Cem’s tomb at the Zincirlikuyu Cemetery.

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Armenia and Turkey sign diplomatic ties

An accord between Armenia and Turkey was signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries, Ahmet Davutoğlu and Eduard Nalbandyan, on 10 October 2009.

The signing took place in Zurich, Switzerland. Armenians had protested against the deal and it was delayed for a three-hour period when further disagreements surfaced at the signing over unidentified “unacceptable formulations”, according to Armenia.

One official said it had been “pulled back from the brink”. The deal followed more than one year of talks. It is designed to allow the opening of borders and to set up a formal diplomatic relationship. The signing was attended by Bernard Kouchner, Sergey Lavrov and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the foreign ministers of France, Russia and the United States, respectively.

Protests as IMF and World Bank meet

Large clashes erupted in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday between protesters and security forces, near the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The protests came as the head of the IMF warned policymakers from 186 countries of social upheaval as the world economic crisis continues.

Demonstrators – chanting against the World Bank and IMF – marched to Taksim Square, in the heart of Istanbul. The protests drew several thousand people – mostly leftists, anti-globalisation groups, liberal democrats and trade unionists. Analysts say that the IMF and World Bank do not have a good reputation among many people in Turkey, because they have been associated with austerity programs and hardship.

Monday’s announcement by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that his government is close to signing a new agreement with the IMF made some demonstrators angry. “We are angry, but we know that we are right. We want just to protect our rights – and for this, we are here,” said one man. Read More…

Istanbul to host 2009 IMF meetings

The 2009 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF will be held in Istanbul, Turkey today and tomorrow.

The IMF and World Bank annual meetings which is held in every October with participation of finance ministers, central bankers, and other top economists of 186 member countries.

These meetings is held outside Washington, D.C. in every three years. Turkey will host the meetings for a second time. It was the host country for the meetings in 1955. Read More…

Deadly flash floods hit Istanbul

At least 31 people were killed across the region and dozens were stranded in cars or on rooftops and an unknown number remain missing.

Three of the deaths occurred in western suburbs of Istanbul on 8 September, 21 people lost their lives in Istanbul on 9 September and seven more in neighbouring Tekirdağ Province, where two further people are missing. Muammer Guler, governor of Istanbul, said 20 people were injured by the floods. Officials and experts have blamed the high death toll on unplanned urbanisation in Istanbul, which has seen buildings constructed in river beds, and an inadequate infrastructure system.

In some places the water reached a metre (3 ft) in depth, cutting access to Istanbul’s main airport and the highway running to Bulgaria and Greece. According to state-run news agency, Anatolia News, one building collapsed, although there were no reported casualties.

Police have been deployed to prevent looting from abandoned shops and factories, although the press has recorded instances of looting from vehicles. In north-west Turkey two bridges on the Bahçeköy–Saray highway were also destroyed by floods at the same time. More than 200 cars have been washed into the Marmara Sea and dozens of trucks damaged.

Since the floods began on Tuesday, over 1000 people have been rescued by emergency services. Turkish officials have also stated that over 900 firefighters and rescuers are working in the affected areas, backed up by a fleet of over 200 vehicles and 30 dinghies. Interior Minister Beşir Atalay has pledged to compensate residents of Istanbul affected by the floods. The Red Crescent Society has dispatched tents, blankets, food and personnel to the area to help survivors.

New container train launched by Pakistan’s PM

Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousaf Raza Gillani launches Pakistan’s first international container train from Islamabad to Istanbul.

Yousuf Raza Gilani یوسف رضا گیلانی

Yousuf Raza Gilani یوسف رضا گیلانی

A container train service was launched by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousuf Raza Gilani between Islamabad and Istanbul on 14 August 2009.

The first train carried 20 containers with a capacity of around 750 tons and will travel 6,500 km (4,039 mi) from Islamabad, through Iran and on to Istanbul in two weeks time.

According to the Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, after the trial of container train service, a passenger train will be launched.

Pakistan and Turkey have maintained long-standing military ties, with Turkey supplying arms, military equipment and training Pakistani officers. On April 2, 1954, Pakistan and Turkey signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation. Read More…

EC and US to provide financial backing for Nabucco Project

Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Turkey sign an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of the Nabucco natural gas pipeline from Erzurum in Turkey to Baumgarten an der March, a major natural gas hub in Austria, diversifying the current natural gas suppliers and delivery routes for Europe.

Pipeline Map

Pipeline Map

On 27 January 2009, the Nabucco Summit held in Budapest.

At the summit, the heads of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said, that they are prepared to provide financial backing for the Nabucco gas pipeline.

On 28 January 2009, the European Commission proposed €250 million as a part of its Economic Recovery Plan to be contributed through the EIB towards funding the Nabucco pipeline. Read More…