• Turkey accused of violating rights of Kurds, Syrians: What a bullshit

    From mike12newman@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Tue May 10 19:00:05 2016
    The responsibility for brutal and horrific conditions of all peoples in Syria belongs to Europe and the USA for doing nothing to stop brutality there by Syrian and Russian governments.

    Shame on the coward USA and Europe;



    Turkey accused of violating rights of Kurds, Syrians


    May 10, 2016

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey came under scrutiny on Tuesday for alleged human rights violations committed by security forces against Kurds in the southeast and Syrian refugees trying to enter the country, with two organizations calling for

    Human Rights Watch claimed that Turkish border guards have in the past two months killed five Syrians who were trying to cross into Turkey, and called on the country to investigate the reported use of excessive force by soldiers.

    Separately, the U.N. human rights chief urged Turkey to allow investigators to probe allegations of violations committed by Turkish security forces in their campaign against Kurdish rebels.

    New York-based Human Rights Watch accused border guards of shooting and beating asylum-seekers and at least one smuggler. It said that five refugees — including a child — were killed and 14 others were wounded in March and April.

    A Turkish Interior Ministry official denied that the incidents cited by Human Rights Watch had occurred and insisted that the country, which is home to 2.7 million Syrian refugees, does not shoot at asylum-seekers. The official cannot be named because of
    regulations that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without authorization.

    Human Rights Watch also urged Turkey to reopen its border to all Syrian asylum-seekers, claiming that Turkish border guards blocked thousands of fleeing displaced Syrians after their camps near the Turkish border had been attacked on April 13 and 15.

    The report could not independently be verified by The Associated Press.

    Turkey maintains that it has an open-door policy toward migrants, although new arrivals are rare.

    "Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling," said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch.

    The U.N. human rights chief, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, said he has received reports of unarmed civilians, including women and children, being deliberately shot by snipers or from military vehicles in the course of security operations in southeastern Turkey.
    Those operations focused on mainly Kurdish towns where militants and youths linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party are active.

    "While Turkey has a duty to protect its population from acts of violence, it is essential that the authorities respect human rights at all times while undertaking security or counter-terrorism operations," Zeid said.

    The Turkish government had not responded positively to U.N requests to visit the region and collect information, he added.

    The U.N. wants to investigate reports that more than 100 people were burned to death in the town of Cizre while sheltering in basements surrounded by security forces, who are also accused of carrying out arbitrary arrests, torture and other types of

    The U.N. also wants to investigate allegations that security forces used massive and disproportionate forces contributing to the destruction of communal infrastructure and private property, as well as mass displacement of locals.

    Zeid noted that many other districts in the southeast remain largely sealed off due to the high security presence.

    "In 2016, to have such a lack of information about what is happening in such a large and geographically accessible area is both extraordinary and deeply worrying," he said. "This black-out simply fuels suspicions about what has been going on. I therefore
    renew my call for access for UN staff and other impartial observers and investigators, including civil society organizations and journalists."


    Soguel reported from Istanbul, Turkey. Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Switzerland, also contributed.

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  • From mike12newman@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Tue May 10 19:01:12 2016

    Singaporean envoy: Turkey plays constructive role in confronting complex challenges in region

    ALI ÜNAL, @ali_unal, ANKARA, 5/8/2016

    The presence of almost 3 million refugees in Turkey reflects the generosity and compassion of Turkish people and Turkey has been a constructive player in addressing the crisis, Singaporean Ambassador Selverajah said in an interview with Daily Sabah

    The first resident Singaporean ambassador in Ankara, Mr. A. Selverajah, said that Turkey has been a constructive player in addressing the refugee problem and in the global fight against terrorism. Speaking to Daily Sabah, Ambassador Selverajah praised
    Turkey for hosting 2.7 million Syrian refugees and underlined that this reflects the generosity and compassion of the Turkish people.

    Describing the current level of bilateral relations with Turkey as excellent, Ambassador Selverajah stressed that Singapore and Turkey could increase mutual trade and investment, especially after the new-generation Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement
    came into effect. Looking to areas where economic relations can improve such as the aviation sector, especially since Turkey is building the third Istanbul airport, Mr. Selverajah added that there is also potential to extend cooperation in the cultural
    and educational spheres, and increase the flow of tourists between the two countries.

    DS: How would you evaluate the current level of bilateral relations, as the first resident Singaporean ambassador in Ankara?

    Relations between Singapore and Turkey have always been warm and friendly. We appreciate Turkey's decision to send its first resident ambassador to Singapore in 1985. As a small country, Singapore lacks the resources to set up missions in as many
    countries as we would like to. However, we decided in 2012 to open an embassy in Ankara and to appoint the first resident ambassador to Turkey in 2015. This is a testament to the growing importance which Singapore attaches to our relations with Turkey.

    Singapore's current relations with Turkey are broad-based, and include strong political, economic and cultural relations. There have been several high-level visits between Turkey and Singapore in recent years. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited
    Singapore in 2014 when he was Prime Minister, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited Singapore in 2013 as then foreign minister. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a bilateral visit to Istanbul and Ankara in October 2014, during which a
    Joint Declaration on a Strategic Partnership was signed. We are now working to expand our relationship in the areas identified in this Strategic Partnership Agreement. Prime Minister Lee also visited Antalya for the G20 Summit last November.

    With a resident embassy in Ankara and an International Enterprise office in Istanbul, we will strive to further deepen and broaden our relationship. It is my hope that we will be able to build on our achievements in bilateral relations in the past few
    years, and identify new opportunities and areas for greater collaboration. Given Turkey's growing and dynamic economy and its membership in the G20, I am confident that we will be able to find new areas where our two countries can cooperate for mutual
    benefit and take the political and economic relationship between our two countries to new heights.

    DS: Singapore and Turkey are important hubs and strategically located at the crossroads of trading activity, albeit in different regions. From this perspective how do think that the location can contribute to the bilateral relations?

    Location is an important determinant for a country's growth potential. As a small country without any natural resources, Singapore could not have succeeded if we did not have a good location. In fact, location is one of the very few things that
    Singapore is blessed with. We are fortunate to be located in the center of an economically growing region in Southeast Asia flanked by two large economies, China to our east and India to our west. Similarly, Turkey has the advantage of being located in a
    strategic region with easy access to Europe, the Balkans, the Central Asian Republics, the Middle East and Africa. We look at the potential for growing the Turkey-Singapore relations at two levels.

    At the first level, Singapore and Turkey could increase our trade and investment with each other, especially with the signing of a comprehensive and new-generation Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement. In 2015, our total bilateral trade was valued at $
    1.09 billion, a 20.9 percent increase from 2014.

    At the second level, Singapore could serve as a hub for Turkish companies that wish to increase their trade and investments in Southeast Asia and the wider Asia-Pacific region. Singapore has been serving this role for many European, American and
    Japanese companies, and can do likewise for Turkish companies. Similarly, Turkey can serve as a hub for Singaporean companies that would like to invest and trade in the Balkans, Central Asian Republics, Africa and the Middle East. Turkish companies have
    a good understanding and knowledge of the business practices, markets and economic opportunities in these regions and Singapore businesses can benefit from this and partner with Turkish companies to venture into these areas. Companies find it difficult
    to expand into distant regions alone. A valued partner who can help provide local insights is crucial to any viable business strategy going forward.

    DS: Do you believe the current state of the relationship is fulfilling for both countries? What are the main areas that the two countries need to improve on?

    We should never take the current state of relationship as the maximum that we can achieve. Otherwise, complacency would set in. While both Turkey and Singapore have worked hard to achieve the excellent relations that we today enjoy, I believe that there
    is still much more that we can do if there is political will and economic effort. Turkey's economy has more than doubled in size between 2003 and 2014, from $305 billion to $800 billion. Likewise, Singapore's economy has grown during the same period from
    $124 billion to $286 billion dollars. Given the phenomenal growth on both sides, and with both countries venturing into new sectors, I am confident that there will be more opportunities for both of us to tap our relative economic strengths for mutual
    benefit. Singapore has made a significant investment in the port of Mersin in Turkey together with a Turkish company, Akfen Holding. We should now explore other areas such as the aviation sector, especially since Turkey is building the third Istanbul
    airport and Singapore is building a fifth terminal at our Changi Airport. There is also potential for us to extend our cooperation in the cultural and educational spheres, and increase the flow of tourists between our two countries.

    DS: Regarding economic relations, which sectors have more potential for further cooperation?

    Ultimately, it is for Turkish and Singaporean businessmen to identify the areas where we can strengthen economic relations. We see an important opportunity for collaboration between Turkey and Singapore in the healthcare industry. Singapore is a medical
    hub in Asia, and Turkey likewise aspires to become a medical hub for its own region in line with the 2023 Vision. Singapore can share its experiences and capabilities to help Turkey pursue this goal. We are excited about the Healthcare Transformation
    Program in Turkey, and the investments in healthcare by private and public players, especially the Integrated Healthcare Campuses where our companies can come in as potential investors and service providers. Singapore is interested in solar energy
    development, and there is a solar energy research institute in Singapore. This could also be an area where both countries could cooperate.

    Turkey is a world leader in the construction industry. I foresee that the demand for infrastructure projects in Singapore and the other ASEAN countries will increase significantly in the coming years as the economies of these countries develop, and the
    demand for transport, housing and other infrastructure grows. Turkish companies could bid for these projects in the ASEAN region.

    Furthermore, Turkey, with its 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is one of the largest tourist destinations in the world. Singapore has also been able to successfully increase our tourist arrivals in the last few years. More tourism between Turkey and
    Singapore will help strengthen our economic cooperation. Singapore Airlines has daily flights between Singapore and Istanbul in the summer months, and five flights a week during the winter months. Turkish Airlines also flies daily to Singapore from
    Istanbul. Such connections allow for more tourist flows and help create a better understanding of the cultures of both countries.

    DS: The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Turkey and Singapore expected to come into effect in the upcoming months, was signed in November 2015 during H.E. Prime Minister Lee's visit to Turkey on the occasion of the G20 Leaders Summit. How do you think
    trade relations will be affected by the FTA?

    The FTA is a landmark agreement between Singapore and Turkey. It was completed in record time and is a comprehensive and new generation FTA. After the FTA has been ratified by the Turkish Parliament, it will come into effect in both countries. I believe
    that the FTA has enormous potential to grow the economic relationship between Singapore and Turkey.

    The FTA will reduce barriers to trade and investment between Singapore and Turkey, enhance access to service sectors and procurement markets, as well as promote greater connectivity between businesses and people. Tariffs for Singapore's exports to
    Turkey on 80 percent of all tariff lines will be eliminated immediately upon entry into force of the FTA, with the coverage rising to more than 95 percent of all tariff lines over a period of 10 years. Turkish importers and consumers, including importers
    and consumers of electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and processed food products, will benefit from the removal of Turkish tariffs under the Rules of Origin.

    The FTA will promote investment between Turkey and Singapore, and open up more business opportunities across a diverse range of sectors for both Singapore and Turkish firms. However, it is up to both Turkish and Singapore businessmen to leverage this
    FTA to look for more business opportunities. It is therefore important to build awareness of the FTA among our respective business communities so that they will reap the benefits of this agreement.

    DS: How would the possible engagement of Turkey in regional initiatives like Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) contribute to relations with Singapore and other regional actors?

    I understand that Turkey is considering becoming a Sectoral Dialogue Partner of ASEAN. Singapore welcomes Turkey's interest in having some form of institutionalized relationship with ASEAN. Becoming a Sectoral Dialogue Partner would be a good start as
    this will strengthen Turkey's relations with ASEAN countries both bilaterally and collectively. There are seven ASEAN embassies in Ankara. We are happy to learn that Turkey has resident embassies in nine ASEAN countries, and will soon open an embassy in
    the remaining one ASEAN country.

    ASEAN is on the rise. Together, the 10 ASEAN member states form the seventh largest economy in the world, with a population of 622 million and a total GDP of $2.6 trillion in 2014. ASEAN's total trade in 2014 was $1 trillion, and intra-ASEAN trade
    comprised 24 percent of ASEAN's total trade in 2014.Of the world's multi-national companies, 227 have a presence in ASEAN, with a total of $1.068 trillion in revenue. With the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in December 2015, there
    will be abundant opportunities for Turkish businesses to invest and trade in this huge ASEAN market of 622 million. ASEAN will be expecting an estimated 100 percent growth in trade volumes if AEC reforms are realized, of which 25 percent will constitute
    intra-ASEAN trade, and 75 percent will constitute ASEAN's trade with the rest of the world.

    DS: Is there anything you would like to add?

    Turkey is located in a very strategic part of the world. Turkey has been playing an important role in confronting the complex challenges faced in this region. Turkey's hosting of 2.7 million Syrian refugees reflects the generosity and compassion of the
    Turkish people. Turkey has taken on this burden more than any other country. Turkey has been a constructive player in addressing the refugee problem, together with the European Union, and in the global fight against terrorism. We hope that with the
    important contribution of Turkey, the international community will be able to address these challenges effectively and create peace, stability and prosperity in this part of the world. This is an important prerequisite for economic development and growth,
    which we all need to improve the well-being and standard of living of our peoples.

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