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Country Reports

Turkey Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Turkey's local elections on 31 March 2019, held during an economic recession, saw President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) lose key municipalities, including Istanbul and Ankara, to the opposition. Erdoğan, refusing to accept the Istanbul result, oversaw its cancellation. A re-vote is scheduled for 23 June. AKP dissidents are likely to establish a splinter party in 2019. Despite these setbacks, Erdoğan remains by far Turkey's most popular politician, particularly among conservative and nationalist voters. The government's economic reform agenda risks being derailed by the continuing local election controversy and later by an impending diplomatic stand-off with the US, which would probably trigger a renewed Turkish lira collapse. Meanwhile, a ceasefire and negotiations with the Kurdish separatist Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK) in southeast Turkey remain highly unlikely.Despite a temporary recovery following the lira's collapse in August 2018 and subsequent sharp interest rate increase, lira instability resumed in March. It traded at TRY5.97:USD1.00 on 3 May, 8.4% weaker than it had been on 21 March. The factors that caused the slide in 2018 remain in place: lack of confidence over the central bank's independence, high short-term external obligations in the private sector, low net reserves, and a paucity of portfolio capital inflows.The current 24% benchmark interest rate hurts domestic demand. IHS Markit projects three consecutive quarters of GDP contraction (averaging a 3.18% decrease, on an annual basis) until growth recovers in the third quarter of 2019, but renewed lira instability would probably deepen and/or extend that recession. Annual inflation will top 20% for several quarters.The weaker lira and soft domestic demand are substantially reducing imports, while currency depreciation has boosted export competitiveness, although improvements are limited in many segments. The result has been a substantial overall reduction in the current-account deficit. However, with portfolio investment inflows interrupted, external financing remains a downside risk.
Last update: June 6, 2019

Operational Outlook

An obstructive bureaucracy and commonplace corruption remain operational weaknesses, particularly for companies seeking either state tenders or business permits – both ministerial and municipal – without a political connection. Bureaucratic inefficiency was further exacerbated by the upheaval of Turkey's legal institutions after the 16 April 2017 constitutional referendum, adding to existing instability resulting from the government's extensive purges in late 2016. Although striking rights are constitutionally enshrined, labour strikes and work stoppages in practice remain uncommon in Turkey, given the domination of the labour market by "yellow" labour unions that enjoy close relations with the government, as well as the suppression of strike action through law enforcement.

Last update: May 17, 2019

Terrorism

High

Fighting between the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK) and the government in the country's southeast has abated after reaching a peak in mid-2016. Likely targets for the PKK in the southeast are security forces assets and personnel, as well as pipelines and hydropower plants. There remains an elevated risk of improvised explosive device (IED) and shooting attacks by PKK affiliates and Islamic State militants in major cities like Istanbul and Ankara. Both groups are likely to target the security forces, while the Islamic State is equally likely to target touristic locations, airports, and malls, although its intent will probably remain unmatched by its capacity.

Last update: June 21, 2019

Crime

Drug trafficking remains the single largest source of illegal proceeds in Turkey. Human trafficking is an equally severe problem, as Turkey provides a key transit route for immigrants from Central Asia and the Middle East trying to enter the EU illegally. Widespread financial crime includes the rigging of bids for state and municipal contracts, bribery, and money laundering at both ministerial and local municipal levels. Lastly, Turkey's porous borders render the country a frequently-used route for arms trafficking. The transit of both arms and individuals in and out of Syria was stopped by a government clampdown on the border in 2016, after having turned a blind eye until then.

Last update: May 24, 2019

War Risks

Turkey's military entrenchment in northern Syria is unlikely to give rise to reprisal attacks by the Syrian government, with Turkey's military intervention having taken place with consent from the Syrian government's patron, Russia. Although Turkey considers the territorial consolidation of the Syrian-Kurdish militia group YPG a major threat, a Turkish ground operation against YPG militants, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, remains unlikely so long as the YPG remains supported locally by US military personnel. An operation would become likely, however, if the US followed through with its stated intention of withdrawing military from Syria.

Last update: May 24, 2019

Social Stability

Elevated

There is an elevated risk of mass opposition protests in key cities such as Istanbul and Ankara following the 23 June re-run of the Istanbul municipal election, in the event that the election is tainted by blatant government interference. Opposition protests would likely trigger counter-protests by government supporters, resulting in localised violence, entailing collateral property damage risks, resulting from stone throwing and arson, and the erection of makeshift road barriers. Violent protests in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast are unlikely in the one-year outlook, as evinced by the relative inaction of the Kurdish population since a spate of unrest in 2014.

Last update: May 24, 2019

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

Natural disasters also pose a potentially significant threat to visitors to the country. Turkey is situated in one of the most active seismic zones in the world; the north of the country often experiences violent earthquakes (e.g. the Izmit earthquake in the summer of 1999 that left 18,000 dead). The east is also affected; a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey on October 23, 2011, causing 500 deaths.

Turkey also occasionally experiences destructive torrential rains and consequent flooding and landslides. Heavy rain in Istanbul caused flash flooding and significant transportation disruptions on three separate occasions in summer 2017.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Elevated

The road network is of good quality in big cities and infrastructural improvement projects are underway. Road signs are posted in accordance with international protocol. However, traffic fatality rates are worryingly high in Turkey. Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way on Turkish roads and should exercise extreme caution when crossing the street; drivers are generally aggressive and frequently ignore traffic regulations. It is advised to avoid traveling at night on smaller roads outside cities.

It is recommended to use only official taxis equipped with a meter.

The rail network is reliable and connects the major main cities. High-speed rail lines (YHT), which are cheap and comfortable, run between Ankara-Konya and Eskisehir-Istanbul.

Many local airlines operate flights between major cities. Winter weather conditions can lead to severe delays and cancelations, especially in Istanbul at the Istanbul-Atatürk (IST) and Sabiha Gökçen airports.

Travelers should be aware that traffic restrictions may be enforced in districts neighboring Syria and Iraq as well as in the department of Agri, where access to Mounts Ararat and Tendürek requires prior government authorization.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Turkey's climate varies by region. The climate is Mediterranean in nature along the Aegean and Mediterranean seas; summers there are hot and winters are mild. The climate is continental inland with temperatures than can fall below 0°C in the winter and climb above 40°C in the summer (particularly in Anatolia). Along the coast of the Black Sea the climate is more temperate and wetter.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +90
Police: 155
Fire Dept.: 110
Ambulance: 112

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019