News round up: what’s going on in Turkey?
Turkey to bump up its Council of Europe contribution
Turkey’s foreign ministry is to increase its annual contribution to the Council of Europe, channelling 34 million euros each year into the human rights organisation, an increase of 13.6 million euros.
The contribution will make Turkey one of the biggest contributors to the council, along with Germany, the UK, Italy, France and Russia.
In January, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey was one of the founding members of the organisation, and as such would like to be one of the “grand payers” of the council.
EU and Turkey to grow decades-old customs union
The fortunes of Turkey and the EU will be bound closer with the expansion of the customs union.
Brussels and Ankara are seeking to improve ties and expand areas of co-operation, as well as find ways to mutually confront issues from terrorism to economic turmoil.
The agreement strengthens trade ties by eliminating tariffs, as well as improved channels for co-operation. Over the last few months Turkey and EU have shared intelligence and bolstered security ties to halt the numbers of Western fighters heading to the Islamic State.
The union was conceived as a precursor to Turkey’s joining the EU, and it hasn’t been updated since 1995. More changes are now on the table, with Ankara and EU officials discussing whether to extend the agreement to include services, government contracting and agricultural goods.
Turkey has long been left in the dark with trade deals - which makes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) a contentious issue. Over the last two years, Ankara has repeatedly threatened to leave the customs union unless Turkey becomes a party to the TTIP. The EU has remained noncommittal on the matter.
The EU is Turkey’s largest export market, with almost US$20 billion worth of sales in the first quarter of this year. For the EU, Turkey is its sixth-largest market.
Turkey supports alliance growth at NATO meeting
NATO officials gathered in Antalya last week to discuss international security.
Turkish officials took the opportunity to support the alliance in its growing conflict with Russia, and announced that Turkey would head the alliance’s new Spearhead Force in 2021. The rapid reaction unit staffed with NATO member militaries is a reaction to the Russian attempt to destabilise NATO countries.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Cavusoglu criticised Russian policy in the region, saying “Nothing can justify what Russia has been doing in its neighbourhood.... Ukraine. Crimea. Georgia.”
Cavusoglu also called for NATO to expand and accept new members at its next summit, in Warsaw next year.
Metrosexuality behind hair transplant boom in Turkey
Tens of thousands of men are travelling to Turkey each year for hair transplants, with many combining the procedure with a tourism package.
Patients from all over Europe and the Middle East are paying around USD$1900 for a three-day hair transplant and tourism deal, which includes having 4000 pieces of hair implanted into your scalp - and taking in some of the local attractions.
A popular Istanbul clinic claims that around 200 patients a day have hair transplants in Turkey. Dr Hamid Aydin, the managing physician at private clinic EstetIstanbul says that hair transplant patients bring in almost half a billion dollars a year, adding to Turkey’s annual $7 billion medical tourism industry.
Aydin says 80 percent of his business comes from hair transplants, and that the majority of his clients are Arabs, followed by Dutch, Italians, Russians and Brits.
Metrosexuality is bucking the trend, according to the physician. "Men are following women and starting to track the trends," he says, noting that men are increasingly having nose jobs and are close to overtaking women on this front.
Turkey emerging as global hotspot for health care
Turkey has become one of the most significant healthcare markets in the world. Thanks to its increasing middle class, who are clamouring for healthcare, the country’s healthcare spending has doubled over the past decade, reaching US$62.3 billion.
A briefing last week in Milan focussed on investment opportunities in Turkey. Frost & Sullivan’s South Europe and Turkey director Philipp Reuter said that Turkey’s “socio-economic transformation” over the past decade and healthcare programmes introduced by the government have boosted the sector, meaning that more and more patients are accessing healthcare than ever before.
The number of patients seeking treatment for chronic diseases doubled between 2005 and 2015, and an ageing trend will continue to boost spending, Reuter said. The quality of healthcare services has also improved immeasurably. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of private hospitals increased by 86 percent.
As an emerging hotspot, Turkey has attracted investments in the areas of private healthcare services, medical devices and pharmaceuticals - Turkey’s pharmaceuticals market is currently the sixth largest in Europe.
Odd spot: Selfie-snapping statue of Ottoman prince vandalised
A much talked-about statue of an Ottoman prince taking a selfie has been vandalised, just hours after its installation.
The life-sized artwork was unveiled in Amasya, Northern Turkey, but it was quickly defaced, with the cellphone and part of the sword snapped off.
Armed guards have been drafted to watch over the prince. Presumably because he no longer has a sword to protect himself.
The statue was meant to reflect Amasya’s history of receiving Ottoman princes, and has been popular with visitors, who have posed for selfies in front of the artwork.
Police are investigating.