President Abdullah Gül approved the decisions of the Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, naming the new leadership of the military. Despite speculation about tensions at the four-day meeting, the eventual promotions showed the army's established rules of succession were not profoundly shaken by the resignations, observers said.
Gül published the final decisions after approving them, the Daily Hürriyet reported on its Web site.
New TSK Force Commanders
Chief of General Staff: Gen. Necdet Özel. Özel was born in 1950 in Ankara and has one child.
Land Force Commander: Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu. Kıvrıkoğlu was born in 1948 in Konya. He has two children.
Naval Force Commander: Adm. Emin Murat Bilgel. Bilgel was born in 1952 in Istanbul.
Air Force Commander: Gen. Mehmet Erten. Erten was born in 1948 in Muğla's Bodrum district. He has one child.
Gendarmarie Commander: Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu.
Gen. Necdet Özel formally assumed office as chief of General Staff until 2015, relieved – at least for now – from a stalemate over 14 fellow generals behind bars on coup-plotting charges. The legal cases prompted his predecessor, Işık Koşaner, and his three top aides to step down late last week.
Özel is believed to be on good terms with the government; he has drawn attention for having shunned prison visits to see the coup suspects and is said to be supportive of the government's Kurdish initiative.
This year's YAŞ was led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's growing assertiveness against the army, which was symbolized in a widely published photo showing him sitting alone at the head of the table, unlike previous years when the prime minister shared the spot with the army chief.
Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu was appointed Land Forces commander in what is believed to have been reluctant government consent.
The 63-year-old general had made headlines during his tenure as head of the Turkish forces in northern Cyprus for refusing to greet President Gül and his headscarf-wearing wife at the airport and for his chilly ties with Turkish Cypriot leaders. Gen. Emin Murat Bilgel, 59, became the commander of the Naval Force, while Mehmet Erten, 63, took over the Air Force after YAŞ awarded him a promotion to evade the unprecedented eventuality of handing the post to a three-star general.
Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, 61, was appointed chief of the Gendarmerie, despite speculation that he was among officers the government could cross out. If the army's traditional succession rules survive under Erdoğan, Kalyoncu is the most likely candidate to become the next Land Forces commander in 2013 and then chief of General Staff in 2015.
Presidential Spokesman Ahmet Sever and the General Staff announced the new commanders after Gül approved the list of promotions. The president separately signed a Cabinet decree for Gen. Özel's appointment as army chief.
Sever said the YAŞ had also decided to extend, by one year, the tenure of the 14 generals who remain behind bars awaiting trial as part of the Balyoz Sledgehammer case, in what appeared to be a temporary settlement to a major point of contention.
The extension means the generals' rankings are being effectively frozen until next year, when their situation will be reviewed again, according to how the Balyoz trial develops. In other YAŞ decisions, Aegean Army commander Gen. Nusret Taşdeler, who risks being arrested over an alleged army-sponsored Internet campaign to defame the government, was appointed to head the relatively un-influential Education and Doctrine Command of the Land Force.
He is taking over from Gen. Saldıray Berk, who was sent into retirement after being indicted in a separate court case, part of the sprawling investigation into Ergenekon. The deputy chief of General Staff, Gen. Aslan Güner, known to have fallen from grace for snubbing Hayrünnisa Gül at an official greeting ceremony, became head of the military academies. He was succeeded by Gen. Hulusi Akar.
After Approval of Top Military Brass, Security Becomes Primary Concern
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed "determination" in continuing the fight against terrorism following an extraordinary security meeting in Ankara on Thursday.
The meeting was held after President Abdullah Gül appointed new military commanders following the resignation of the top brass. A crisis over promotions was avoided with a compromise at this year's Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, in which the positions of 14 generals accused in coup-plot cases were put on hold for another year.
The security meeting was held due to increased terrorist attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in the last few weeks.
Turkey's top civilian and military officials convened Thursday to review the current state of the country's anti-terror fight and to discuss possible new measures following the end of the annual YAŞ.
Chaired by Erdoğan, the summit marked the first appearance of Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, Land Forces Commander Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu and Gendarmerie Forces Commander Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu after their appointments to their positions at the four-day YAŞ meeting. In addition to military officials, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and National Intelligence Organization, or MİT, head Hakan Fidan were also present at the nearly three-hour meeting.
"The latest developments with regard to the fight against terrorism have been discussed in its widest sense," a brief statement released after the meeting read. It did not give details about the content of the meeting.
The last security meeting was held right after the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK's, deadly ambush in Diyarbakır's Silvan district, an attack that killed 13 troops and wounded seven, the army's highest casualty since late 2008.
Following an increase in terror acts after the PKK ended its unilateral truce in mid-July, the government began to reconsider its current methods in the anti-terror fight, including a strengthened role for the police with the coordination of the military. Under this new plan, governors in provincial cities will play a key role in providing efficient coordination between the police and the military. In earlier statements, government members said the new plan was not putting the military aside, but instead focusing on a multi-dimensional mechanism. It is also considering the military's transition into a more professional army with more experienced soldiers to be deployed to sensitive border points.
Central Bank Confounds Markets With New Policies
Turkey's Central Bank cut its key interest rate, but raised the overnight borrowing rates at an unscheduled Monetary Policy Committee meeting Thursday, surprising markets and economists. The decision appeared to contradict the ongoing policy to cool down the overheated economy.
The twin move aims to help Turkey cope with global economic strains and prevent its fast-growing economy from being dragged into a recession, a statement by the bank said after the meeting. According to several economists, the statement indicates that the bank sees economic growth as a priority, not price stability.
The Monetary Policy Committee lowered its key policy rate from 6.25 percent to 5.75 percent, it said in a statement on its Web site.
"The committee decided to lower the policy rate in order to reduce the risk of domestic stagnation that might be caused by the growing problems of the global economy," it said.
The Central Bank raised its overnight borrowing rates from 1.5 percent to 5.0 percent in order to "reduce the volatility" in short-term interest rates in a bid to narrow the interest rate corridor.
Foreign Exchange Auctions
Along with the shift in rates, the bank also announced it would restart selling foreign exchange. The bank said it would hold foreign exchange selling auctions "whenever it deemed necessary," starting Friday. The last time the Central Bank held a foreign exchange auction was April 2, 2009. Selling auctions were suspended as of April 3, 2009. The Central Bank also suspended its foreign exchange buying auctions as of July 25, 2011. It had bought $21.3 billion during the previous 19 months.
"For buying opportunities, we think stabilization in the exchange rate is required and we think market players will test the Central Bank's willingness to provide foreign exchange liquidity to the system," said Özgür Altuğ of BGC Partners in a note to investors. "Therefore, the daily foreign exchange selling auction amount will be very important, in our view."
The bank's rate cut came right after interventions by Swiss and Japanese authorities in a bid to secure the values of their national currencies.
Europe Keeps Rate Unchanged
The European Central Bank, or ECB, meanwhile, held its key interest rate for the euro zone steady at 1.50 percent. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said Thursday that the bank's governing council voted overwhelmingly on a decision to renew sovereign bond purchases. The council was not unanimous, but "we were an overwhelming majority on the operation as regards this bond purchases," Trichet said after markets reported the ECB had resumed its controversial program of sovereign debt purchases.
In a similar move, the British central bank also kept the key interest rate unchanged at a meeting Thursday.
Criticism by Moody's
On Wednesday, credit ratings agency Moody's warned Turkey about growing domestic and external imbalances that could undermine its positive rating outlook, if left unaddressed.
The Turkish economy contracted 4.7 percent in 2009, but grew 8.9 percent last year, higher than the government had forecast.
Moody's said a rapid inflow of funds made Turkey "susceptible to sudden shocks or shifts in investor sentiment" and the immediate challenge for the country was to strengthen its resilience to external shocks by restraining domestic demand.
A New Era
Murat Salar, the general manager of Osmanlı Portföy, a local portfolio management firm, said the bank's decision shows a new era has begun.
"[The bank] says it is widening the economy in a period when it was speaking of tightening the policy." He said. "This indicates that they have serious data on a slowdown."
The bank is moving into a "crisis mode," Fatih Keresteci of HSBC said in a note, adding, "The bank will provide the liquidity that the markets need under any condition."
A research note from Finansbank said the bank took the latest measures in order to ensure a more balanced distribution of liquidity within the banking system.
"This, of course, is rather controversial as most market participants and rating agencies are still more concerned about overheating," the lender said. "We are more sympathetic than the market to the bank's position. Yet, we acknowledge that the investor community that has been skeptical about the policy framework all along will now be even more concerned about the bank's stance.
"Overall, [the decision is] positive for banks and fixed income securities in the short run but negative for [the Turkish] Lira in the near term," said Altuğ. "However, the bank's action caused confusion among investors as the uncertainty level increased."
Timothy Ash of the Royal Bank of Scotland agreed that the bank shocked the market.
"The danger with this totally out-of-the-box move is that investors will seriously begin to question the credibility of the bank as an institution, given that foreign investors' prime concern at present on Turkey is fears of overheating, as reflected in the current account deficit," Ash said in an official note. "Thinking aloud, I just wonder if this move is a signal also that the bank seems confident that the government will ride to its rescue by delivering some fiscal austerity when it delivers revisions to its medium-term program in September."
New Standards to be Put in Place for Women's Shelter Homes in Turkey, Official Says
New standards will be set for women's treatment programs in shelter homes, regardless of a victims treatment category, and a new domestic violence hotline will be integrated with the police emergency line, the minister of family and social policies said.
Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin announced on Thursday new across-the-board codes and standards for all shelter homes, while visiting the southeastern province of Van.
"Just as there are certain standards and codes that either public or private nursery homes are obliged to abide by, shelter homes will also follow suit," Şahin said. "There are separate practices [in shelter homes] for [women] who engage in prostitution, face violence, [or] suffer economic hardships. We are going to subject these [practices] to certain rules, so that [shelter homes] know what we want when we conduct inspections."
The domestic violence hotline, 183, will also be integrated with the police emergency line, 155, she explained.
"Regardless of whichever line you call, the police will come to your aid," the minister said.
"As you know, municipalities and civil society organizations have shelter homes. We will make amendments to the [relevant] law. We will alter the statement that 'Shelter homes may be opened in places with a population of more than 50,000,' by inserting 'shall be opened,'" Şahin said. "We will make it obligatory. This statement is, unfortunately, misapplied by some municipalities. Special provincial administrations will also open shelter homes."
Inspection procedures are also inadequate due to the lack of standardizing arrangements regarding the means by which women are granted protection, as well as the duration of their stay in shelter homes, the minister said. To this end, all shelter home administrators will be convened at a meeting to help institute a new model for the sheltering system, she added.