1. Country Overview
Competition is a new phenomenon in the Turkish telecommunications industry. Until recently the fixed line segment consisted of a state-owned vertically integrated statutory monopoly, Türk Telekomunikasyon A.S. (TTAS). In the mobile segment, since the mid-1990s there were two operators, Telsim and Turkcell, which had revenue agreements with Türk Telekom; these operators were not free to set their prices, the latter was controlled by Türk Telekom.
The industry has gone through a number of significant changes in the last few years. The mobile operators were granted concession contracts in 1998, which started a period of genuine duopoly competition. Additional licenses were granted in 2000. The monopoly of TTAS over fixed line infrastructure and voice services ended at the end of 2003 and it was announced that TTAS would be privatized in a few years. The Telecommunications Authority (TA) was established in 2000 with extensive powers to issue secondary legislation in areas such as tariffs, interconnection and (since 2001) licensing, to monitor compliance and impose fines in case of non-compliance.
Turkey has a separate Law on the Protection of Competition which is enforced by the Competition Authority (CA). The CA has taken a number of significant decisions in the telecommunications industry involving cases of abuse of dominant position by incumbents in both the fixed and wireless segments. There is some ambiguity in the relevant laws regarding the division of authority between the TA and CA, and the two agencies have not been able to develop a productive relationship.
Duopoly competition in mobile markets existed since the 1990s. In this sense, the interaction in between the telecommunication sec- tor and competition law can be stated as that it created or helped to create a more liberalized environment for production, consumption and circulation of the telecommunication products. The Telecommunications Authority, on the other hand, may request the opinion of the Competition Authority in order to ensure that the standard reference tariffs or interconnection and roaming agreements do not undermine free competition. Telecommunications Authority and Competition Authority, however, realized that more detailed principles should be set out in order to clarify their respective jurisdictions and co-operation
Turkey ranks 84th out of 144 countries in the protection of intellectual property rights, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index 2012-2013. The Property Rights Alliance's 2012 report puts the country at 59th among 130 countries on the same issue. The estimated losses caused by piracy are considerable, with the cost to the publishing industry alone reaching some $500 million (885 million TL), or about 42 percent of the $1.2 billion (2.1 billion TL) sector, according to Cahit Suluk, an Istanbul-based lawyer specialising in property rights.
Directorate General of Copyright (THGM) announced revisions to the current Law for Intellectual Property and Artworks. The new bill criminalizes both sharing and downloading copyrighted material. THGM is hopeful that the bill will alleviate the problems the entertainment industry is facing. Record sales in Turkey are down to 9 million in 2011, from 70 million in 2004, and 120 million in 1994.
The revision will make it possible to target the IP of the computers downloading or sharing copyrighted material according to Clause 73 of the law 5846.
Turkey also performs very poorly regarding industrial property rights.
"We are faced with 'a la Turca' style industrial property rights protection," Suluk said, adding that the situation was not much different regarding goods imitation, with Istanbul's Kapalıçarşı, Laleli and Merter districts having become "imitation paradises" for well-known brands such as Gucci, Armani, Lacoste, D&G and others.
While Turkey is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, skyrocketing energy needs to fuel the economy have created a notable gap between domestic supply and demand, making the country highly dependent on external energy sources.
According to a 2010 report on energy efficiency published by the Energy Efficiency Association (ENVER), Turkey imported 64% of its energy resources and received the rest from domestic sources. Last year this amounted to an energy import bill of $49.6 billion, compared to total imports of $236.9 billion, putting pressure on Turkey's high current account deficit.
Haluk Direskeneli, an Ankara-based energy expert, noted that Turkey is very rich in renewables such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass energy. He said Turkey had to make long term investments in these fields, using its domestic labour force, technology and financial resources, to break its dependence on other countries for power.
Authorities are aware of the benefits of renewable energy resources, but it requires time to implement a new energy policy, Petroleum Platform Association Secretary-General Altan Kolbay told SES Türkiye.
"There is huge demand for energy in order to sustain growth," Kolbay said, adding that one could not simply shift from current energy sources to renewables. "It is like trying to change the car's wheel while you are driving very fast."
Turkey meets 32% of its energy needs with natural gas, 31% with oil, 20% through coal, 9% through hydropower and 8% through other energy resources, according to ENVER's report. Of these, the country imports 97% of its natural gas, 93% of its oil and 20% of its coal -- its three primary energy resources.
According to figures by Turkey's Energy Markets Regulatory Board, Turkey imported 21% of its natural gas and 43% of its crude oil from Iran in 2010, making it a critical player in Turkey's energy trade
"Any kind of cutback by Iran would affect the Turkish economy very negatively and put it in difficulty," Necdet Pamir, a former board member on the World Energy Council's Turkish National Committee
Kurds are the largest ethnic and linguistic minority in Turkey. The estimated numbers claimed by various sources range from 10 to 23 per cent of the population. According to the 1965 national census, those who declared Kurdish as their mother tongue or second language constituted around 7.5 per cent of the population.
Looking at Turkey’s gross national product region by region during the 1980s, we see how Kurdish cities, which had been within the mid-ranks in 1979, started to hit bottom by the mid-1980s. The drop was caused by the effects of the new economic policies, which destroyed the traditional livelihoods of people in the eastern region, resulting in the forced migration of Kurdish people to the west. Particularly bad for the economy of the Kurdish regions were the end of agricultural subsidies and the policy of steering the livestock economy towards meat exports. After the implementation of these new economic policies, Kurdish elites maintained their economic power but scarcity of production rendered the other residents of the region helpless. Kurdish migration was not enforced merely by economic channels; political conflicts also triggered the atrocious conditions inflicted on the Kurdish provinces. Thus, the Kurdish urbanization began and Kurds are still disadvantaged in terms of economic and social situation.
Moreover, There is the Turkey-PKK conflict as an armed conflict between the Republic of Turkey and various Kurdish insurgent groups, which have demanded separation from Turkey to create an independent Kurdistan, or to have autonomy and greater political and cultural rights for Kurds inside the Republic of Turkey. The main rebel group is the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK (Kurdish: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan), which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, the European Union and NATO. Although insurgents have carried out attacks in many regions of Turkey, the insurgency is mainly in southeastern Turkey. The PKK's military presence in Iraq's Kurdistan Region, from which it launches attacks on Turkey, has resulted in the Turkish military carrying out frequent ground incursions and air and artillery strikes in the region, because the Kurdistan Regional Government claims it does not have sufficient military forces to prevent the PKK from operating
Censorship in Turkey is regulated by domestic and international legislation—which takes precedence over domestic law, according to Article 90 ("Ratification of International Treaties") of the Constitution (so amended in 2004). Despite the protections presented in article 90, Turkey ranked 138 in the Reporters Without Borders' 2010 Annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. In 2011-2012 Turkey ranked 148 out of 169 countries in the Reporters Without Borders list. Within the framework of negotiations with the European Union, the EU has requested that Turkey issue various legal reforms in order to improve freedom of expression and press.
On 20 March 2014, access to Twitter was blocked when a court ordered that "protection measures" be applied to the service. This followed earlier remarks by Prime MinisterTayyip Erdogan who vowed to "wipe out Twitter" following damaging allegations of corruption in his inner circle. However, on 27 March 2014, Istanbul Anatolia 18th Criminal Court of Peace suspended the above-mentioned court order. Turkey's constitutional court later ruled that the ban is illegal. Two weeks after the Turkish government blocked the site, the Twitter ban was lifted.
Turkish courts have ordered blocks on access to the YouTube website. This first occurred when Türk Telekom blocked the site in compliance with decision 2007/384 issued by the Istanbul 1st Criminal Court of Peace (Sulh Ceza Mahkeme) on 6 March 2007. The court decision was based on videos insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in an escalation of what the Turkish media referred to as a "virtual war" of insults between Greek, Armenian and Turkish YouTube members. YouTube was sued for "insulting Turkishness" and access to the site was suspended pending the removal of the video. YouTube lawyers sent proof of the video's removal to the Istanbul public prosecutor and access was restored on 9 March 2007.
On 27 March 2014, Turkey banned YouTube again. This time, they did so mere hours after a video was posted there claiming to depict Turkey's foreign minister, spy chief and a top general discussing scenarios that could lead to their country's military attacking jihadist militants in Syria. The ban was ordered lifted by a series of court rulings, starting 9 April 2014, but Turkey defied the court orders and kept access to YouTube blocked. On 29 May the Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled that the block violated the constitutional right to freedom of expression and ordered that YouTube access be restored.
As of the morning of 1 June 2014, access to YouTube remained blocked in Turkey. But during the day, access appeared to have been restored.