Political

RISK LEVEL: MODERATE

RISK OUTLOOK: DETERIORATING

Turkey is a unitary presidential constitutional republic that operates through the Grand National Assembly of Turkey as its unicameral legislature. Turkey is governed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) which has dominated Turkish politics since the 2002 Turkish General Election. The AKP’s incumbent leader President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has held power since, being accused over recent years of democratic tribulation and political corruption following anti-government protests in 2013. Erdoğan and the AKP have grown increasingly authoritarian through muzzling independent media and restricting access to Western social networking sites. Consequentially, a failed military coup d’état took place in 2016; during which an attempt was made on Erdoğan’s life and the Turkish Parliament was bombed, with soldiers seizing key infrastructure in Istanbul and the Turkish capital, Ankara. President Erdoğan blamed this coup on followers of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher and de-facto leader of the Gülen Movement: a Turkish social movement advocating Islamic democracy. President Erdoğan subsequently instated a three-month state of emergency that was continually extended until 19 July 2018, with tens of thousands of suspected coup participants being arrested.

Recent Mayoral elections in Istanbul on 31 March 2019 induced outrage amongst outside observers and native Turks. The contest was between Ekrem İmamoğlu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Binali Yıldırım of the AKP. İmamoğlu beat Yıldırım by 48.77% to 48.61%. However, outrage was sparked as President Erdoğan, corresponding with the encroaching authoritarianism of the AKP, responded to this loss through electoral nullification, citing spurious electoral irregularities. The Mayoral election re-ran on 23 June 2019 and İmamoğlu once again won the popular vote, albeit with a more convincing margin of 54.27% to Binali’s and the AKP’s 44.99% This was Istanbul’s biggest Mayoral election victory in 35 years and the AKP lost the re-run by more than 75,000 votes. Erdogan’s drive to re-run the election was fuelled by his own assertion that ‘he who wins Istanbul, wins Turkey’. As Turkey’s financial hub, holding the mayoral seat in Istanbul is a position that belies its title. Having held the position himself form 1994-1998, Erdogan has benefitted greatly from his tenure and the AKP are currently taking stock in the wake of defeat in the city; the result of which is likely to be increasingly authoritarian legislation that reinforces the reality that the party that controls Turkey still controls Istanbul.

Operational

RISK LEVEL: MODERATE

RISK OUTLOOK: DETERIORATING

Turkey is considered to be an emerging market economy with the world’s 17th-largest nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 13th-largest GDP by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). An upper-middle income country with poverty rates decreasing from almost 30% in 2002 to only 3% in 2016 according to the World Bank, Turkey’s unemployment rate currently stands at 10% (the United States has averaged 4% this financial year). However, since August 2018, Turkey has been experiencing a crisis characterised by the Turkish currency, the Lira, heavily depreciating in value. Following the decisive CHP victory in Istanbul the Turkish Lira initially rose in market value. This initial optimism, however, has waned throughout May and June. With the CHP now controlling Istanbul, over 70 percent of Turkey’s economy is now under CHP control. Therefore, this initial optimism initially increased confidence in the Turkish economic and political climate. Erdoğan and the AKP, however, are unlikely to bow-out gracefully and are set to continue their challenge of İmamoğlu’s victory, leading to further economic instability.

This instability and political manoeuvring against Istanbul is already evident. The Lira was down more than 2% against the dollar following the firing of Murat Çetinkaya, governor of the Central Bank of Turkey by Erdoğan in July 2019. In Asia trading, the currency has fallen as much as 3%. The firing of Çetinkaya followed a long-running dispute between President Erdoğan and the central bank which he blames for Turkey’s deteriorating economy; with the Central Bank hiking interest rates from the target rate of 7.5% in 2016 to 24% today. This orthodox method of addressing high inflation was dismissed by President Erdoğan who perceives that high interest rates cause inflation and will ultimately stifle the already fragile economy. Another blow to Turkey’s economy is a result of Turkey’s controversial purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system that President Erdoğan has confirmed is under way. Outside investors currently have low confidence in investing in Turkey’s economy, particularly since the reaction of the US to this purchase has led to perceptions that Turkey may imminently face sanctions that will further destabilise the economy.

Following poor economic performance, President Erdoğan has stated that there have been attempts to force Turkey into a new IMF loan programme in order to make the country subservient. According to Erdoğan, Turkey finished repaying debt of USD23.5 billion to the IMF in 2013 and now the central bank has increased its reserves of foreign currency to about USD90 billion from USD27.5 billion. Following this, President Erdoğan insists that attempts to force Turkey into a new IMF programme are attempts to tarnish Turkey’s name.

Given the volatility of the Lira exacerbated by President Erdoğan’s growing unpredictability and refusal to be subservient to IMF aid, foreign investors have expressed understandable hesitance in currently dealing with Turkey. Alongside this, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg recently asserted that there is a continuing lack of progress in Turkey on the matter of corruption in party funding and transparency. The report, published by the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) asserted that Turkey is continuing to experience corruption on these fronts, with the judiciary becoming increasingly corrupt. As such, the current Operational landscape in Turkey is unattractive to outside investors and is likely to remain so at least in the medium term.

Geologically, Turkey is vulnerable to many natural hazards. Notably, earthquakes and floods have occurred, and can pose a threat to infrastructure and safety. The 7.1 magnitude Marmara earthquake in 1999 resulted in over 18,000 deaths and estimated over USD28 billion in losses for both national and international companies. Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, is located on the North Anatolian Fault line and is subsequently largely prone to seismic activity. As a result, Turkey has partnered with the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) who have increased support and emphasised risk reduction and post-disaster response. Supported by the World Bank, the GFDRR have funded over USD750 million in emergency recovery and reconstruction projects that have provided a platform for the government’s shift towards emphasising the importance of risk-management strategy. The government’s current priorities for disaster risk management (DRM) include substantially reducing the seismic risk to schools (33% of Turkey’s schools currently experience a high risk), improving urban resilience in major cities and reducing risks to critical infrastructure, building DRM capacity, particularly locally, and improving financial protection and budget resources. Consequentially, whilst measures are being taken to improve Turkey’s geological threats, the risks should be borne in mind and travellers are advised to consult local authorities and media channels in the event of experiencing seismic disturbance.

Security

RISK LEVEL: LOW

RISK OUTLOOK: STABLE

In response to the CHP victory and the second election held on 23 June, protests occured across Istanbul calling for Turkey’s fragile democracy to be supported by upholding the results of a fair election that President Erdoğan spuriously claimed to have evidenced ‘irregularities and fraud.’ Travellers should expect to encounter heightened security measures where such protests occur, with peaceful gatherings holding the potential to swiftly develop into clashes between protestors and security forces. It is advised that all such gatherings should be avoided and any political discussion should be refrained from, both in public and private spaces; given the volatility of politics in a nation that is increasingly spiralling towards a pseudo-democratic authoritarianism. With Turkish politics undergoing an important period where President Erdoğan’s strongman authoritarianism could be challenged by the comparatively liberal İmamoğlu, there is likely to be increasing hostilities between supporters of President Erdoğan’s status-quo and the chance for Turkish democracy to be embedded under İmamoğlu’s new politics of justice and equality that is unlikely to cease in the near term.

Crime levels are generally low in Turkey, yet street robberies and pick-pocketing are common, especially in crowded tourist areas in Istanbul. In 2018, 32 cases of sexual assault including rape were reported to British consular staff in Turkey. Most of these cases occurred during the summer in Turkish coastal resorts and visitors, particularly women, should remain alert and avoid travelling alone. Travelling after dark is also ill-advised, particularly alone and in areas off the beaten track. Always remain familiar with your surroundings and try and stay in groups and do not venture off alone to mitigate the risk of pick-pocketing, confidence tricks or kidnappings.

Kidnappings have been on the increase in Turkey with data showing that whilst there were only 11.7 kidnappings per 100,000 people in 2003, this increased to 40.6 kidnappings per 100,000 people in 2015. Whilst this decreased to 33.5 in 2016, it is important to be aware that kidnappings are most likely to occur within 10km of the Turkey-Syria border and the provinces of Diyanbakir, Gaziantep, Hakkari, Hatay, Kilis, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Sirnak, Siirt and Tunceli in south-east Turkey. As such, these any non-essential travel to these areas is advised against. Terrorist groups including Islamic State (IS) routinely use kidnapping as a tactic and are commonly present in the Turkey-Syria border. IS view those engaged in humanitarian aid work or journalism as legitimate targets for kidnapping and the long-standing policy of the Western governments is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers, arguing that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. For this reason, you should be particularly vigilant if travelling near the Turkey-Syria border.

Turkey is a conservative country and female travellers are advised to dress modestly in clothes such as long skirts and trousers to lessen unwanted attention and not cause offence. Cat-calling is common and unwanted advances a common concern for female travellers. Displays of religious faith or political discussion are advised against as, whilst Christianity is the familiar Western religion, Christians in Turkey are increasingly facing persecution.

Turkey is the second most restrictive country on LGBT rights in Europe, second only to Azerbaijan. Homosexuality is not banned in Turkey, but members of the LGBT community face much hostility and legal restrictions with same-sex marriage not yet recognised in Turkey. LGBT marches have been banned for the past three years and homophobia is still commonplace. LGBT communities in Turkey are also not protected under any specific laws and anti-discrimination laws are not applied in employment. Fundamentally, whilst LGBT people should remain vigilant in Turkey and these communities often face violence and discrimination, Istanbul and Bodrum are relatively cosmopolitan and have a thriving LGBT scene that is becoming increasingly normalised given the importance of tourism to these areas. Conclusively, whilst there an amalgamation of security challenges to visiting Turkey, over 2.3 million British nationals experienced a trouble-free trip to Turkey in 2018.

Terrorism

RISK LEVEL: MODERATE

RISK OUTLOOK: STABLE

Terrorists are very likely to carry out attacks in Turkey. A number of terrorist groups including IS, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party, Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê), the TAK (Teyrêbazên Azadiya Kurdistan, Kurdistan Freedom Hawks), the DHKP-C (Devrimci Halk Kurtuluş Partisi-Cephesi, Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front) and the THKP-C (Türkiye Halk Kurtuluş Partisi-Cephesi, People’s Liberation Party-Front of Turkey) are all active organistions. Travellers should remain extremely vigilant as IS present a large threat to Western interests globally, the PKK have attacked important Turkish infrastructure and have killed civilians, the TAK have publically threatened to attack tourist sites and the DHKP-C and THKP-C have mainly targeted the Turkish authorities and US diplomats.

The leading perpetrator of Islamic extremist violence both to Turkish nationals and travellers is unequestionably IS. Over 2,000 Turks are estimated to have travelled to fight for IS whilst thousands of fighters have crossed into conflict at key Turkish-Syrian border towns. IS attacks against Turkey stepped up rapidly in 2016, and in August 2019 Turkish security forces have detained three female IS terrorists sought by Interpol. According to recent figures, 2,000 people were arrested and 7,000 deported in operations against IS in Turkey, whilst over 70,000 people were denied entry into the country on suspected links to the organisation.

The TAK are considered to be the primary Kurdish threat to Western businesses and travellers in western Turkey, having claimed to harm the wider Turkish economy; including by targeting foreign travellers and tourists. Notable attacks include a 2016 bombing in one of the major hubs of the capital Istanbul; taking 36 lives and wounding many more. The TAK took responsibility for the attack, claiming to have bombed the ‘fascist Turkish republic.’

We advise against travel within 10km of the Syrian border and all but essential travel to Sirnak, Kilis, Hatay and the provinces of Diyarbakir, Tunceli and Hakkari. On 24 August 2016 the Turkish military embarked on operations across the Turkey-Syria border and declared special security zones in villages in the Gaziantep Province. Fighting in Syria continues in areas close to the Turkish border and there remains a heightened risk of terrorism in this region, and roads in the Hatay province leading towards the border may be subject to closure at short notice.

Since 2015 in Diyanbakir, Tunceli and Hakkari there has been an extended period of PKK attacks on Turkish security forces which has affected citizens and travellers. In these provinces, security operations including curfews after dark have taken place and travellers ot the region should stringently adhere to these operations for your security. In eastern Turkey, the PKK carried out attacks against security personnel in Van province in August and September 2016. On 17 August 2016 an attack in central Van killed three people and injured 73 others. On 12 September 2016 an attack at a police checkpoint wounded at least 50 people in Van province. If you are travelling to any of these areas, keep up to date with local media, follow advice of local authorities and remain vigilant at all times as peaceful situations can swiftly turn volatile and violent. Generally, SI RIsk advise against travel to the Turkish-Syrian border and advise caution travelling to the Turkish-Iraq-Iran border, as well as the Eastern provinces of Diyanbakir and Tunceli.

Want to take this report with you?

Subscribe to our mailing list below to unlock access to the PDF report.

Subscribe to our mailing list to unlock this content.
OVERVIEW
SI Risk Ltd collect data about individuals, usually within a business context. SI Risk Ltd treats all data which identifies an individual, or when combined with any other information which identifies an individual, as ‘Personal Data’.

As SI Risk Ltd is registered in the United Kingdom (UK), the decision has been taken to nominate the UK Information Commissioners Office (ICO) as their Lead Data Protection Supervisory Authority. As such, all practices will comply with guidance issued by the ICO.

Unless otherwise stated, SI Risk Ltd will be known as the Controller of any personal data which is provided to them by users. This means we control what happens to the data in our possession. We will treat user information with the same care and attention as SI Risk Ltd would expect their own personal data to be treated. This will include taking appropriate organisational and technical measures to protect your information while we are holding and processing it.

SI Risk Ltd collect personal data which may include (but is not limited to) name, physical address, email address, telephone number, age, IP address, organisation name, job title, dietary requirements, allergies, qualifications, interests, and other information which helps them provide their services. In some cases, this may include (but is not limited to) travel itinerary, as well as live and historical GPS tracking data.

SI Risk Ltd need to collect this personal data to provide users with Safety and Security Risk Management Services and uphold contracts agreed with entities which may include (but is not limited to) individuals, organisations, or other third parties. SI Risk Ltd will only collect personal data from users when required for the delivery of Safety and Security Risk Management Services and when there is a legal basis for doing so.

Data is processed by SI Risk Ltd and the client which is subscribing to the Safety and Security Risk Management Services provided by SI Risk Ltd. Data processing will take place in the UK, but also in the jurisdiction of the entity (which includes, but is not limited to, a partner, client, or user) which SI Risk Ltd is providing services to resides in. SI Risk Ltd will endeavour to provide details of the processing locations (where possible) at the point at which data is collected. This will not always be possible when delivering some services, such as live tracking, due to the nature of mobile data connections. Data may be processed via Asana, Dropbox, Microsoft Office 365, Lead Forensics, Google Analytics, and other similar platforms which may include the transmission of data into the United States of America (USA). Data may be shared with other entities if it is prerequisite for the delivery of Safety and Security Risk Management Services by SI Risk Ltd or for contractual agreements between which includes, but is not limited to, a partner, client, or user and the entity (which includes, but is not limited to, a partner, client, or user) to be upheld. This may include which include providing information to travel providers (e.g. airlines and hotels) and other service providers. It may not be possible to confirm these providers in advance of collecting data from the user, but SI Risk Ltd will endeavour to inform you of all data sharing that takes place.
Data processed directly by SI Risk Ltd is located on services in the UK and USA. Newsletter (and other mailing list data) is managed via third-party software (Zoho). In conjunction with this third-party software, SI Risk Ltd use analytics packages to track engagement with the information sent via email to entities which have voluntarily opted into receiving communications from SI Risk Ltd. This information may include (but is not limited to) the email address of the user and whether the user opened the communication sent from SI Risk Ltd.

Users are required to provide explicit consent that they would like to receive communications via email from SI Risk Ltd. If consent is provided by a user, we will continue to contact you for up to 10 years from the date you initially consented to receive communications from SI Risk Ltd (unless the user withdraws their consent at any time, at which point the user will cease to receive emails from SI Risk Ltd.

No other 3rd parties have access to a user’s personal data unless specifically agreed in advance of the data being collected by SI Risk Ltd, or in circumstances detailed in this Privacy Statement.

SI Risk Ltd have a Data Protection Regime in place which oversees the effective and secure processing of your personal data, which can be provided on request by contacting the Data Protection Officer.

DATA RETENTION
All details provided to SI Risk Ltd will be held according to the legal and contractual requirements which SI Risk Ltd is subject to – which is detailed below.

- SI Risk’s public liability insurance requires that all the details of all events are maintained for a period of 3 years following an event or service provision provided by SI Risk Ltd.
- UK Revenue and Customs require that all payment information which is subject to VAT be kept for a period of at least 6 years following receipt of payment for services provided by SI Risk Ltd.

In accordance with this, all personal details of attendees for events and services provided by SI Risk Ltd will be retained by SI Risk Ltd for a period of 5 years following the end of our contract (unless otherwise indicated). This information may include (but is not limited to) the user’s name, physical address, email address, telephone number, age, IP address, organisation name, job title, dietary requirements, allergies, qualifications, interests, and other information which helps them provide their services. In some cases, this may include (but is not limited to) travel itinerary, as well as live and historical GPS tracking data.

In addition, billing information, which includes any personal data contained within invoices and accounting records, will be retained for a period of 6 years following the receipt of payment for services provided by SI Risk Ltd.

SI Risk Ltd endeavor to respond to all contact, including enquiries, in a timely and professional manner. Any contact which contains personal data will be retained for a period no more than 18 months from the date of receipt and response by SI Risk Ltd. This data is held by SI Risk Ltd under the legal basis of legitimate interest as it may be required to respond to future queries, both internally and externally, within this period.

No data retained by SI Risk Ltd will be used for any purpose other than that which is agreed at the time of contact between the user and SI Risk Ltd. This information will never be shared with third-parties without the user’s knowledge and will not be used to contact the user in future without the user’s express consent unless we believe it is relevant to your original enquiry.

YOUR RIGHTS
If at any point a user believes that the information SI Risk Ltd possess is incorrect, or should the user wish to withdraw their consent, or exercise their statutory rights (which includes, but is not limited to, your right to erasure, right to access, right to rectification, and right to be informed) they can request to see this information, have it corrected, or have it deleted.

If a user wishes to raise a complaint on how SI Risk Ltd have handled their personal data, they can contact SI Risk Ltd’s Data Protection Officer, Nathan Monshin (Nathan.mosnhin@sirisk.uk), who will investigate the matter and take all necessary actions to address the complaint.

If the user is not fully satisfied with the response provided by SI Risk Ltd (or believe SI Risk Ltd are not processing data in accordance with the law) you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – which is the Lead Data Protection Supervisory Authority of SI Risk Ltd.

CHILDREN
SI Risk Ltd will never request consent from, or market to, anybody under the age of 16.

COOKIES
SI Risk Ltd employ cookie technology to help log visitors to their website and facilitate the full and proper functionality of web services (such as but not limited to, logging in to secure areas and processing registrations). Cookies are pieces of data that are often created when someone visits a website, and which are stored in the cookie directory of a computer. Numerous cookies may be created when you visit a website controlled by SI Risk Ltd.

Up-to-date browsers give users the option to accept or decline cookies. This is a global setting that applies to every website a user visits. If a user does switch off cookies at a browser level, their device won't be able to accept cookies from any website. This means the user will struggle to access the secure area of any website they use and won't enjoy the best browsing experience when you are online. AboutCookies (http://www.aboutcookies.org) contains comprehensive information on how to disable cookies on a wide variety of browsers, details how to delete cookies from your computer as well, and more general information about them.

Cookies may be persistent, or session based. Persistent cookies are stored by a web browser and remain valid until the defined expiry date (unless deleted by the user before the expiry date). A session cookie will expire when a user ends their session (which occurs when the web browser is closed).

The type of cookies used on most websites, including those controlled by SI Risk Ltd, can be categorised in four ways (Strictly Necessary, Performance, Functionality and Targeting) according to the International Chamber of Commerce guide to cookie categories.

STRICTLY NECESSARY COOKIES
These cookies are essential, as they enable users to move around the website and use its features (such as accessing secure areas). Without these cookies, services you've asked for can't be provided. These cookies don’t gather information about you that is used for marketing or remembering where you've been on the internet.

PERFORMANCE COOKIES
These cookies collect information about how users use a website, including which pages you go to most often and if you get error messages from certain pages. These cookies don’t gather any information that identifies the user. All information these cookies collect is anonymous and is only used to improve how a website works. These cookies are not used to target users with online marketing. Without these cookies, SI Risk Ltd can’t learn how their website is performing and make relevant improvements that could better the user’s browsing experience.

FUNCTIONALITY COOKIES
These cookies allow a website to remember choices a user makes (such as user name, language, or the region you're in) and tailor the website to provide enhanced features and content for the user. For instance, a website may be able to provide a user with local weather reports or traffic news. These cookies can also be used to remember changes a user has made to text size, font, and other parts of pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services a user has asked for, such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. The information these cookies collect may be anonymous and they cannot track a user’s browsing activity on other websites. Without these cookies, a website cannot remember choices previously made by the user or personalise the user’s browsing experience.

TARGETING COOKIES
These cookies are used to tailor marketing to a user and their interests. They are also used to limit the number of times a user sees an advertisement and help measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. They remember that a user has visited a website and this information may be shared with other organisations (such as advertisers). Although these cookies can track a user’s visits to other websites, they don’t usually know who a user is. Without these cookies, online advertisements encountered by a user will be less relevant to them and their interests.

LOG FILES
When a user visits an SI Risk Ltd website, SI Risk Ltd collect web statistics concerning their visit which are stored in a log file. Log files allow SI Risk Ltd to record visitors’ use of the website, monitor site performance, and address any errors. The web teams use analytics to record visitors’ use of the site and use this information to make changes to the layout of the website and to the information provided on the website. Log files do not contain any personal information and they are not used to identify any individual patterns of use on the website.

This statement only covers websites and data maintained by SI Risk Ltd and does not cover other data or websites linked to, or associated with, SI Risk Ltd websites.

CHANGES TO OUR PRIVACY STATEMENT
SI Risk Ltd may change its Privacy Statement to align with legislation and industry standards. They will not explicitly notify website users about these changes. SI Risk Ltd recommend that you check this statement on their website occasionally for any policy changes.

This version was last updated on 16 April 2019.
I agree with the Terms & Conditions