Turkey may play bond game against France

Turkey may play bond game against France

Gökhan Kurtaran ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey may play bond game against France

Christian Noyer, govenror of the Bank of France, reviews his speech before a conference on the euro area’s sovereign debt crisis in Paris on Dec 19. Turkey’s Central Bank has its second highest amount of reserves in France with 28.8 billion liras, according to official data. The United States comes first with 48.6 billion liras. REUTERS photo

Turkey’s Central Bank might shift nearly 30 billion Turkish Liras of investment in French bonds to other European powerhouses as part of its recent row with the eurozone’s second biggest economy, according to several economists.

“The Central Bank could withdraw its reserves from France as part of its economic sanctions in the future,” Erol Katırcıoğlu, professor of the economics department of Istanbul Bilgi University, said yesterday.

“Looking at the steps taken by the Turkish government and the tone of the political rhetoric, we can expect such a move,” Katırcıoğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview yesterday. However, such a move would strengthen opponents to Turkey’s EU membership bid and denounce Turkey as an “unreliable partner.”

It is the right of Turkey to withdraw its reserves from France, according to Kerem Alkin of Istanbul Commerce University. “This might not hurt the French economy but will prove Turkey is serious about sanctions,” Alkin said.

Recent investment

Turkey’s Central Bank has its second highest reserves in France with 28.8 billion liras, following the United States with 48.6 billion liras.

In the midst of the eurozone crisis, Turkey invested around 17.7 billion liras in French government bonds last year, according to data provided by the Central Bank.

By the end of last year, the bank’s total investments in various banks stood at 110.1 billion liras. The bank had 17.7 billion reserves in Germany, 4.8 billion in Belgium, 4.5 billion in the Netherlands and 1.3 billion in the United Kingdom.

“The French economy might face serious difficulties if the Turkish Central Bank withdraws reserves, as most of it is in French government bonds,” said Mehmet Usta, deputy chairman at Aktif Bank, who also served as general manager at Banque de Bosphore in France between 1994 and 2007. “German bonds would be the primary choice of the Central Bank instead of French bonds,” he said.

Noting the rising need for liquidity in France due to the ongoing European debt crisis, “Turkey’s investment in the country would still play an important role economically if France could not compensate the amount from any other source immediately,” he said.

Yet, responding to Daily News questions, Yücel Yazar, press counselor of the Central Bank, declined to comment on the issue. “Our data is open for everyone and clear enough, unfortunately we cannot comment on this issue now,” Yazar said.

Turkey might impose additional economic sanctions against France if the country insists on accepting the bill punishing any denial of Armenian “genocide” at the French Senate, said Ali Babacan, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, responding to Daily News questions Dec. 23. k HDN