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Turkey rocked by mine disaster

Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 02:15

May 15 - Turkey is the T in MINT - the new group of emerging economies - but where does the mine disaster and the strikes resulting from it leave the country's reputation as a place to invest? Sonia Legg reports.

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More than 280 confirmed dead and 100 or so still missing. The scale of the tragedy at a coal mine in Turkey is hard to comprehend. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) RELATIVE OF A MINER, SEFER HAZAR SAYING: "He had two children. His wife is devastated. The family is devastated, so are we. And it's not only him, we know others who have lost their lives." Anger about the disaster has swept the country and numerous strike calls have been made. The government's cosiness with mining tycoons and its failure to ensure safety just two complaints. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) RETIRED MINER ABDULGAFUR KARAKOC SAYING: "They heap pressure on miners to get more coal, that is what matters to the company's owners. They don't care for those who died." Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's response hasn't helped. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH PRIME MINISTER, TAYYIP ERDOGAN, SAYING: "Such mine accidents don't just happen in Turkey. They also happen in many countries such as the United States, China, France, India and Belgium. Our country is in a much better position." But is it? Over the past decade it's been one of most promising emerging economies - it's even the T in MINT - tipped by some as the four to watch. CCLA's James Bevan has concerns about the impact on international fund flows. (SOUNDBITE) (English): JAMES BEVAN, CIO, CCLA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, SAYING: "What one has to observe as being the real problem area is where there is a current account deficit and a capital account deficit and where one is therefore likely to see high interest rates to maintain value within the currency. That to me probably spells more trouble for Turkey and probably, for me, South Africa." Erdogan has already weathered mass protests and a corruption scandal. But his AK Party still dominated polls in March. And he's still expected to stand in August's presidential election. Alastair Newton is a political risk expert at Nomura. (SOUNDBITE) (English): ALASTAIR NEWTON, SENIOR POLITICAL RISK ANALYST, NOMURA, SAYING: "I still think at this stage that Prime Minister Erdogan will still run for President in August and will likely emerge as the winner of the Presidential election given the difficulty the opposition parties are likely to have uniting behind a single credible candidate to run against him which I think would be a pre-condition of a serious challenge to his pre-eminence in Turkish politics." The response to the disaster could be key. Finding those still trapped the main focus for now.

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Turkey rocked by mine disaster

Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 02:15