An agreement valued at $26 million for the local production of 20 millimetre and 25 millimetre ammunition under licence from France’s GIAT Industries has been reached by the French company with state Machinery & Chemical Industry (MKEK), local press reports say. The project to manufacture ammunition for armoured combat vehicles will be implemented under existing offset agreements with France at a government-to-government level, the reports add.

Outstanding domestic debt at the end of 1996 totalled TL 3,149 million million ($29,200 million at end-1996 exchange rates), up by 131.4 per cent from end-1995, the treasury says. Annualised inflation in 1996 was 85 per cent. Of the total debt-stock, treasury bills with less than a year’s maturity accounted for TL 1,528 million million ($14,188 million) and treasury bonds with a year or longer maturity for TL 1,250 million million ($11,607 million).

The cabinet agreed on 13 March to implement a memorandum from the military seeking to curb Islamist activity. State Minister Lutfu Esengul said immediate action would be taken on some measures in the 18-point memorandum, but others, requiring legislation, would have to be put before parliament. Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan appeared to have taken advice to give way to the military from Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Tansu Ciller and other ministers from her True Path Party (DYP), junior partner in the coalition with Erbakan’s Islamist Welfare Party (Refah). The apparent climb-down has eased the military-Islamist standoff, but doubts remain about the coalition’s cohesion, observers say. (MEED 14:3:97).

Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom says it is seeking $3,000 million in financing, mainly from European banks, for the full cost of a planned underwater gas pipeline linking Russia and Turkey via the Black Sea. The aim is to start delivering 3,000 million cubic metres of gas in 2000, rising to 16,000 million cubic metres by 2010, Gazprom board member Vladimir Rezunenko said on 19 March after attending a briefing on the project in Ankara (see Cover Story).