Justin Vela

Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Zorlu targets renewables and coal over gas // Platts

leave a comment »

Published by Platts Energy in East Europe / ISSUE 264 / May 3, 2013

Justin Vela, Istanbul

Turkish independent power producer Zorlu Enerji is focusing its investments in renewables and coal to create a more balanced generation mix and reduce the impact of rising gas prices on its gas heavy portfolio. The third biggest of five electricity producers listed on the Istanbul Stock Exchange, Zorlu Enerji saw its operational profit eroded in 2012 for the second year running by gas prices rising faster than electricity prices.

The energy arm of the Zorlu Group posted a net profit of TRY 589 million last year on the back of a 19.9% rise in revenues to TRY 525 million but only because of a one- off gain of TRY 756 million from a reversal of losses as a result of the transfer of its stake in its Russian gas- fired power plant venture Rosmiks to its parent company last December. It was still a major improvement on 2011, when it reported a net loss of TRY 407 million.

“We don’t build our strategy only on gas prices, but focus on long term strategy in a broader perspective,” Ali Kindap, the company’s deputy general manager told Platts in an interview. With a goal to more than double its installed capacity at home and abroad to 1,500 MW by 2017, Zorlu is doing its best to “meet increasing energy demand in Turkey and globally in a rational and environmentally compliant manner,” said Sinan Ak, the company’s chief executive.

Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Justin Vela

May 3, 2013 at 10:20 am

Southern Turkey a “rear base” for Syrian rebels + other stories…

leave a comment »

In July, I spent several weeks working on a series of stories along the Turkey-Syria border.

Most of these stories were published by The National and described how southern Turkey is being used by the Syrian opposition as a kind of rear base to rest, buy weapons, and treat the wounded.

A fighter from the Free Syrian Army sauntered into the front yard of a run-down home on the Turkey-Syria border where his friends, three families of Syrian refugees, were living. Wearing a black shirt and camouflage trousers, he was on a mission: to wash his laundry.

Read more

For a full list of these articles please see the July section of my “Recent Work” page.

During my time at the border I also met Thwaiba Kanafani, a Canadian-Syrian woman who said she had joined the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA). While Ms. Kanafani continues to pop up in the media, she herself admitted that FSA officers in Turkey had decided to stop working with her under rather shocking circumstances that I detailed in the Globe and Mail.

Her adventure, when it unravelled, unravelled quickly. On Monday, she won a post as a communications co-ordinator on a Free Syrian Army (FSA) committee at a Syrian refugee camp. That lasted barely three days. By midday Thursday, Ms. Kanafani was expelled from the council because of suspicion over her motives. “I left them,” she said. “I am not working with them any more because they say I am an Israeli spy.”

Read more

An FSA flag hanging in a hotel room in Antakya, Turkey in July 2012.

An Syrian rebel flag hanging in a hotel room in Antakya, Turkey in July 2012.


Written by Justin Vela

August 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm

New work out on Turkey

leave a comment »

Istanbul- In the past few weeks I’ve slowed down a bit. There’s been a lot of changes, including a move from Istanbul’s Cukurcuma neighborhood to Galata and a general need for some R&R.

All that is settled now and I’ve had three new articles published this month on Turkey.

Turkey’s ruling control freaks reports on an overlooked government decree by which independent financial commissions and boards established to disperse power were attached to government ministries.

The whole issues smacks of “the government knows best,” say analysts – a defining characteristic of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which appears to believe in its own infallibility after ushering in a new era of stability and growth during its eight years in power. 

Read the full article here 

I also have articles out on conscientious objectors and healthcare tourism in Turkey.

Written by Justin Vela

September 19, 2011 at 10:12 am

Personal best 2010…

leave a comment »

ISTANBUL-It is the end of a year that began for me in Jerusalem and ended in Istanbul. Below is a personal selection of my top articles and unpublished photos from 2010. This year I worked in: Israel/Palestinian Territories, Finland, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Turkey, Iraq, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia. Click here for a list of my published work from 2010. Next year I plan to continue this energy with a continued focus on Turkey, the country where I am based, and break some new ground further afield. My most regular work from Turkey can be found with AOL News. I also cover Southeast Europe and Turkey in a daily list of political and economic news produced for Business New Europe (bne) magazine that is e-mailed out to subscribers.

I wish you a prosperous 2011!

A pin worn by members of the Unity of Soviet Officers organization in Sevastopol, Ukraine.

Crimea Watch, covering the Ukrainian election from the so-called “flashpoint” city of Sevastopol.

Latvia: An Angry, Whimpering Baltic Tiger, returning to a country I inadvertently spent a good deal of time in since 2005, I describe the effects of Latvia’s economic bust.

The Ketola ostrich farm in Rajamaki, Finland in February 2010.

A Quest for Finnish Ostriches, finally I get what’s coming to me from a flock of Finnish ostriches.

Protests in Istanbul, Turkey after Israeli commandos boarded a humanitarian flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in the ensuing struggle.

Gaza flotilla attack: Autopsies reveal intensity of Israeli military force, reporting on the Mavi Marmara crisis between Turkey and Israel.

The mother of a PKK fighter who was allegedly killed by Turkish soldiers and his body mutilated wears the colors of the Kurdish flag at his funeral in Diyarbakir, Turkey on 5 July 2010.

Turkey’s dual cause in northern Iraq, Turkey’s attempts to influence Kurdish northern Iraq, includes an interview with PKK top commander Murat Karayilan.

Secularists forge indelible link to Ataturk, a popular tattoo expresses many Turk’s allegiance to its founder and opposition to the ruling government.

Helsinki data centre to heat homes, a truly great idea, a database center heats homes in cold Helsinki.

Does Hess’ Deportation Mean Turkey’s Tough on Journalists?, A U.S. activist/journalist gets deported from Turkey during a year which sees the country’s press freedom takes a dive.

On 19 September 2010 the Turkish-Armenian Orthodox Church held the first service in 95 years at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Akdamar Island. The controversial mass was marked by the refusal of Turkish authorities to place a cross a top the cathedral before the service.

Hopes and Frustrations Mark Lake Van Mass, Turkey allows Armenians to hold a mass in an ancient church, but withholds proper placement of the cross.

Serbia’s Sandzak at odds with Belgrade, in a long-form article I describe the conflict in Serbia’s Sandzak region, incorporating a previous visit in 2008.

As the global Muslim population grows, businesses in Turkey and across Europe are seeking to capitalize on the so-called "international Muslim lifestyle market." Photographed for bne magazine.

Turkey fashions a slice of the international Muslim lifestyle market, The world’s Muslim population is growing, making them a very attractive consumer market.

Written by Justin Vela

December 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Posted in Europe, The Middle East, turkey

Tagged with , , ,

Not just the PKK want to do the AKP harm…

leave a comment »

ISTANBUL -Please excuse the lack of posting lately.

I’ve been back in Turkey for more than a week after spending most of October in the Balkans.

Only a night after I returned a suicide bomber killed himself and injured 32 others in Istanbul’s Taxsim Square, only a few minutes walk from my flat.

You can read my article on the suicide bombing here

These types of attacks are not common in Turkey. When bombs do go off in Istanbul they generally happen in the outskirts. Suicide bombings are even more rare. There was uncertainty over who carried out the attack for several days before Turkish authorities announced the bomber had joined the PKK in 2004. A few days later the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) claimed responsibility for the attack.

TAK also carried out a June bus bombing in Istanbul that left five people dead. I wrote about that attack for the Guardian here. Turkish media was already blaming Kurdish rebels for the more recent attack before Taxsim was reopened. Yet there was more ambiguity from the government and even a vendor I interviewed who saw the attack did not immediately blame Kurds.

“Some forces do not want Turkey to be in peace,” Kaya said. “Maybe they wanted to frighten the government. It may be related to the Ergenekon trials or may be just because they wanted to terrorize people and generate fear. They might think that the government should come to harm.”

What does this mean?

The ruling AKP has been successful in making people believe that there are more people than the PKK that would like to damage the Turkish government. Turks do not have difficulty believing that it is not only the PKK that wants to harm AKP.

Written by Justin Vela

November 9, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Europe, turkey

Tagged with , , , , ,

New article on Western missile defense…previous articles on the topic…

leave a comment »

Belgrade- Yesterday, Aol News published a piece from me on Turkey’s reservations regarding Western missile defense.

NATO makes decisions through consensus with all 28 members of the alliance, so Turkey’s reservations have the potential to frustrate the plans for missile defense, one of the most difficult-to-implement elements of Western defense.

Read the full article here

I’ve written about the proposed missile defense system in the past here and here

Written by Justin Vela

October 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Europe

Tagged with , , , , , , , ,

In Belgrade, Serbia…current contact info…new work…No confidence in Romania…

leave a comment »

Belgrade- +381 63 72 58591

The above is my current contact information. I can also be reached at justin@justinvela.com

I’ve got some new work out on the current crisis in Romania.

Romania is currently embroiled in its worst economic crisis since the fall of communism. The economy contracted 7% last year and, despite slight second-quarter growth, is expected to contract further by the end of the year. The depth of the government’s unpopularity was illustrated at the end of September when Bucharest was hit by a series of protests over the austerity measures dictated by the terms of a €20bn loan provided by the IMF, EU and World Bank. “The background of those protests are represented by those poor economic conditions and the economic situation,” says Calin Veghes of the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies.

Read the entire article here

Written by Justin Vela

October 19, 2010 at 8:10 am

Posted in Europe

Tagged with , , , , ,