Diplomacy
The European Union should spend more than the 6 billion euros already allotted to fund Syrian refugees in Turkey, and speed up the flow of that money, said Faruk Kaymakcı, the Turkish deputy minister for foreign affairs. “As long as the crisis is there we have to work together. The 6 billion euros will not solve the problem when it is finally all spent,” Kaymakcı told reporters in Istanbul on Dec. 14.
Turkey has repatriated four more foreign national militants to the U.K., the Interior Ministry said. The ministry did not specify which group the fighters belonged to, but in recent months the ministry has been stressing the return of ISIS militants.
Turkey's foreign ministry has summoned the U.S. ambassador in Ankara over a resolution passed by U.S. lawmakers recognizing the mass killings of Armenians a century ago as a genocide. The ministry has voiced Turkey's strong criticism of the resolution to David Satterfield.
The U.S. Senate has approved a resolution recognizing early 20th century killings of Armenians as “genocide.” Turkey condemned the measure, with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu saying that the U.S. Senate's move “is not legally binding and has no validity.”
The installation process of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems is expected be completed by the spring of 2020, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said. Akar also said Turkey is in dialogue with its NATO allies, particularly the U.S., to work a solution to the matter.
A U.S. Senate committee voted on Dec. 11 to advance a sanctions bill against Turkey for its offensive in northeastern Syria and purchase of a Russian missile defense system. The Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by 18-4 to send the "Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act of 2019" for a vote in the full Senate.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continued to slam the Nobel academy for the second day, calling it a "vampire community" for awarding Peter Handke. "The fact that the Nobel gave the award to this representative of the vampire intelligentsia group shows that a vampire community was formed," Erdoğan said, while also praising Aziz Sancar and Orhan Pamuk in his speech.
A Turkish court ruled on Dec. 11 to keep U.S. consulate employee Metin Topuz in jail as his trial on espionage charges continues. Topuz is accused of having links to the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Russia, Turkey and Iran are concerned about the increased presence of terrorist groups in Syria's Idlib province, the trio said in a joint statement after talks in Kazakhstan, pledging to coordinate actions aimed at eliminating the militants. Moscow, Ankara and Tehran "highlighted the necessity to establish calm on the ground," the trio said in a joint statement after the talks, also attended by representatives of the Damascus government and the Syrian armed opposition.
Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu has said that Ankara may reconsider İncirlik's status if the U.S. Congress imposes sanctions on the country amid the rift between two NATO allies over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 systems. The minister also said that Turkey had a constructive approach towards the U.S. on the issue, adding that the Congress needs to understand that they can't achieve anything through imposition.
The United States has barred a former Saudi diplomat from entering the country over his alleged role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mohammed al Otaibi was serving as the Saudi consul general in Istanbul when Khashoggi was killed there.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said during an interview that he would agree to meet with Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdoğan only if such a meeting would serve the “interests of Syria.” Assad also said that he was expecting Turkey to leave the Syrian lands in the long-term.
Turkey and Greece are at odds over a host of issues but Turkey's recent maritime territory deal with Libya has raised the stakes further in an escalating battle for resources in the Mediterranean Sea. But, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' national security adviser Alexandros Diakopoulos believes that there is no risk of armed conflict between Ankara and Athens.
President Erdoğan has slammed the Nobel academy over awarding Peter Handke, as he went on to criticize it for handing the award to a Turkish "terrorist" in the past. While the only Nobel laureate from Turkey is novelist Orhan Pamuk, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said that Erdoğan didn't mean Pamuk in his speech, adding that he meant the names known with their anti-Turkey stance and terrorist acts nominated or awarded by Nobel or other international institutions.
U.S. lawmakers announced an agreement on Dec. 9 on a $738-billion bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, calling for sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the S-400s. The NDAA prohibits the transfer of F-35 stealth fighter jets, which Lockheed Martin Corp is developing, to Turkey. It expresses a Sense of Congress that Turkey's acquisition of Russia's S-400s constitutes a significant transaction under U.S. sanctions law.
Book Review
In April 1957 US Ambassador Fletcher Warren burst into Prime minister Menderes’s cabinet meeting to try and prevent him from taking military action in Syria. Menderes had to make a hard choice. This is one of the more dramatic moments in Egemen Bezci’s new book Turkish Intelligence and the Cold War: The Turkish Secret Service, the US and the UK. Ambassador Warren’s intervention in Menderes’s cabinet meeting is one of those rare instances where the murky web of Cold War intelligence gathering, influence and diplomacy burst into the open.
Politics
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Turkey violated the rights of prominent philanthropist, businessman and human rights activist Osman Kavala, urging the country to free him immediately. The court on Dec. 10 ruled that Kavala's right to liberty and security, right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of detention and the limitation on use of restrictions on rights were violated.
A U.S. Senate committee voted on Dec. 11 to advance a sanctions bill against Turkey for its offensive in northeastern Syria and purchase of a Russian missile defense system. The Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by 18-4 to send the "Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act of 2019" for a vote in the full Senate.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continued to slam the Nobel academy for the second day, calling it a "vampire community" for awarding Peter Handke. "The fact that the Nobel gave the award to this representative of the vampire intelligentsia group shows that a vampire community was formed," Erdoğan said, while also praising Aziz Sancar and Orhan Pamuk in his speech.
U.S. lawmakers announced an agreement on Dec. 9 on a $738-billion bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, calling for sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the S-400s. The NDAA prohibits the transfer of F-35 stealth fighter jets, which Lockheed Martin Corp is developing, to Turkey. It expresses a Sense of Congress that Turkey's acquisition of Russia's S-400s constitutes a significant transaction under U.S. sanctions law.
Google has revealed the top items searched in Turkey, with contested Istanbul mayoral elections topping the list, while the name that was searched the most was Emine Bulut, who was stabbed to death by her ex-husband in front of her 10-year-old daughter. The most popular search for "TV Shows" was "Mucize Doktor," while the most Googled song was "Derdim Olsun" by Turkish rapper Reynmen.
The United States has barred a former Saudi diplomat from entering the country over his alleged role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mohammed al Otaibi was serving as the Saudi consul general in Istanbul when Khashoggi was killed there.
Turkey's top court has ruled for rights violation in a case into the wounding of a protester with a tear gas canister shot by police during Gezi Park protests. "The force used against the applicant can't be said to be necessary because public officials can't prove that the applicant was not peaceful," the court said, while also ruling for Şahin to be paid 20,000 Turkish Liras as compensation.
Ceren Özdemir, a 20-year-old university student, was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant in the Black Sea province of Ordu on Dec. 4 - becoming one of the hundreds of women killed by men in the country. Violence against women is in grave levels in Turkey, with at least 430 women killed in the past 11 months, according to the statistics shared by We Will Stop Femicide Platform.
Russia, Turkey and Iran are concerned about the increased presence of terrorist groups in Syria's Idlib province, the trio said in a joint statement after talks in Kazakhstan, pledging to coordinate actions aimed at eliminating the militants. Moscow, Ankara and Tehran "highlighted the necessity to establish calm on the ground," the trio said in a joint statement after the talks, also attended by representatives of the Damascus government and the Syrian armed opposition.
Turkey's Press Advertisement Institution has been blocking the ads of opposition dailies Evrensel and Birgün in a move that journalists describe as an attempt to silence critical media. "They are carrying out a system that aims to eliminate the newspapers as a whole," Birgün Board Chairman İbrahim Aydın told Duvar, while Evrensel Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat said that the press institution has been implementing a systematical siege on the newspapers critical of the government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Turkey on Jan. 8 for talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said, adding that the TurkStream natural gas pipeline will be opened by both leaders during the visit. The two leaders will also be able to discuss other issues at talks which are likely to be held in the Turkish city of Istanbul.
The Istanbul-based Freedom of Expression Association has said in a recently prepared report that while the number of websites and domains blocked in Turkey was 80,553 as of 2015, this figure went up to 288,310 as of October 2019. The report said that the Internet censorship in Turkey has reached an "astonishing level."
Turkey has scored below average on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 report, the results of which were released on Tuesday. 6,890 15-year-old students in Turkey took the PISA test, and the country placed 31st out of 37.
A Turkish court ruled on Dec. 11 to keep U.S. consulate employee Metin Topuz in jail as his trial on espionage charges continues. Topuz is accused of having links to the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu has said that Ankara may reconsider İncirlik's status if the U.S. Congress imposes sanctions on the country amid the rift between two NATO allies over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 systems. The minister also said that Turkey had a constructive approach towards the U.S. on the issue, adding that the Congress needs to understand that they can't achieve anything through imposition.
Turkey will import horse and donkey meat from Sudan as part of the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement that was approved in parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission last week. Some 500 tons of horse, donkey and mule meat, as well as 500 tons of animal giblets, including those of the aforementioned animals, will be imported from Sudan without Turkey implementing any customs tariffs.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has praised former media mogul Aydın Doğan, while thanking him on behalf of the country and the people. Doğan, who founded and ran Doğan Holding until 2010 and is currently the honorary chairman of the conglomerate, had a rocky relationship with Erdoğan before selling the company's media arm to pro-government Demirören Holding in 2018. "In addition to being a successful businessman, he is a good culture and arts man," Erdoğan said.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu was favored more than President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a recent poll about a potential presidential election. "If a general election was held today," 31.9 percent said they would vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) while 24.7 percent would vote for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
Economics
Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) found 11 different models of smart phones and radio phones to be unsafe. Xiaomi, KAAN and BB Mobile are amongst the companies whose products failed inspections.
In an attempt to lower costs, Turkish Airlines will no longer offer rakı, gin or vodka on short flights. On international flights over six hours, THY will only offer one brand of whiskey in economy class.
The Turkish economy grew by 0.4 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous quarter on seasonal and calendar adjusted basis, the Turkish Statistical Institute said on Dec. 2. Compared with the same quarter of 2018, the Turkish economy expanded by 0.9 percent, the agency said.
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has denied criticism regarding the budget not being spent for the public, saying that some 333,9 billion Turkish Liras are paid as salaries and social security premium payments for 3,4 million public employees. When asked about the reason for why the 853,8 billion lira tax revenue target that was determined for 2019 was not met, Albayrak pointed to tax rate discounts that were made to "support economic revival and the fight against inflation."
Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has signed an annual sponsorship contract with Spain's popular soccer team Real Madrid. The team will be paid 12 million euros annually to wear Turkey-related visuals on their jerseys.
Morgan Stanley is reportedly investigating suspected mismarking of securities to conceal losses of as much as $140 million in a portfolio handled day-to-day by London-based Scott Eisner, a 2014 Yale University graduate and associate at the firm. The wager was claimed to be tied to the Turkish lira, a currency that whipsawed investors in 2018 and earlier in 2019 amid mounting political tensions.
Turkey saw a 10.56 percent annual hike in consumer prices in November, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) said on Dec. 3. Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said "a little" increase took place, as he commented on the double-digit figures.
The latest unemployment figures, pertaining to the month of August, were released on Nov. 15 by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜIK) indicating that unemployment increased 2.9 percent from the same month in the previous year, reaching 14 percent.
Car sales have dropped below the market expectations of 600 yearly sales, which might force dealerships to shrink operations or even close. As a result of the economic crisis, the industry average for yearly sales had dropped from 1 million to 620 thousand last year, and are expected to drop further to 470 thousand.
Urban Beat
Istanbul Municipality is hiring two Kurdish-speaking instructors for Kurdish lessons at the Arts and Professional Training Center. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu met with graduates of the Kurdish Language and Literature department in August and said that the city would be offering Kurdish lessons and nursing services in Kurdish.
The founder and head chef of Anatolian restaurant Çiya won the highest cookbook award with his book Turkish Cookbook. Musa Dağdeviren won the Gourmand award, which is considered the equivalent of a Nobel for cookbooks. The book was published by world-renowned publishing house Phaidon.
Referencing a recent lavish baby blessing ceremony that sparked significant controversy, Islamist opposition Felicity Party (SP) Women's Branch President Ebru Asıltürk said that a recent wave of crazy consumption has negatively affected conservatives in Turkey. "We all must refrain from waste and showing off," she told.
The district of Didim in Turkey's Western Anatolian province of Aydın made an official decision on December 4 that stipulated they would not allow animals under the protection of the municipality to be sent to experimental laboratories. In Turkey there are already licensed and official institutions that breed animals for experimental purposes.
Sarp Palaur, known by the stage name Şanışer, on Dec. 4 took part as a panelist in a discussion organized by the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C. He said that his viral rap song named "Susamam" (I can't stay silent) is not only about the problems existing in Turkey, but all over the world.
Renowned Turkish actor Haluk Bilginer received an International Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor for his role in Şahsiyet, in which he plays Agah Beyoğlu - a serial killer diagnosed with Alzheimer's who will eventually lose all his memories. "Be sure that the society we're living in doesn't experience memory loss," Bilginer said in the ceremony.
Recent figures released by Turkey's Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning indicate that several Istanbul neighborhoods exceed the acceptable limit for the pm10 pollutant several times over.