Diplomacy
The interim secretary-general of the World Council of Churches, Ioan Sauca, has penned a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to express his “grief and dismay” over Turkey's decision to change the status of Istanbul's landmark Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque. "I am obliged to convey to you the grief and dismay of the World Council of Churches – and of its 350 member churches in more than 110 countries, representing more than half a billion Christians around the world – at the step you have just taken," Sauca said.
Pope Francis said on July 12 he was hurt by Turkey's decision to make Istanbul's Hagia Sophia museum a mosque, the latest religious leader to condemn the move.
Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president who is now the Democratic presidential nominee, has called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to reverse the decision on Hagia Sophia, urging him to “instead keep this treasured place in its current status as a museum, ensuring equal access for all.”
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has expressed its support for the Turkish government's decision to convert Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque. "Opening of Hagia Sophia to prayer is a proud moment for all Muslims," said Hamas in a written statement.
Turkey's conversion of iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque has prompted criticism in the international arena. The United States, the European Union, Greece, UNESCO and Russian Orthodox Church were among those to express concern about Ankara's move.
The recent introduction of the Turkish Lira in towns of northern Syrian constitutes the final step in an assimilation policy enforced by Ankara in the region, journalist and Middle East expert Bereket Kar said. Reports have shown that cash and coins were brought in through the Turkish postal service (PTT).
The European Parliament held a debate entitled “Stability and Security in the Mediterranean and the negative role of Turkey” on July 9. Several MEPs called for a complete end to accessions talks with Turkey, saying the country should no longer receive payments from the EU budget as part of pre-accession support.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said on July 8 that neighboring Turkey must suspend its recent offensive against alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and disputed territories of Iraq. Salih “reiterated that Turkey has to suspend its military violations on the Iraqi soil."
Turkey has voiced discontent with the United States' decision to provide International Military Education and Training (IMET) to Greek Cypriot soldiers in accordance with the 2020 fiscal year appropriations act. "This and similar steps do not contribute to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue, but on the contrary, lead to strengthening the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot side," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
Four U.S. senators have penned a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying that Turkey's expulsion from the F-35 supply chain needs to be expedited, regardless of what the cost is. They said that the Defense Department's delay regarding the matter “has undermined the effectiveness of our clear message to the Turks.”
Russia and Turkey are working on an immediate ceasefire agreement for the conflict in Libya, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on July 8. Lavrov said LNA is ready to sign a ceasefire document and hopes that Turkey will manage to convince the country's internationally recognised GNA to do the same.
Turkey tested Russian-made S-400 air defense systems on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in November 2019, a source close to the Turkish defense industry told TASS on July 7. "Yes, such trials have indeed taken place last November," the source told TASS when asked to comment on several media reports.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Ankara would be forced to respond to the European Union if the bloc adopts additional measures against Turkey. "We see that Turkey will be on the agenda of the Commission meeting and summit because of a number of countries, including France. Adopting decisions against Turkey won't solve problems, but deepen them," he said.
Patriarch Kirill, the leader of Russia's Orthodox Church, said on July 6 that calls to convert Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into a mosque posed a threat to Christianity. "A threat against Hagia Sophia is a threat to all of Christian civilization, meaning [a threat to] our spirituality and history," Patriarch Kirill said in a statement.
Warplanes struck overnight at an airbase that was recently recaptured by Libya's internationally recognized government from eastern forces with help from Turkey, a military source with the eastern forces and a resident nearby said. A resident at the nearby town of Zintan said explosions were heard from the direction of the base.
Editor's Picks
Mois Gabay writes: In my childhood years, I remember wandering in the streets of Beyoğlu alongside my father. Pera was living its last days. At the end of the street near the French Consulate, lay “Tailor Ragıp.” Mr. Ragıp was famous for making trousers that would fit you perfectly. Tailor Blum had trained him.
İslam Özkan writes: Rather than dividing it, it appears that Turkey’s strategy and polarizing policies in Libya have contributed to unifying the enemy camp. Though the attack against the al-Wattiyah airbase did not inflict huge damage on Turkey’s air defense system, Turkey’s efforts in Libya will likely get harder in the future.
Ülkü Doğanay writes: Maybe in January 2016, if the former prime minister, who now resents his colleagues and who kept quiet before the events regarding Şehir University, had remembered that he was also an academic benefiting from free expression, then universities may not have been in the dark position they are in today.
Politics
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Turkey has been declining steadily since June 25, but cautioned the public not to flout measures in place to stem the spread of the virus. "Let's not forget that these decreases [in case numbers] are happening slowly, whereas increases are happening suddenly," he said.
Turkey's Human Rights Association (İHD) has called for the release of Eylem Oyunlu, who is currently behind bars in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on charges of 'assisting a terror organization' with her two young children. Oyunlu's 3-week-old baby is suffering from a blocked tear duct and the two-year-old has chronic bronchitis.
A non-governmental women's platform urged the government to stop proceedings on a legal amendment that would grant amnesty to sexual predators. The platform also urged the government to not consider recusing from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty against domestic violence and violence against children.
Turkey's media watchdog issued 73 percent of broadcast interruption fines to the same four news broadcasters that are critical of the government, a report by non-governmental organization Transparency International revealed.
84 percent of Turkish citizens expect a second wave of the novel coronavirus epidemic, based on the results of a survey conducted from June 29-July 2 among more than 2,000 people in all of the country’s 81 provinces. 90 percent of people surveyed indicated that the virus had negatively impacted Turkey's economy.
The European Parliament held a debate entitled “Stability and Security in the Mediterranean and the negative role of Turkey” on July 9. Several MEPs called for a complete end to accessions talks with Turkey, saying the country should no longer receive payments from the EU budget as part of pre-accession support.
Turkey has voiced discontent with the United States' decision to provide International Military Education and Training (IMET) to Greek Cypriot soldiers in accordance with the 2020 fiscal year appropriations act. "This and similar steps do not contribute to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue, but on the contrary, lead to strengthening the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot side," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
A recent simulation by Istanbul Municipality revealed the southern suburbs of the city to be the highest-risk areas in a potential earthquake. While the suburbs are located on both sides of the city, they're all placed alongside the southern Marmara Sea shoreline.
The Istanbul Convention, an international initiative that aims to combat domestic violence against women, has led to fractures within the ruling AKP as one of the party's lawmakers has said that she is puzzled why the convention has come under attack after so many years. AKP MP Canan Kalsın asked why the convention turned into a “scapegoat” nine years after it was signed in Istanbul.
Attending a demonstration can't be a proof of terrorist organization membership, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in the case of four applicants from Turkey. The applicants faced the said accusation for attending a demonstration in 2008, with the ECHR saying that their rights to freedom of assembly were violated.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to carry out a cabinet reshuffle and rearrange ministries. Erdoğan might part ways with three to four ministers, sources told Duvar, adding that two ministries, including the Family and Social Services Ministry, might be divided into two.
The police force of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) early on July 9 shot two Syrian refugees for attempting to run away after arriving at a beach on a boat. The TRNC police said that refugees continued to run away despite warning shots, and eventually they opened fire on them, injuring two.
A tender for hunting mountain goats in eastern Dersim was scheduled despite public outcry against it. Endemic to the Munzur Valley National Park, mountain goats are considered sacred among locals.
A parliamentary commission revealed that some 462 children in Turkey died under suspicious conditions in 2019. Police data showed that 21 children's deaths were suicides and 29 were the result of poisoning.
Four U.S. senators have penned a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying that Turkey's expulsion from the F-35 supply chain needs to be expedited, regardless of what the cost is. They said that the Defense Department's delay regarding the matter “has undermined the effectiveness of our clear message to the Turks.”
Turkey tested Russian-made S-400 air defense systems on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in November 2019, a source close to the Turkish defense industry told TASS on July 7. "Yes, such trials have indeed taken place last November," the source told TASS when asked to comment on several media reports.
The main opposition CHP’s proposal calling for an investigation into last week's deadly explosion at a Sakarya fireworks factory has been rejected by the votes of the AKP and MHP lawmakers.
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the country will soon start mass production of favipiravir, a drug used in COVID-19 treatment, as the licensing process is expected to be completed in a couple of days. Koca said that the country will sell it on the international market and also use it to treat its own coronaviurus patients.
Economy
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said that Turkey was an exception to the global financial crisis emerging in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The minister said that Turkey has been outperforming other countries in "all measures of economic success."
Foreign investment in Istanbul's stock exchange fell below 50 percent for the first time since 2004, daily Sözcü reported. Almost four billion dollars have reportedly been sold out of the exchange in the first six months of 2020.
Turkey's foreign trade deficit doubled between January and May as exports fell by 20 percent. The monthly trade deficit also doubled in May, surpassing $3 billion.
The Turkish Competition Authority has launched a probe into German automotive giants Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The authority's announcement on July 1 came as Volkswagen AG canceled plans to build a car factory in Turkey after the coronavirus pandemic jolted auto markets.
Urban Beat
Fossils discovered by a nature enthusiast in mountainous eastern province of Iğdır revealed that the area, now completely landlocked, used to be a shore and underwater. The fossils contained palm leaves, which grow in hot areas by the water.
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry will be turning the iconic Galata Tower into a museum. The ministry will also launch a "culture route" that spans from the tower, along Istiklal Avenue and to Taksim Square. Minister Ersoy also said that the construction of the AKM would be completed within a month, ongoing since February 2019.
The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) likened railroads and highways in Turkey's capital Ankara to arteries in an eagle-eye shot of the city at night, dubbed "photo of the day" on June 28.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on June 25 announced that the municipality purchased a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II at a London auction. According to the London-based world-famous Christie's auction house, the municipality's winning bid amounted to £770,000 ($955,000) for the oil painting, which is believed to be the work of Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.