Diplomacy
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 18 Turkey was saddened by news that Libya's internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj wants to quit next month. "A development like this, hearing such news, has been upsetting for us," Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul, adding that Turkish delegations may hold talks with Sarraj's government in the coming week.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey recalled Oruç Reis from disputed waters to allow for diplomacy with Greece. "Let's give diplomacy a chance, let's put forth a positive approach for diplomacy. Greece should also positively meet this approach of ours, and let's take a step accordingly," Erdoğan said in Istanbul after Friday prayers. "This is why we did it," he added.
Members of the European Parliament on Sept. 17 adopted a resolution calling on Turkey to "immediately end any further illegal exploration and drilling activities" in the Eastern Mediterranean. The resolution also urges sanctions against Turkey over its energy research in the region, unless the country shows "sincere cooperation and concrete progress" in easing tensions with Greece and Cyprus. The Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed the resolution, saying that it was a "biased decision."
Members of the European Parliament have called on Turkey to "end any further illegal exploration and drilling activities" in the eastern Mediterranean in a press release issued on Sept. 17. MEPs said that Turkey should "refrain from violating Greek airspace and Greek and Cypriot territorial waters and stop nationalistic warmongering rhetoric."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sept 16 that the Eastern Mediterranean crisis could be resolved through negotiations as long as European states adopt a "constructive approach, based on fairness."
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said on Sept. 16 that nothing could justify Turkey's intimidation of Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean in a dispute over energy resources. "Turkey is and will always be an important neighbour. But while we are close together on the map, the distance between us appears to be growing," she said.
Some 350 Turkish and Greek women, primarily academics, intellectuals and actors, have signed a petition calling for an “end” to the dangerous escalation between the two countries. “The rhetoric of conflict and potential conflicts threaten not only the security of the citizens of both countries but also the entire region. As women, we are saying ‘stop’ to this dangerous acceleration,” the women said in their statement.
Turkish Ambassador Volkan Bozkır officially assumed the presidency of UN General Assembly on Sept. 15 for its 75th session. In remarks at UN headquarters as he closed the 74th session of the General Assembly, Bozkır said the group has urgent priorities, including tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "Unilateralism will only strengthen the pandemic. It will move us further away from our shared goal," he said.
U.N.-backed investigators have said that possible war crimes, including hostage-taking, torture and rape, may have been committed by the so-called Syrian National Army, a coalition of Turkey-backed rebel groups in Syria. The investigators have called on Turkey to do more to prevent these abuses and ensure the protection of civilians in the areas under its control.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said that the European Union’s relationship with Turkey is at a turning point, urging the Turkish government to back down from conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean and uphold basic human rights in the country. Ties “are at a watershed moment in history, which will go to one side or the other, depending on what happens in the next days,” Borrell told the European Parliament on Sept. 15.
Prof. Yasin Aktay, a chief advisor to Erdoğan, has said that there is "rapprochement and contact" between Turkey and Egypt. "I don't have exact information, but from what I'm hearing and seeing, there's rapprochement and contact between the sides," Aktay said, adding that actual contact is needed "despite the differences" between Erdoğan and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
One aid worker was killed and another was wounded in an attack on a vehicle belonging to the Turkish Red Crescent in northern Syria on Sept. 14. Turkish Red Crescent head Kerem Kınık condemned the attack, saying that the vehicle was clearly carrying the organization's amblem. Turkish Defense Ministry also offered its condolences, saying that works are ongoing to apprehend "the terrorists responsible for the attack."
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Turkey does not expect to face European Union sanctions over a dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean. Çavuşoğlu repeated Turkey was open to talks without pre-conditions, but added that the seismic research vessel Oruç Reis will soon resume operations after it anchored off Turkey's southern coast on Sept. 13.
Turkey said early on Sept. 14 that the United States needed to return to a neutral stance on Cyprus. "We invite the U.S. to return to the neutrality policy it traditionally follows on the island of Cyprus and to contribute to the efforts aimed at the solution of the Cyprus issue," Turkey's Foreign Ministry said.
Turkey's main opposition CHP has deemed the return of seismic research vessel Oruç Reis to its base in Antalya "a compromise," while also calling on the government to "not make compromises in our rightful cause" following an extraordinary meeting on the escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Editor's Picks
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Vural Özdemir writes: A smirk is invariably political and never innocent. Smirk undermines democratic practices and human rights. Let’s bear in mind that oppression is sometimes enacted upon us in the form of a smirk.
Politics
Merkez İlaç CEO Mehmet Şapçı has told Health Minister Fahrettin Koca that most of the sanitizers used in hospitals are fake. According to Şapçı, these fake products have around 3.3 percent povidone-iodine, whereas the standard is at 10 percent. He also named the fake products in the letter he sent to the minister.
In a not-so-veiled message to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan has said that although the top court is open to criticism of its decisions, remarks which focus on judges and "go beyond criticism will not bring any benefit.” Arslan's comments came after he was targeted by Soylu over the top court's decision to permit inter-city demonstrations and marches.
A report prepared annually by the Hrant Dink Foundation showed that Armenians were the most targeted group in hate speech in Turkish media in 2019. According to the report, there were 5,515 instances of hate speech in local and national media and 803 of them targeted Armenians. Syrian refugees followed Armenians with 760 instances, Greeks ranked third with 754 and Jews were targeted 676 times.
Turkey's premier petrochemical company Petkim has been involved in illegal oil business with Syria, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Files, which said that Petkim and its associate Petrokim completed over $90 million in "suspicious transactions" between March 2010 and January 2016.
Handan Bul, a 23-year-old woman was shot dead by a coworker she turned down in the western province of Bilecik. The 30-year-old assailant, Yusuf Uğur also shot and killed himself on site.
After the suspicious death of Kurdish soldier Mustafa Araz in the province of Kırklareli in May was ruled a suicide by military officials, Araz's family has stated that they believe their son was murdered. The family also disputes that the suicide note which was added to his file actually belongs to Mustafa Araz.
A young man is offering unique codes provided by the government to visitors of the Diyarbakır Courthouse, as the codes are required to enter public buildings. Initially created as a traveling precaution during the pandemic, HES codes are available online, but not everyone knows g-how to get them, the young man said.
The HDP has conducted an online meeting with representatives from 26 EU member states regarding Turkey-EU relations, human rights, and the Kurdish issue. HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan said that the EU needs to take a more consistent stance against Turkey's "increasingly authoritarian government."
The founders of private Altınbaş University were detained on charges of fraud in Istanbul. The brothers allegedly reported buying boat fuel to benefit from tax exemptions regarding marine transportation.
An Ankara court has ruled for the continuation of imprisonment of former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ on charges related to 2014 Kobane riots. The Kobane investigation was launched in 2014 and reopened in 2019, and has failed to produce an indictment for Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ since. Lawyer Levent Kanat has said that new charges were brought against the politicians over the same incident to make sure that they remain in prison.
Heavy machinery entered the sacred Alevi grounds of Munzur Springs in eastern Dersim, despite promises from the governor's office that landscaping in the area wouldn't involve construction machinery. The state-run project will reportedly cost eight million liras, and was allegedly approved by a natural resources protection board.
Future Party chairman Ahmet Davutoğlu has said that the party will nominate its own presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, amid rumors that opposition parties are contemplating of coalescing behind a joint candidate. Davutoğlu said that although Future Party is open to cooperation with other parties concerning various issues, it still aims for the rulership on its own.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has announced that its 72nd Great Congress will no longer be held at CerModern, but instead at Bilkent Hotel. The change came after CerModern notified the TTB that it could not meet the COVID-19-related safety guidelines designated by the Ankara Governor's Office.
Run by Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), the Islamic Research Center (İSAM) has seen a 600-percent increase in its budget over the last 16 years. Known for holding a symposium about Islamic fatwas on medical issues, the foundation is chaired by a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
A group of health workers in Ankara had to barricade the door of an emergency room when loved ones of a patient wanted to push their way in to see the deceased gunshot victim. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that the workers had been afraid of a violent attack, as health workers in Turkey are often targeted by patients' families.
Turkey's Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK) got into a brawl with an actor over a complaint from an 11-year-old viewer who said the actor's show "affected him a lot." After RTÜK shared the message on social media, the actor protested the council's reporting of his show to the public.
Climate activists who have been living in western Kaz Mountains in protest of destructive mining activities were detained as gendarmerie raided their campsite on Sept. 22. One activist said that the detentions were prompted by the wishes of Cengiz Holding, a company known for their close ties to Ankara who recently signed a tender for mining in the Kaz Mountains.
An initiative launched by lawyers close to the government has announced that it has collected the minimum number of signatures need to establish its own bar association in Istanbul. The founding member of the Istanbul No. 2 Bar Association, Cavit Tatlı has said that they will submit their application to the Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) on Sept. 23.
Economy
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Turkish Airlines (THY) observed a drop of almost 65 percent in the number of August travelers compared to the year before. Domestic flights saw a smaller drop of 47.1 percent, while international flights shrank by 75.4 percent, THY said.
Urban Beat
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.