Diplomacy
Moscow expects Ankara to ensure the safety of all Russians who work in Turkey, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "We have no doubt that the Turkish authorities will take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the Russian envoy and all embassy staff members," Peskov said. Turkish officials have reportedly increased security at the Russian Embassy in Ankara in the wake of threats addressed to Ambassador Alexey Yerkhov.
Russian Foreign Ministry has warned Turkey to refrain from provocative statements on Idlib, days after MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli directed accusations toward Moscow. "We believe that in the context of the tense situation in the northwest of Syria, it is worth exercising restraint and in particular refraining from provocative comments that do not contribute to a constructive dialogue between our countries," the ministry said.
The German economy ministry said in its answer to a recent parliamentary question that the government has authorized arms exports to Turkey, Qatar, the UAE and Egypt worth 4.3 million euros during the period of Jan. 1 – Feb. 4. The Left Party’s ("Die Linke") MP Sevim Dağdelen has criticized Germany's move, saying: “Arms exports to countries involved in the Libya war should completely end.”
Syria's parliament has backed a resolution condemning the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915 as genocide, in a move that came amid increased tensions between Ankara and Damascus in Idlib. In the past, Syria allowed the recognition of the genocide inside the country, but the government did not officially recognize it due to ties with Ankara.
Turkey will send additional troops to Syria's Idlib in order for the establishment of a ceasefire, the country's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said. "Those who don't comply with the ceasefire, including the radicals, will be hit and all precautions will be taken," he said. "Our observation posts that we have reinforced will continue to play an important role on monitoring the situation on the field," he added.
Tensions in Idlib were carried to social media, as the embassies of the United States and Russia shared tweets that featured accusations towards one another. "The judgement is up to," the tweet sent from the Russian side read on Feb. 12, as it featured a screen grab from a video prepared by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, in addition to an infographic prepared by Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency regarding the Pentagon's support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate, the YPG.
The Pentagon has denied that a deal was reached between Turkey and the U.S. regarding Idlib. "No such agreement was made," Voice of America's Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb said on Feb. 12, citing Alyssa Farah, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman. Babb also said that reports of a closed door meeting between Turkish Defense Minister Akar and his U.S. counterpart Esper is false.
Turkey's Defense Ministry said on Feb. 12 that its forces had killed 55 Syrian regime soldiers in Idlib, in a significant escalation in the battle to control the country’s last opposition stronghold. Turkey's move comes in the wake of an attack by regime forces earlier this week that claimed the lives of five Turkish troops.
Turkish Cypriot President Akıncı's spokesman Burcu said that after Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu went as far as branding Akıncı a “supporter of terrorism” over his remarks on the prospect of annexation by Turkey, there have been death threats against the Turkish Cypriot leader even on television programs in Turkey. “What happened recently has once again show how right our President is,” said Burcu in a written statement on Feb. 11.
Russia has said that the situation in Syria's Idlib was being aggravated by the flow of Turkish troops into the province. "The situation is aggravated by the flow of arms and ammunition into the de-escalation zone across the Turkish-Syrian border, as well as columns of Turkish armored vehicles and troops entering Syria's province of Idlib," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a press release on Feb. 12.
Turkish military will strike Syrian government forces by air or ground "anywhere" in Syria if another Turkish soldier is hurt, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Feb. 12. Erdoğan also said Turkey was determined to push the Syrian troops beyond Turkish observation posts in Idlib by the end this month.
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey highlighted during their meeting on Feb. 12 that Idlib deal must be upheld and the Syrian regime attacks need to stop as soon possible for a political solution process to be initiated in the war-torn country, according to a statement released by the Turkish presidency.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey have extended their condolences to Turkey following a Syrian army attack that killed five Turkish soldiers in Idlib. "The ongoing assaults by the Assad regime and Russia must stop. I've sent Jim Jeffrey to Ankara to coordinate steps to respond to this destabilizing attack. We stand by our NATO Ally #Turkey," Pompeo said on Twitter.
Damascus has said that it "categorically rejects" Turkish presence on Syrian soil. "Syria reaffirms its categorical rejection of any Turkish presence on the Syrian territory, as it constitutes a flagrant violation of the international law and a blatant aggression on the Syrian sovereignty," it said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the Syrian government will pay a "heavy price" for attacking Turkish troops in northwest Syria's Idlib region. "They will pay a very heavy price as they attack our soldiers," Erdoğan said. "Especially in Idlib, they got what they deserved. But this is not enough, it will continue," he added.
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duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
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.
Politics
DEVA chair Ali Babacan has criticized the government's new three-year economic program, saying he did not see it including any “concrete steps” which will economically provide a relief to the people. Babacan also said that with this new program, the government has admitted to Turkey being impoverished since he left the position of deputy prime minister in 2015.
Turkey's Constitutional Court on Sept. 29 postponed its decision to review Osman Kavala's appeal with regards to his ongoing arrest, citing the impending indictment against the philanthropist. Just a couple of hours after the Constitutional Court's statement, Istanbul prosecutors submitted the new indictment against Kavala to the relevant court, concerning “espionage” charges.
Istanbul prosecutors have dismissed a case against CHP Istanbul chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu, who was being sued by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aide Fahrettin Altun in a dispute concerning an illegal construction undertaken in Istanbul's Üsküdar district.
Murat Gezenler, the head of a Salafi association, has said that the number of Salafis in Turkey is much higher than what is stated in the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) reports. Gezenler also said that one of the differences between his association and ISIS is that the latter accepts Turks as Muslims, whereas they don't.
Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Group Deputy Chair Saruhan Oluç said that the government was trying to create "a Turkey without the HDP" with its mass detentions. Dozens of HDP members were detained last week in relation to the 2014 Kobane protests.
Turkish Parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop has said that he believes in reintroduction of death penalty for certain crimes, a proposal suggested by far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli earlier in September. "I am of the opinion that death penalty could be considered for premediated murder and sexual abuses committed against minors and women,” Şentop said on Sept. 29.
Turkish state and university hospitals are offering to repay debts totalling some 19 billion lira ($2.43 billion) to drugmakers and medical equipment firms, but with a discount, Reuters reported on Sept. 29.
Turkey's Human Rights Association revealed that 20 inmates died in prison in Turkey during the first nine months of 2020. Data also showed that there are currently 1,605 sick prisoners in Turkey, 604 of which are seriously ill.
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that he doesn't care about exchange rates and that he doesn't follow them, as the Turkish Lira plumbed to new lows on Sept. 29. Albayrak's comments came after he unveiled the country's new economic program for 2021-2023 based on themes of "new stabilization, new normal, and the new economy." The minister said the Turkish economy is projected to grow 0.3 percent this year.
A man who stabbed and killed his neighbor's dog and injured two others was released by an Istanbul court. Due to a lack of legal protection for animal rights in Turkey, the attacker Faruk Ö. was charged with property damage.
The downfall of cruise tourism has benefited Turkey's ship recyclers as multi-million-dollar ships are scrapped at the Aegean Izmir facility. The recyclers expect almost one million tonnes of scraps this year.
Students in the eastern province of Kars asked the government for help in a video where they're seen doing classwork on a barren hill, the only spot where they can access the internet. Former main opposition deputy Barış Yarkadaş noted that remote education wasn't as effective as the government made it seem.
The publisher and editor-in-chief of a local daily were arrested on slander charges in the western province of Koceali two days after running a story about a “rape gang” in the district. While the story accused local officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of assaulting a minor, the prosecutor’s office ruled the suspects mentioned “were not involved” in the incident.
The total number of COVID-19 deaths in Turkey surpassed 8,000 as 65 patients died on Sept. 28, Health Ministry data revealed. Meanwhile, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca noted that the number of recovered patients was higher than the number of new diagnoses for the first time in a while.
The Kars governor's office announced on Sept. 28 that it banned all “demonstrations and activities” for a period of 15 days until Oct. 12. The ban came into effect just hours before HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan's planned rally in the province, in support of Kars mayor Ayhan Bilgen who was among those taken into custody in simultaneous police raids last week.
A group led by forensic science expert and human rights defender Prof. Şebnem Korur Fincancı won the elections for the leadership of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB). Fincancı is now expected to be elected the leader of the association in the upcoming meeting.
A women's prison in southeast Turkey banned a book that was co-authored by the chairman of Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM). The book that was found "suspicious" by the prison is about freedom of expression.
The New York Times reported on Sept. 28 that Trump Towers Istanbul has netted U.S. President Donald Trump $1 million in 2016 and 2017. Trump has long had business ties in and with Turkey, the most visible example being the Trump Towers Istanbul, which licenses the Trump name.
Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into Tele1 TV editor-in-chief Merdan Yanardağ over his reports that Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman paid a visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following his wedding ceremony. The court ruled for Yanardağ's release, but imposed judicial control measures involving regularly reporting at his local police station as well as overseas travel ban.
Halk TV, a broadcaster that's critical of the government, blacked out on Sept. 28 following a ruling from Turkey's Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK). The five-day blackout is a first in the council's history, as such harsh sanctions haven't been issued before.
Economy
A jaw dropping 95 percent of a fund established to develop Turkey's internet infrastructure has disappeared, a main opposition deputy said. Some 1.5 billion liras were collected for the fund in 2019, but 1.4 billion of that has vanished, Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Murat Emir said.
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
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.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
Urban Beat
CHP deputy Mustafa Adıgüzel has found a lost letter penned by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey's founding father, to a U.S. child called Curtis La France. "My advice to the intelligent and hardworking children of the U.S. is to not perceive everything they hear about Turks as true and attach importance to basing their opinions on scientific and sound examinations. I wish you success and happiness," Atatürk said in the letter.
The 39th Istanbul Film Festival will offer viewings both online and in-person, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) noted. While tickets will become available on Oct. 2, showings will start a week later and last for 10 days.
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
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.