Diplomacy
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.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Turkey was "no longer a partner" in the Mediterranean due to its behavior but called for renewed dialogue with Ankara. "We want to reengage a dialogue... we are not naive but we want to reengage in good faith," Macron said on Sept. 10 after the summit of seven EU Mediterranean leaders in Corsica.
European Union sanctions on Belarus are being delayed by a separate dispute between Cyprus and Turkey over energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, four EU diplomats told Reuters, in the latest sign of paralysis in the bloc's foreign policy.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said that Greece needs dialogue with Turkey with regards to the Eastern Mediterranean crisis, but not "when held at gunpoint." "What threatens the security and stability of my country threatens the well-being and safety of all European Union member states," he said.
The breakaway Turkish Cyprus has announced that it suspended flights from Turkey from Sept. 9 evening until Sept. 13 evening, with the exception of emergency flights as well as military and medical planes.
The meeting between Turkish and Greek military delegations at NATO headquarters has been delayed for two days until Sept. 10, Turkish Defense Ministry sources said. The sources said the delay was requested by the alliance's military committee.
Maltese Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo has said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have replaced former Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi in the war-torn country. Bartolo said that if the ongoing eastern Mediterranean crisis is not solved with “careful moves,” “unforeseen consequences” might arise, just like in Libya.
Incumbent Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı has said that there are clear “clues” of Ankara's involvement in the upcoming presidential elections set to take place on Oct. 11. “We expect that no one gets on the wrong track of favoring a side. I am saying this because there are clues regarding this issue. Turkish Cypriots have the right, ability, capability and authority to determine their own future with their free and independent identities,” Akıncı said during an interview on Sept. 7.
Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has slammed Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz after the latter said that the European Union must stand up against blackmails from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. "The major threat to the EU and its values is the distorted ideology represented by Sebastian Kurz," Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan knows that the EU has “a lot of options” in terms of the type of sanctions that Ankara might face over escalating tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Greece has increased border patrols due to fears that Turkey might be preparing to pressure the EU over the Eastern Mediterranean issue by "using migrants.” “Turkey might use the migrants once again in the upcoming days, for the EU not to impose sanctions,” Alternate Migration Minister George Koumoutsakos was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle's Turkish service on Sept. 6.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told European Council President Charles Michel on Sept. 6 that all EU institutions and members states should “behave responsibly" with regards to Turkey's row with Greece over hydrocarbon exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. "President Erdoğan called on EU institutions and member countries to behave responsibly and remain just, impartial and objective on all regional issues, notably the Eastern Mediterranean," a statement from Erdoğan's office said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sept. 3 discussed the dispute over claims to potential hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Erdoğan said Greece, Cyprus and the countries which supported them were "taking steps which heightened deadlock and tensions."
NATO chief Stoltenberg said on Sept. 4 that technical talks between Athens and Ankara have already begun to calm the escalating tension in the eastern Mediterranean. “No agreement has been reached yet, but the talks have started,” he said.
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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
The Kızılırmak Delta Wetland and Bird Sanctuary in the Black Sea province of Samsun has observed raging fires since the reversal of its "protected area" status. While a part of the delta was transferred to the property of the government, environmentalists suspect the fires were started intentionally.
Local medical device companies have warned the Turkish Health Ministry that if debts owed by the government hospitals remain unpaid, there could be a “disruption in the health services” starting as early as in October. The Turkish Medical Equipment and Devices Manufacturers Association (TÜDER) has said that local medical firms have been waiting for the last 16 months to get their payment which has reached to around $26 billion Turkish Liras ($3.4 billion) in total.
Turkish Justice Ministry has dismissed a parliamentary question on the release of a rapist soldier for being "offensive." Uca in her question asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to reveal the reason for why former specialized sergeant Musa Orhan was released despite raping İpek Er. The ministry said that the question can be accepted if the terms found "crude and offensive" are removed.
Turkey reportedly didn't apprehend ISIS militant Yunus Durmaz responsible for deadly attacks in Turkey despite determining his location 19 times between April 29 and May 19, 2016. Durmaz, who was sought over the attacks in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, the Suruç district of the southeastern province of Urfa, the capital Ankara and Istanbul's Taksim, blew himself up during a police raid on an ISIS cell in 2016.
An 80-year-old inmate who was imprisoned for holding a Muslim memorial service in Kurdish died on Sept. 23, without being allowed to see his family, pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said. The old man's conviction should have been delayed in the first place since he was ill, the deputy added.
Former Zaman daily columnist Mümtazer Türköne has been released from jail following Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli's call for his retrial. Türköne's lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu has said she believes the release came after the Court of Cassation overturned the sentence following an appeal.
Turkey will not make any concessions over its claims in the eastern Mediterranean, said a statement issued following the country's National Security Council (MGK) meeting. “It has been once again emphasized that Turkey will not make a concession with regards to its rights and interests on land, sea or in the air, as has been the case up until today,” the statement read.
A group of lawyers close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have submitted their application to the Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) to form a second bar association in Istanbul. The group has collected just over 2,000 signatures required to establish their own association as per a new legislation which was passed by Turkish parliament in July of this year.
The trial into the murder of a 12-year-old girl shot dead on Oct. 12, 2015 in Diyarbakır during a curfew, has been put on hold following the Interior Ministry's refusal to grant permission for the prosecution of the police officer in question.
The Ankara Medical Chamber has said that the number of healthcare staff who have contracted the COVID-19 in the city has increased by 61 in the last eight days, reaching to a total of 943.
The Turkish government is reportedly planning to hand prison sentences between two months and a year to those violating quarantine rules based on an article of the Turkish Penal Code, which regulates behavior in violation of the measures against contagious diseases. The country on Sept. 23 announced the death toll as 72 - its highest since the beginning of May.
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) police teams on Sept. 24 demolished some restaurants and cafes on Heybeliada on the grounds that they were unlicensed. Café owners slammed the İBB's move saying that they had already paid an "occupancy fee" to the local management to use the lands in question.
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.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş will carry the indictments into him as medals, as he commented on a recent visit by a chief public prosecutor to the presidential palace. "We know that there are prosecutors lined up in front of Erdoğan," the CHP leader said.
Construction on Turkey's first nuclear power plant is ongoing amid reports of unpaid wages, the general manager said on Sept. 23. While management said it was contract companies that were lagging behind on payments, they launched an investigation into the wages nonetheless.
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield has said debts owed by Turkish government hospitals to American pharmaceutical companies had risen to around $2.3 billion, warning that there will be consequences for non-payment of debt or reductions in payment. "Companies will consider departing the Turkish market or will reduce exposure to Turkish market. This is not a direction which serves the interests of Turkey," he said on Sept. 23.
The Turkish Health Ministry is under scrutiny over the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases it announces daily. "This is not the exact number of positive cases. However, this is not the number of patients receiving treatment at hospitals only," the ministry reportedly told Prof. Mehmet Ceyhan, prompting confusion on what the numbers on the daily coronavirus chart mean.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has cautioned Turkey against further deployment of equipment from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on its soil, saying it would complicate the military cooperation between the two NATO allies. The U.S. believes Huawei Technologies’ apparatus could be used for espionage.
CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel has asked the government to reveal who received millions of dollars of bribe from shady Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab. "It's said that $80 million of this money was given to a single politician. Will the Financial Crime Investigation Board, Turkish Treasury, Court of Accounts and other auditors be mobilized?" Özel asked.
Turkey on Sept. 23 recorded more than 70 daily coronavirus deaths for the first time since May. Seventy two people died over the past 24 hours due to the COVID-19 in Turkey, while 1,767 new cases were diagnosed, according to the daily figures the Health Ministry announced on a COVID-19 dedicated website 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.
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.
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
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.
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.