Diplomacy
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that money gained from the Syrian oil fields should be used to fund Turkey's plans to establish refugee towns in a planned “safe zone” in northern Syria. “Let's together extract the oil from those oil wells and then by executing these projects in that terror region, let's settle these people who are currently refugees in their houses and schools that we build," he said.
Independent lawmaker and former ambassador Öztürk Yılmaz said that Turkish parliament will recognize U.S. killings of Native Americans as genocide if it's put to vote. "I think it would be approved if it's put to vote in parliament. I hope that such a process begins and we'll discuss it," Yılmaz said, as he echoed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's earlier remarks on the issue.
The Trump administration does not recognize the Ottoman Empire's treatment of Armenians as genocide despite the U.S. Senate passing a resolution on the matter, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on Dec. 17. "The position of the administration has not changed. Our views are reflected in the President’s definitive statement on this issue from last April," Ortagus said.
CHP lawmakers have placed dissenting opinions to a deal on military cooperation between Turkey and Libya, saying that the deal would pave the way for the transfer of paramilitary powers from Turkey to Libya, as well as those in Syria's jihadist hub Idlib, under "consultancy services" and "coordination of intelligence and operational activities." Libya's stability can't be restored if Turkey continues to take sides in the war, they also said.
The New Democracy government in Greece has been preparing for the worst in the country's relations with Ankara, with Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis ramping up security in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, especially off Crete, to prevent close contact with Turkey. The move comes following a deal signed between Turkey and the Tripoli government that infuriated Greece.
Pentagon chief Mark Esper has said that he needs to talk to his Turkish counterpart in order to understand President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks on shutting two strategic bases down. "It has not been brought up to me before. The first I heard of it was reading it in the papers as you just mentioned and so I need to talk to my defense counterpart to understand what they really mean and how serious they are," Esper said.
Murat Yetkin writes: At the moment, the state of Turkish-American relations looks like two train wagons heading towards each other on the same railway at full speed. The trains are not of the same size or strength. Both of their respective machinists don’t seem to have the intention to hit the brakes. So it’s safe to say there is really something to worry about it.
Former MI6 Agent Gustaf Edward Le Mesurier's death was the result of a fall, according to the forensic report. Only sleep-aids were found in Le Mesurier's blood, and no foreign DNA was found on the tissue. Le Mesurier was found dead in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district early on Nov. 11 and an investigation was launched into the incident.
A source from the Pentagon said that the United States is trying to maintain constructive dialogue with Turkey, amid a fresh row over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks on shutting down two U.S. strategic compounds. "We see our troops in Turkey as a symbol of our decades-long responsibility to help protect our NATO ally and strategic partner," Sputnik cited the source as saying in response to Erdoğan's threat to shut down the military base in İncirlik and the Kürecik Radar Station in protest of the Armenian Genocide bill that was passed in the U.S. Congress.
Some 63 bar associations have jointly released a statement saying that the recent deliberations on a bill seeking to pardon men sentenced for child sexual abuse -- on the condition that they are married to their victims -- are "worrisome." The bar associations fear that such measures will normalize rape and forced marriages.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said that the United States is selling to Turkey oil seized from Syrian oil wells and accused Ankara of being Washington's “accomplice” regarding this business. "The Turkish regime plays a direct part in selling the oil, previously with al-Nusra, later with ISIS and today with the Americans," he said during an interview with the Chinese television channel Phoenix.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to close down an American air force base and a radar station in Turkey in the event that Washington imposes sanctions against Ankara due to its recent military incursion into northeastern Syria. “If necessary, we'll close İncirlik and Kürecik,” Erdoğan said, referring to the İncirlik Air Force Base in the southern province of Adana and the Kürecik Radar Station in the southeastern province of Malatya.
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.
Editor's Picks
Serdar Korucu writes: One of the topics that comes to mind when recalling the Ottoman legacy in Lebanon is the Armenian Genocide. Among the most important symbolic structures carrying the traces of 1915 in Lebanon is the Armenian Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias.
duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki are joined by Robert Bosch Academy's Galip Dalay to discuss the impact of Turkish government's recent domestic policy moves on Ankara's international relations. They look for answers to whether there is any possibility that Turkey's relations with the West might change for the better any time soon.
Politics
Turkey's Council of Higher Education (YÖK) has said that it asked universities to postpone their reopenings until Oct. 1 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. The YÖK said that it will be up to universities and their faculties to decide if courses will be taught online or on campus.
Education Minister Ziya Selçuk has announced that schools will reopen on Aug. 31 with distance learning, but face-to-face lessons will not resume until Sept. 21. Selçuk's comments came after the Health Ministry's Coronavirus Science Committee suggested that face-to-face lessons should be postponed for at least a month amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Several members of Congress have been quietly blocking multiple U.S. arms sales to Turkey as the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has still yet to impose mandatory sanctions on the country over its purchase of a Russian-made missile defense system, CNN cited several congressional aides as saying.
The Turkish Consulate in the German city of Nuremberg on Aug. 13 announced that it was temporarily closed as one of its staff tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Germany reached its highest level in more than three months on Aug. 12.
The Arab Parliament expressed its readiness to work with Iraq to mobilize regional and international support to stop the Turkish attacks on the Iraqi soil, following the death of two Iraqi border guards as a result of a Turkish drone strike on Aug. 11. The Arab League similarly condemned the Turkish drone attack saying that Turkey's action is "a blatant violation of Iraq's sovereignty."
Several women gathered in Ankara's Kurtuluş neighborhood and wanted to march towards the Kızılay Square in an attempt to read a press statement there in protest of the government’s plan to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. The women however faced a harsh police response, with several of them having been battered or detained.
Greek experts and politicians critical of the government have said that Athens has made a mistake with regards to the timing of the maritime deal that it struck with Egypt last week. They also accused Mitsotakis government of pursuing a “maximalist” and “very strict policy” in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.
World-famed Bollywood actor Aamir Khan stopped shooting his movie Laal Singh Chaddha, an adaption of the 1994 classic Forrest Gump, due to coronavirus outbreak in India. Khan now looks for alternative locations in Turkey to shoot his movie.
The World Bank issued its latest edition of the Turkey Economic Monitor (TEM) on Aug. 12, in which it pointed to the sharp drop in Turkey's Central Bank reserves. "Though short-term external debt obligations seem manageable, a growing current account deficit and the sharp decline in reserves have heightened external vulnerabilities," it said.
Turkey's main opposition CHP has disputed the official unemployment statistics, saying that the country's actual unemployment rate stands at 30.6 percent which corresponds to over 10.5 million people. CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak has said that this number of unemployed people is higher than the populations of 109 countries.
MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli has said that demanding education in Kurdish shows captivity to imperialism, as he commented on Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu's remarks. "The fact that Davutoğlu talked about the Kurdish issue and mentioned education in mother tongue is a scandalous example of the extent that captivity to imperialism has reached," Bahçeli said in a written statement on Aug. 12.
İYİ Party leader Akşener on Aug. 12 paid a visit to DEVA chair Babacan to congratulate him for his new party. The two opposition leaders later held a press meeting, during which Babacan was asked if he would consider joining the People's Alliance of the AKP and MHP should such an offer come. "What we need to focus on is to complete the process of producing and [party] organization," Babacan said in response to the question.
Several human rights groups have penned a letter to the UN Human Rights Office asking the organization to urge the Turkish government not to discriminate against LGBTI+ individuals and to take necessary steps to protect the LGBTI+ community from any attacks.
Main opposition Istanbul Municipality revealed that the Culture Ministry's contract workers had been destroying walls of ancient Galata Tower. The historic building had been taken away from the municipality last 2019, and forced to be evacuated in April.
Iraq cancelled on Aug. 11 Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar's visit to the country which was scheduled for Aug. 13, Iraq's foreign ministry said in a statement following the death of two Iraqi border guards as a result of a Turkish drone strike. The ministry also summoned the Turkish ambassador to hand him "a strong protest note and inform him of Iraq’s confirmed rejection of his country's attacks and violations," the statement added.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has not confirmed whether Cemil Bayık, one of the leaders of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), was killed in a drone strike. "Our anti-terror operations are ongoing. Our advice to the whole world is for them to follow Turkey in terms of the struggle against terror," Soylu told reporters in the capital Ankara on Aug. 12 when asked to comment on the issue.
Turkey's Koç University presented a new research center that will work on vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases including for COVID-19, funded by commercial İşbank for an annual budget over five million Turkish Liras. The new center will also work on diagnosis and public health.
The deputy governor of southern province of Hatay on Aug. 11 shot and killed his mother and his brother in a brawl concerning inherited farming land. Tolga Polat was detained by police a few hours after he fled the scene. State-run Anadolu Agency reported on Aug. 12 that the deputy governor had been arrested by a court order.
Istanbul police on Aug. 5 raided Istanbul's İdil Culture Center where leftist folk band Grup Yorum carries out its musical works and detained five people there, including former hunger-striking academic Nuriye Gülmen. The People's Law Office announced on Aug. 11 that Gülmen was among the two who were arrested in the case.
Turkish Interior Ministry has sent a circular to 32 governors' offices warning them that PKK militants might be preparing to exchange a substantial amount of foreign currencies with Turkish liras to buy food and survival supplies for storage as part of their winter preparation plans.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin has said in a letter that neither Turkish nor Kurdish identity is something to brag about. "If you are to hang an identity around your neck, let it just read 'only human,'" read Demirtaş's letter, which was shared by his wife Başak Demirtaş.
The European Union has said that it's "extremely worried" about the escalating tensions between Greece and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean. Also on Aug. 11, Turkish Coast Guard Command announced that three people were injured when Greek navy opened fire on a private boat off the coast of Muğla.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) didn't ask to borrow money from Turkey, former Central Bank head Durmuş Yılmaz said to refute President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's claim. "This is a lie. The issue is technical. In short, the IMF didn't ask to borrow money from us. A commitment was made to a contingency fund and it wasn't realized. The proof: There is no such record on the Central Bank balance," Yılmaz tweeted on Aug. 11.
Economy
Turkish public banks have started charging clients for foreign currency withdrawals in accordance with the Central Bank's August 4 decree that aims to push down the amount of foreign cash circulating in Turkey. The 0.2 to 0.5 percent commissions for withdrawals are part of Ankara's efforts to lower the Turkish Lira's exchange rate against the dollar and the euro, which peaked to record highs earlier this month.
Goldman Sachs revised its periodic forecasts for the Turkish lira, anticipating that it will continue to fall and will reach 8.25 to the dollar by next year. The lira has been the world's second-worst performing currency thus far this month, dropping four percent for a total of an 18 percent decline in 2020.
Some 40 percent of youth aged between 25-29 are financially dependent on their parents, said a deputy of main opposition CHP. "Some 40 percent of our 6.1 million young people in the age group of 25-29, i.e. 2.5 million, are neither in unemployment nor in education. Due to the ruling government's policies, our youth in this age group are unfortunately living in a way that is depending on their parents,” Veli Ağbaba said.
Economist and former Treasury advisor Mahfi Eğilmez has said that the Turkish economy is no longer predictable. "In an unpredictable economy, due to the fact the risks increase, this means that expenses will also increase,” Eğilmez wrote in a column on Aug. 5.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 15 that companies involved in construction of the TurkStream pipeline will be subject to the U.S. penalties unless they stop their works. “It’s a clear warning to companies. Aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated. Get out now or risk the consequences,” he said.
Urban Beat
Mois Gabay writes: Do you think the Camondo family will be included in the Beyoğlu Culture Road project conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism? What about Arif Ergin’s “Tekvin” novel, in which he imagined that there would be a “Camondo Museum” one day?
Artifacts from Istanbul's ancient Hagia Sophia will be displayed in a nearby public building that will be transformed into a museum. Formerly used as a land office, the late-19th-century building in historical Sultanahmet will be converted on the president's orders.
Luke Frostick writes: Edanur Kuntman’s Tales from Behind the Window has been nominated for an Eisner Award. If she wins, she will be the first Turk to win an Eisner. The story is a piece of creative-nonfiction and its main narrative is drawn from the memories of Kuntman’s grandmother growing up in the Çarşamba district of Samsun.