Diplomacy
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Ankara condemns Greece's decision to expel the Libyan ambassador over a deal Turkey and Libya reached on Nov. 27. "Expelling an ambassador just because of the [agreement] that we signed is not mature behavior in diplomacy. This is outrageous," Çavuşoğlu said on Dec. 6.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he asked his French, German and U.K. counterparts why they have eyes on the Syrian soil, when he was faced with the question of if Turkey has intention of leaving the region during their quadrilateral meeting on Dec. 3 in London. “There is an issue that they have been dwelling on: 'When are you [Turkey] going to leave here [Syria]? In return, we asked them 'What are you doing here?'" Erdoğan told a group of Turkish reporters on Dec. 5.
Those who have eyes on Syrian soil should leave the country, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, adding that Turkey will continue its operations in northern Syria "until the area is cleared of all terrorists." He also defended the offensive due to the country having a 911-kilometer-long border with Syria. "Today, there's a Turkey that seeks no one's permission when carrying out operations for its national security," Erdoğan said.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that a consensus couldn't be reached with Turkey on the definition of terrorism. "I don't see any possible consensus," Macron said after a NATO summit marred by the spat with Turkey over its demand that allies brand as "terrorists" the YPG of northeastern Syria that helped a U.S.-led coalition defeat ISIS.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Dec. 4 that Turkey dropped its block on a plan to bolster the defenses of Baltic states and Poland against Russia, adding that NATO leaders did not discuss the YPG issue. Upon a question regarding the S-400s, Stoltenberg said that the Russian system can never be integrated into NATO defenses.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that he is confident about finding a solution to the rift between Ankara and the alliance over a defense plan for the Baltics and Poland, saying that he spoke to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was working on a solution to the matter.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has said that the European Union is a part of Turkey and Turkey is a part of the EU during a meeting with the ambassadors of 27 countries from the bloc. "I would like to remind you that Turkey is the most significant center in the EU's east. I believe that good steps and beginnings in Istanbul would spread to Turkey in a short period of time," he said, adding that such a move would have a positive effect on the Middle East.
Turkey on Dec. 3 repatriated five foreign national militants to Germany, 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.
All attacks against Syrian civilians, including in the rebel-held area of Idlib, must end, the leaders of Turkey, Britain, France, Germany agreed on Dec. 3 ahead of a NATO summit in London. "The leaders said they would work to create the conditions for the safe, voluntary and sustainable return of refugees and that the fight must be continued against terrorism in all its forms," U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office said in a statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Turkey of working with ISIS proxies, as the recent war of words between the two NATO allies continues. ""When I look at Turkey they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies," Macron said during a press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump in London.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said that Turkey is a good member of NATO or "will be." "I like Turkey and I get along well with the president - he is a very good member of NATO or will be," Trump said in a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the alliance's summit in London on Dec. 3. When asked if Turkey should be a member after its Syria offensive, Trump said that it should be discussed among allies.
Turkey and the United States have engaged in a new row over a NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland. While the rift between Turkey and its allies regarding Ankara's military offensive in northeastern Syria has been ongoing for a while, Ankara's refusal to back the NATO plan added to the tensions between the country and the alliance ahead of the NATO summit in London.
US Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen have urged the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of a Russian missile defense system. "The time for patience has long expired. It is time you applied the law," Graham and Hollen said in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary general, has warned that the NATO leaders' meeting is set to be a "very risky" one as it has the potential to be “derailed by a triple threat” from the presidents of Turkey, France and the United States. “Militarily NATO is stronger than at any time since the Cold War, but politically NATO is weaker,” Rasmussen told The Times in an interview.
A Turkish official has said that the purchase date for S-400 missile defense systems is just a technicality, the RIA news agency reported. "The date of the purchase of a second set of S-400s is just a technical question. I think it will happen before too long," RIA cited a security and foreign affairs official in the Turkish presidential administration as saying.
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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.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
Politics
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.
Şaban Vatan, the father of Rabia Naz who was found dead in a suspicious way two years ago, has been stopped by the police for wearing a t-shirt that read “Where are you justice?” and “What happened to Rabia Naz?” “So it turns out, a person's being in Taksim with a t-shirt that has Rabia Naz's picture on, is a crime," Vatan wrote on Twitter.
A prominent health expert has said that about 3,000 people are believed to have been infected with the COVID-19 virus during the prayers held at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia on July 24. "There were about 1,000 asymptotic patients there, based on forecasts. If we think of the transmission rate, those patients have infected 2,000-3,000 others. I believe that gathering will increase the cases in Istanbul,” Assoc. Pro. Dr. Üner said on Aug. 8.
Turkey's parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop, from the ruling AKP, has said that there is no need for Turkey to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women. Şentop's comments came as the AKP is considering whether to pull Turkey out of the convention, alarming campaigners who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.
Turkey's Arab Alawite community has celebrated the Gadir Hum holiday amid concerns of rising cases of coronavirus in Turkey. Mehmet Ali Dönmez, who organized Gadir Hum festivities in the Samandağ district of Hatay, which is prominently Arab Alawite, said that the celebration of the festival is in defiance of cultural assimilation.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has voiced support to Finance Minister Berat Albayrak amid the country's worsening economy. Several AKP officials, including Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, defended Albayrak on Twitter via using the hashtag "We stand with Berat Albayrak."
Amnesty International has called on the Turkish government to "fully implement" the Istanbul Convention rather withdraw from it. The prominent organization said that Turkey's withdrawal from the convention would have "disastrous consequences" for millions of women and girls in the country.
Rights organizations will take the case of Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal -- who have been on a hunger strike since April 5 to support their demand for a fair trial -- to the Constitutional Court. The move comes after an Istanbul court in July denied the release of Timtik and Ünsal, despite a medical report that says it is not “suitable” for the two lawyers to remain in jail.
Some 64 percent of Turkish people are of the belief that it is not safe to allow schools to reopen on Aug. 31 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a recent survey conducted by Metropoll. The survey also looked at how supporters of different political parties view this issue, finding that 53 percent of AKP voters do not support the government's planned move.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the country's economy is on the fast lane, downplaying Turkish Lira's sharp fall against dollar and euro. "No one should try to deceive the public. We're stronger than yesterday," he said. While experts voice concern on the situation, Erdoğan claimed that the "zigzags" in the economy can be seen around the world following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Two people were detained for shooting the car of a restaurant owner over late takeaway delivery in the southern province of Adana on Aug. 6. E.K. and his friend Ö.T. opened fire on the restaurant owner with a pump rifle and blank cartridge following an argument.
The Turkish Interior Ministry on Aug. 7 announced that coronavirus quarantines are currently underway in 83 residential areas in 32 provinces. The areas are home to some 54,053 people. The ministry's comments came as the country's daily COVID-19 cases have recently shown a sharp rebounding trend, with more than 1,000 daily jump in successive days.
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) has protested a factory run by the tuna fish company Dardanel in the province of Çanakkale after it imposed a closed-circuit working system on some of its employees after they contracted coronavirus. The workers have been forced to stay in quarantine dormitories since July 26.
Congolese opposition politician Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko has disappeared in Ankara after flying to the Turkish capital for health treatment in late July. He boarded a plane belonging to Qatar and landed at Ankara's Esenboğa airport on July 30, and has not been heard from since.
Employees of Turkish Airlines (THY) have been facing an uncertain future due to the salary crisis that has been ongoing for five months in the company. According to Sözcü, talks between the THY and Hava-İş, the Turkish union representing a large number of workers in the civil aviation sector, have failed to reach a conclusion.
Turkish steeplechaser Gülcan Mıngır has been banned for two years after a re-test of her samples from the London Olympics in 2012 revealed the presence of a prohibited substance, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Aug. 6. The 31-year-old's ban has been backdated to Feb 3, 2020.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Aug. 6 that return of Germans from holiday destinations such as Western Balkan countries and Turkey is increasingly contributing to the rise in new coronavirus cases. Spahn also said that everyone arriving from high-risk areas will be tested for the disease unless they can produce a negative test certificate no more than two days old.
Former MHP deputy Cemal Enginyurt has said it was him who started the legal process that led to the cancellation of a dissident-led congress back in 2016 aiming to challenge the leadership of Devlet Bahçeli. “When Meral Akşener won the congress with 715 votes on June 19, it was me who took the case to the court. It was me that led to the cancellation of the congress, which they had won," Enginyurt said on Aug. 5.
Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener has said that the majority of the Turkish people want to return to a parliamentary system, adding that the current "freakish" system can't govern the country. "Turkey's economy has worsened, the youth doesn't have hope to find jobs, agriculture and industry have collapsed. The people are suffering from not being able to find food and fear being unemployed," she said.
Economy
The Turkish Lira has devalued drastically against the dollar, reaching almost seven liras on the dollar. Ankara has invested almost $60 billion in currency interventions in 2020 to no avail, Financial Times reported on July 28.
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.
The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (TÜPRAŞ) ranked as Turkey's largest industrial business with 87.9 billion liras in annual production revenue. The oil company was followed mostly by automotive producers.
On the second anniversary of Turkey's transformation into a presidential system, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has prepared a report detailing how the country stands in the ensuing years, finding that the Turkish lira has lost four times its value since 2007.
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.