Diplomacy
Christian Berger, outgoing head of the EU Delegation to Turkey, has said that although Ankara has met a majority of the EU's requirements for visa liberation, a couple of remaining criteria continue to remain challenging hurdles that the Turkish government needs to tackle. “The Turkish ministries need to tell us how they these issues will be solved. We are here, so the process is still continuing,” he said, emphasizing the importance of the superiority of law and right to a fair trial.
Turkey said on Aug. 30 that it is capable of deterring anyone that challenges its stance with regards to the eastern Mediterranean issue by “dispatching an armada.” The statement came after French President Macron said he had adopted a "red-line policy" in the region by backing Greece against Turkey over the exploration of energy resources.
Turkey said it will hold a military exercise off northwest Cyprus for the next two weeks, amid growing tension with Greece over disputed claims to exploration rights in the east Mediterranean. The European Union's top diplomat said on Aug. 28 the bloc was preparing sanctions against Turkey that could be discussed at a summit in late September in response to Ankara's standoff with EU member Greece.
The European Union has said that it's "deeply saddened" by the death of Ebru Timtik, a lawyer who had been on a death fast for 238 days with the demand to be tried fairly. "Turkey urgently needs to demonstrate concrete progress on the rule of law and fundamental freedoms," read a statement released by European Commission foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano.
The European Union is preparing sanctions against Turkey in response to the eastern Mediterranean dispute with Greece. EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell said on Aug. 28 such measures may be discussed at a meeting of the bloc’s leaders next month. Borrell's comments came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Aug. 28 that all EU countries are obliged to support Greece against Turkey.
Greek lawmakers on Aug. 27 ratified a maritime agreement with Egypt on boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said "their ratification is urgent" given "Turkey's illegal activities."
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak was threatened by one of his European counterparts in the past, pro-government columnist Abdülkadir Selvi said on Aug. 27. When asked about when the said incident took place, Albayrak reportedly said, "When I was the Energy Minister."
US special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey arrived in Turkey on Aug. 26 with an accompanying delegation to discuss the latest efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict. "We have exciting developments on the Syrian account," Jeffrey told reporters at the airport. "The military phase of this conflict needs to end. There is no more ground to be gained by the regime. The regime needs to return to the negotiating table and deal with the rest of the international community. That's our priority," he said.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Aug. 26 called for dialogue to ease tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. “Turkey and Greece have both been important NATO allies for many years. We need to find a way to resolve the situation in the eastern Mediterranean based on the spirit of allied solidarity,” Stoltenberg said.
U.S. President Donald Trump, in a phone call on Aug. 26 with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, expressed concern about tensions between Greece and Turkey and urged the two NATO allies to commit to a dialogue about their dispute over the eastern Mediterranean. The U.S. president also spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, discussing “regional developments and tensions in the region."
Turkey on Aug. 27 issued a new Navtex to carry out live-fire gunnery exercises in the eastern Mediterranean on Sept. 1 and 2. The Navtex issued at 9.30 a.m. comes as Greece, Cyprus, France and Italy conduct joint military exercises south of Cyprus amid heightened tensions between Turkey and Greece.
Four F-16s from the UAE have landed on the Greek island of Crete to take part in drills with the Hellenic Air Force, The Jerusalem Post reported. The UAE's move comes amid rising tension between Turkey and Greece over claims to hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.
The U.S. State Department has updated its travel advisory for those traveling to Turkey, saying that level 3 caution (“reconsider travel”) is still valid due to the COVID-19. Only Turkey's southeastern provinces of Şırnak and Hakkari well as any area within 10 kilometres of the Syrian border fall under level 4 (“do not travel”), the U.S. State Department said.
Turkey has given passports to a dozen Hamas members in Istanbul, a senior Israeli diplomat said on Aug. 26. Charge d'affaires Roey Gilad said Israel had already told Turkey last year that Hamas was carrying out "terror-related activity" in Istanbul, but Turkey had not taken action.
Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis said on Aug. 26 that the country plans to extend the western limit of its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 miles, while President Erdoğan called on Ankara's counterparts to avoid mistakes that he said would bring their destruction. "If there is anyone who wants to pay its price, they are welcome to confront us. If not then they should go away so we can handle our own business," Erdoğan said.
Editor's Picks
Ahmet Murat Aytaç writes: The recent inhumane attack against migrant workers that took place in the Mazıdağı district of Sakarya should be analyzed within the framework of economic oppression. No matter what triggered the assaults, the general tendency in Turkey right now is to deny the ethnic dimension of the conflict.
duvar englis podcasts
In this week's episode, Duvar English Editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel hosts American political scientist Wendy Pearlman to talk about her latest book "We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria," which was recently published in Turkish. Pearlman spoke to hundreds of Syrian refugees, collecting human stories from one of recent history's biggest humanitarian crises.
Politics
A Turkish court has sentenced Halis Bayancuk, who is described as the leader of ISIS in Turkey, to 12 years and six months in jail. Bayancuk, who goes by the name Abu Hanzala, has been detained several times before in Turkey, but only to be freed later because of a lack of evidence or problems involving the charges against him.
Gli the Hagia Sophia cat has fallen ill two months after the site was converted into a mosque and will live away from people in a private room. Caretakers of the 16-year-old cat, who was born at Hagia Sophia, previously warned worshippers to not overwhelm Gli after footage of them taking pictures of Gli with flashes and feeding him unhealthy food emerged on social media.
Islamist cult leader Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü has said that he is ready to name a total of 150 Salafi associations taking up arms as part of their preparations to fight in Turkey. "I've made a list of these associations and in which provinces they are located. If the prosecutors summon me and ask me what I know, I'm ready to name at least 150 of them," a journalist cited Ünlü as saying.
İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener has slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for "giving the youth a massive prison," as she commented on the unemployment figures and the economy. "You gave them unemployment, hopelessness and depression," Akşener said. Your gift to the youth is a country that they don't feel belonging to and that they can't breathe in," she added.
AKP Group Deputy Chair Bülent Turan has praised President Erdoğan for "making" French President Macron tweet in Turkish. "Macron tweeted in Turkish and said that he is ready for dialogue. The name of the man who made a French President tweet in Turkish is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan," Turan said. Erdoğan also responded to Macron's gesture, saying that Turkey intends to listen to all sincere calls and make room for diplomacy.
Turkey has strongly condemned a Greek daily for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın deeming the move "a provocation." Another government official to condemn the headline was Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who said that the headline "will remain as a document of shame" in the history of the Greek press.
The HDP has said that its MYK member Serhat Aktemur was abducted in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır by individuals claiming to be National Intelligence Organization (MİT) members. Aktemur said that the three individuals in question threatened to kill him by saying, "If we see you around, we'll shoot you."
Turkish paraglider Hasan Kaya took to the skies in southern Turkey with a bed pretending to sleep. Kaval has previously attached a metal-framed red leather sofa with wheels and a television to a parachute and took to the skies in Turkey’s southwestern Ölüdeniz neighborhood.
Some 40 medical chambers affiliated with the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) have released a joint statement reiterating their support for the organization. “We are fortunate to have our professional organization that prioritizes and defends the right of public health, and does not compromise when it comes to scientific and free thinking," the chambers said, following MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli's call for the TTB's closure.
Since early summer, forest fires have been raging in the Cudi Mountains in Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak amid claims that the blazes erupted due to deliberate military operations in the area. Ecologist Asrın Keleş from the People's Democratic Congress (HDK) said that it was abundantly clear that the fires did not erupt due to natural causes. "We received information that the forests were being shot with gunfire at night,” Keleş said.
A Turkish court sentenced former co-chair of Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Sebahat Tuncel to 11 months in prison on charges of "insulting" the president, because she said Erdoğan was "an enemy of women and Kurds."
Turkey's Court of Cassation, the top appeals court, has found a male employee at fault for using the women's toilet at the store where he was working at. The court rejected the employee's demand for a compensation after he was fired from his job.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has determined that dozens of firms and restaurants in Turkey use fake ingredients in their products to cut down on costs. With the Turkish lira continuing to decline in value as the country experiences a serious economic downturn, some food producers and restaurants are cutting on costs and cutting corners, and deceiving their customers in the process.
Several Turkish citizens have sent petitions to the parliament, raising their concerns about the safety of 5G technology. The parliament's committee on petition has asked the issue to the Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) and was told that Turkey was “working to produce the 5G infrastructure locally.”
Bursts of steam rising from Mount Nemrut have raised concern among locals, amid speculations that the dormant volcano can become active again if triggered by earthquakes. “There are many fault lines arund Mount Nemrut. If these fault lines are ruptured, theoretically a [volcanic] movement can occur in Mount Nemrut. This is always a possibility,” Prof. Dr. Aydın Büyük Saraç said.
Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has called for the reinstatement of his client's deputy status after the Constitutional Court ruled that the former CHP lawmaker's rights were violated when he was dismissed from parliament earlier this year.
President Erdoğan has said that the government is preparing to introduce new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, since "people have not complied with the rules." The virus infections began increasing after Ankara loosened restrictions on public activity, starting in June. Critics have also accused the government of hypocrisy with regards to the measures, pointing out that social distancing measures were being overlooked in several occasions, such as the rallies of the AKP.
Islamic communities that are known to have close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have recently speeded up efforts to establish their own foundations. On Sept. 17, two more such foundations have been established, one of which has close ties to the İsmailağa community, while the other has close ties to pro-government KİHMED.
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.
Various rights groups have said that human rights violations recorded in prisons have spiked during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a recent example of the rights violation, the groups said that authorities had confiscated several personal belongings of a group of inmates during their transfer to two newly opened Diyarbakır prisons.
The mother of a murder suspect was found dead with a single bullet to the back of her head on Sept. 17. Her son, a suspect in his girlfriend's death, her husband and the family's attorney blamed her death on TV host Müge Anlı because she had said the mother had "failed to raise a son."
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 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.
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.
The tomb and gold jewels of a woman dubbed the "Carian Princess" can now be seen in the Aegean province of Muğla's Bodrum Castle. Recovered in 1989, the body is thought to belong to a woman in her 40s.
Turkey's news agenda has focused on "renovations" that resulted in dramatic results, often adding incoherent elements. Most recently, footage of "renovation" in Istanbul's Galata Tower had shown workers drilling into original walls.