Diplomacy
The United Nations has received "numerous" reports of looting and destruction in two towns outside Tripoli retaken by the forces of Libya's internationally recognized government, which are backed by Turkey, it said on June 7. "We have received numerous reports of the looting and destruction of public and private property in Tarhouna and Alasabaa, which in some cases appear to be acts of retribution and revenge that risk further fraying Libya's social fabric."
Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos has not ruled out the possibility of a "military conflict" with Turkey, saying that his country is ready for any scenario to defend its rights. "We do not want to go there, but we want to make it clear that we will do whatever it takes to defend our sovereign rights to the fullest extent possible,” Panagiotopoulos said on June 4.
Turkish President Erdoğan and Libya's GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj met in the capital Ankara on June 4. In a news conference, Erdoğan said both countries plan to advance cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, including exploration and drilling activities.
Prime Minister of the Netherlands said that travelers returning from Turkey would be placed under quarantine for 15 days, and urged citizens to avoid traveling to the country if possible. Turkey remains on an "orange list" of countries to be avoided if possible, potentially hurting an otherwise frugal touristic relationship between the states.
Turkey's Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun has claimed that the left-wing Antifa movement is "cooperating" with the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. Altun's comment came after U.S. President Donald Trump said that he would declare the Antifa movement a terrorist organization over its role at protests and riots in the country.
Germany is talking to Ankara about reviewing travel restrictions with Turkey but is waiting for a European Union recommendation before taking any decisions, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on June 3. "We see that Turkey is making great efforts, but I can't give a forecast on how and when a decision will be taken," he added.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on June 2 announced that it is launching investigations into digital services taxes that have been adopted or are under consideration in a host of trading partners to determine whether they are discriminatory and burden U.S. commerce. The investigations will examine taxes that have been adopted in Austria, India, Indonesia, Italy and Turkey.
Murat Yetkin writes: January 2020 was a turning point in terms of Turkish-Italian relations. It would soon become clear that this wasn’t limited to diplomatic relations. We now learned that the two countries were conducting a joint intelligence operation amid the COVID-19 epidemic. Nevertheless, the most evident aspect, at the time, had to do with diplomacy.
Turkey's National Security Council, chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said that the country will continue providing “military consultancy" to the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in western Libya.
The head of the Russian Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugayev, said that Moscow is awaiting Ankara's final decision on the delivery of the second batch of Russia's S-400 missile defense systems. "Dialogue on the deliveries of the second regimental batch of the S-400 are on quite an advanced stage, and we await the final decision of the Turkish side," he said.
The presidential communications director of Turkey, which is the country that ranks near bottom of various press freedom indexes and is the world's biggest jailer of journalists, condemned the wounding of TRT World journalists by police in the United States and urged press freedom. "Press freedom is the backbone of democracy," Fahrettin Altun tweeted late on June 1. "I will raise this issue with the relevant U.S. officials without delay," he also said.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Berlin was considering lifting travel bans to Turkey if the course of the COVID-19 pandemic doesn't worsen and sufficient preventative measures are implemented. The decision will also depend on the preventative measures in beaches and hotels, as Germany is among Turkey's top tourist importer.
United Nations investigators have revealed a short-lived secret mission in Libya that aimed to prevent shipments of Turkish-supplied weapons from reaching the government in Tripoli by sea. According to the U.N., the plan was to create a marine strike force using speedboats and attack helicopters that would board and search merchant ships.
Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has said that Ankara is loyal to its agreement with Russia on the S-400 missile defense systems, adding that there were delays because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "We're loyal to our agreement on S-400s just like we were previously," Kalın said in an interview on May 26, adding that Turkey is open to negotiations with the United States if it agrees to send Patriot missiles.
An aircraft belonging to Israeli airline El Al landed in Istanbul on May 24 for the first time in 10 years following a severe diplomatic spat between the two countries. According to the Israeli Embassy in Turkey, El Al will carry out flights between the two countries, which will "contribute to the trade between them in reaching record levels."
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Mois Gabay writes: In my childhood years, I remember wandering in the streets of Beyoğlu alongside my father. Pera was living its last days. At the end of the street near the French Consulate, lay “Tailor Ragıp.” Mr. Ragıp was famous for making trousers that would fit you perfectly. Tailor Blum had trained him.
İslam Özkan writes: Rather than dividing it, it appears that Turkey’s strategy and polarizing policies in Libya have contributed to unifying the enemy camp. Though the attack against the al-Wattiyah airbase did not inflict huge damage on Turkey’s air defense system, Turkey’s efforts in Libya will likely get harder in the future.
Ülkü Doğanay writes: Maybe in January 2016, if the former prime minister, who now resents his colleagues and who kept quiet before the events regarding Şehir University, had remembered that he was also an academic benefiting from free expression, then universities may not have been in the dark position they are in today.
Politics
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Turkey has been declining steadily since June 25, but cautioned the public not to flout measures in place to stem the spread of the virus. "Let's not forget that these decreases [in case numbers] are happening slowly, whereas increases are happening suddenly," he said.
Turkey's Human Rights Association (İHD) has called for the release of Eylem Oyunlu, who is currently behind bars in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on charges of 'assisting a terror organization' with her two young children. Oyunlu's 3-week-old baby is suffering from a blocked tear duct and the two-year-old has chronic bronchitis.
A non-governmental women's platform urged the government to stop proceedings on a legal amendment that would grant amnesty to sexual predators. The platform also urged the government to not consider recusing from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty against domestic violence and violence against children.
Turkey's media watchdog issued 73 percent of broadcast interruption fines to the same four news broadcasters that are critical of the government, a report by non-governmental organization Transparency International revealed.
84 percent of Turkish citizens expect a second wave of the novel coronavirus epidemic, based on the results of a survey conducted from June 29-July 2 among more than 2,000 people in all of the country’s 81 provinces. 90 percent of people surveyed indicated that the virus had negatively impacted Turkey's economy.
The European Parliament held a debate entitled “Stability and Security in the Mediterranean and the negative role of Turkey” on July 9. Several MEPs called for a complete end to accessions talks with Turkey, saying the country should no longer receive payments from the EU budget as part of pre-accession support.
Turkey has voiced discontent with the United States' decision to provide International Military Education and Training (IMET) to Greek Cypriot soldiers in accordance with the 2020 fiscal year appropriations act. "This and similar steps do not contribute to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue, but on the contrary, lead to strengthening the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot side," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
A recent simulation by Istanbul Municipality revealed the southern suburbs of the city to be the highest-risk areas in a potential earthquake. While the suburbs are located on both sides of the city, they're all placed alongside the southern Marmara Sea shoreline.
The Istanbul Convention, an international initiative that aims to combat domestic violence against women, has led to fractures within the ruling AKP as one of the party's lawmakers has said that she is puzzled why the convention has come under attack after so many years. AKP MP Canan Kalsın asked why the convention turned into a “scapegoat” nine years after it was signed in Istanbul.
Attending a demonstration can't be a proof of terrorist organization membership, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in the case of four applicants from Turkey. The applicants faced the said accusation for attending a demonstration in 2008, with the ECHR saying that their rights to freedom of assembly were violated.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to carry out a cabinet reshuffle and rearrange ministries. Erdoğan might part ways with three to four ministers, sources told Duvar, adding that two ministries, including the Family and Social Services Ministry, might be divided into two.
The police force of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) early on July 9 shot two Syrian refugees for attempting to run away after arriving at a beach on a boat. The TRNC police said that refugees continued to run away despite warning shots, and eventually they opened fire on them, injuring two.
A tender for hunting mountain goats in eastern Dersim was scheduled despite public outcry against it. Endemic to the Munzur Valley National Park, mountain goats are considered sacred among locals.
A parliamentary commission revealed that some 462 children in Turkey died under suspicious conditions in 2019. Police data showed that 21 children's deaths were suicides and 29 were the result of poisoning.
Four U.S. senators have penned a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying that Turkey's expulsion from the F-35 supply chain needs to be expedited, regardless of what the cost is. They said that the Defense Department's delay regarding the matter “has undermined the effectiveness of our clear message to the Turks.”
Turkey tested Russian-made S-400 air defense systems on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in November 2019, a source close to the Turkish defense industry told TASS on July 7. "Yes, such trials have indeed taken place last November," the source told TASS when asked to comment on several media reports.
The main opposition CHP’s proposal calling for an investigation into last week's deadly explosion at a Sakarya fireworks factory has been rejected by the votes of the AKP and MHP lawmakers.
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the country will soon start mass production of favipiravir, a drug used in COVID-19 treatment, as the licensing process is expected to be completed in a couple of days. Koca said that the country will sell it on the international market and also use it to treat its own coronaviurus patients.
Economy
Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said that Turkey was an exception to the global financial crisis emerging in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The minister said that Turkey has been outperforming other countries in "all measures of economic success."
Foreign investment in Istanbul's stock exchange fell below 50 percent for the first time since 2004, daily Sözcü reported. Almost four billion dollars have reportedly been sold out of the exchange in the first six months of 2020.
Turkey's foreign trade deficit doubled between January and May as exports fell by 20 percent. The monthly trade deficit also doubled in May, surpassing $3 billion.
The Turkish Competition Authority has launched a probe into German automotive giants Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The authority's announcement on July 1 came as Volkswagen AG canceled plans to build a car factory in Turkey after the coronavirus pandemic jolted auto markets.
Urban Beat
Fossils discovered by a nature enthusiast in mountainous eastern province of Iğdır revealed that the area, now completely landlocked, used to be a shore and underwater. The fossils contained palm leaves, which grow in hot areas by the water.
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry will be turning the iconic Galata Tower into a museum. The ministry will also launch a "culture route" that spans from the tower, along Istiklal Avenue and to Taksim Square. Minister Ersoy also said that the construction of the AKM would be completed within a month, ongoing since February 2019.
The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) likened railroads and highways in Turkey's capital Ankara to arteries in an eagle-eye shot of the city at night, dubbed "photo of the day" on June 28.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on June 25 announced that the municipality purchased a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II at a London auction. According to the London-based world-famous Christie's auction house, the municipality's winning bid amounted to £770,000 ($955,000) for the oil painting, which is believed to be the work of Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.