Diplomacy
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the massive United States Navy ship the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams will be based at a joint U.S.-Greek base -- a move which experts said could serve as Washington’s eagerness to reduce American military reliance on Turkey.
İbrahim Kalın, spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has criticized U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden over his comments that Turkey should stay out of the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict. “Would you ask Armenia to end the occupation too? Or would you simply cave in to the smear campaigns of the Armenian lobby?” Kalın asked in a tweet addressing Biden.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia doesn't approve of Turkey's statements declaring support for Azerbaijan amid hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. "Of course, we do not support such statements, we do not agree with them," the Kremlin spokesman said, reiterating his recent words that "there is no need to add fuel to the fire."
Turkey and Greek Cyprus, sharply at odds over rights in the Mediterranean, made competing claims on Sept. 30 for support from the European Union. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey expected the EU to continue the positive momentum gained from diplomatic efforts to establish dialogue with Greece, while Greek Cyprus - a bloc member - called for solidarity and action against Ankara.
Armenia posted pictures on an online government platform on Sept. 30 of the wreckage of a plane it said was a SU-25 warplane shot down by a Turkish fighter jet on Sept 29. An aide to Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said on the same day that two Armenian SU-25 fighter jets were destroyed on Sept. 29 after crashing into a mountain, and accused Yerevan of lying about one of its planes being shot down.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sept. 30 Turkey's "warlike" rhetoric was encouraging Azerbaijan to reconquer Nagorno-Karabakh and that was unacceptable. "France remains extremely concerned by the warlike messages Turkey had in the last hours, which essentially remove any of Azerbaijan's inhibitions in reconquering Nagorno-Karabakh. And that we won't accept," Macron said.
Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun denied Yerevan's claims that a Turkish F-16 shot down an Armenian SU-25 fighter jet on Sept. 29. The Armenian Defense Ministry said earlier that the SU-25 warplane was over Armenian territory and the pilot was killed as a result.
Syrian rebel militants have signed up to work for a private Turkish security company as border guards in Azerbaijan, several volunteers in Idlib told The Guardian. Both the Armenian government and Russian media have alleged that up to 4,000 Syrian men are already present in Nagorno-Karabakh, claims which have been denied by Baku as “nonsense."
Four Turkish political parties on Sept. 28 unanimously condemned what they saw as the Armenian attack on Azerbaijan. Turkey supports Azerbaijan’s right to self-defense to ensure its territorial integrity, a joint statement said.
The New York Times reported on Sept. 28 that Trump Towers Istanbul has netted U.S. President Donald Trump $1 million in 2016 and 2017. Trump has long had business ties in and with Turkey, the most visible example being the Trump Towers Istanbul, which licenses the Trump name.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on Armenia to "immediately end the occupation" of disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians. Erdoğan said the Minsk group - which is led by Russia, France and the United States and mediates between Armenia and Azerbaijan - had failed to solve the issue for almost 30 years.
Armenia accused Turkey on Sept. 28 of providing direct military support for Azerbaijan. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Turkish military experts "are fighting side by side" with Azerbaijan, which it said was also using Turkish weapons including drones and warplanes.
Turkish prosecutors have prepared a second indictment in connection with the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. The indictment against the six suspects, including two consulate workers and four other Saudi nationals, was sent to the court to be combined with the main case.
Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has said that Turkey ees a European Union summit this week as an opportunity to reset relations between them, but the bloc must produce specific proposals and a timetable to work on a roadmap together. "It must be a mutual process. If Turkey is expected to do X, Y, Z, EU countries must fulfil their responsibilities as well," Kalın said.
American reality TV celebrity Kim Kardashian West on Sept. 27 called on the United States to warn Turkey to stop sending arms and fighters to Baku amid the clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Kardashian said that “Armenia has been the victim of unprovoked attacks by Azerbaijan," claiming that the attacks are accompanied by a “predictable disinformation campaign."
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Şenay Aydemir writes: It seems like Netflix, rather than providing resources to Turkey and contributing to the advancement of the sector, chooses to work with producers that already have a strong share in the market. Though the Netflix Turkey team claims they are open to all kinds of projects and ideas, they are obviously more open to certain ideas, projects and production companies.
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Ankara's conflict-oriented foreign policy has received the public's support for military operations, but public opinion often fails to translate into votes. While Ankara's "enemy" in military conflict is ever-changing, the northern Syria conflict was revealed to be the only intervention that expanded the government's voter base.
Politics
Turkey's southernmost province of Hatay was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 and authorities said that two militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were nabbed following the blast. Hatay Governor Rahmi Doğan said that the two militants were a part of a group of four who had flown from the Syrian town of Manbij to the Amanos Mountains in Hatay using paramotors.
A report prepared by a number of civil society organizations regarding trials in Turkey prosecuting conscientious objectors to mandatory military service in the country has influenced the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to pressure Turkey on recognizing the right to conscientious objection.
President Erdoğan and the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar on Oct. 26 voiced their support for a two-state solution on the divided island of Cyprus. "We believe a two-state solution must now be brought to the table with a realistic proposal," Erdoğan said. Erdoğan also said that he would visit Turkish Cyprus on Nov. 15 and expressed his desire to have a picnic at Varosha.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 78 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were killed and dozens more were injured in Russian airstrikes on a military training camp in Idlib. Those targeted were in a camp belonging to Faylaq al-Sham, the monitor said, adding that it was the deadliest attack since the ceasefire came into force in March.
The second indictment against human rights defender and businessman Osman Kavala presents no new grounds to justify his detention and is politically motivated, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in a statement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged the UNESCO to release its report on the restoration works in the iconic Hagia Sophia as soon as possible. Lavrov said that for Russia Hagia Sophia is particularly valuable from the spiritual point of view.
Twenty-eight of Istanbul's 39 districts have registered more than 50 percent increase in COVID-19 infections in the past week compared to the average of this month, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. “The increase rate is 50-60 percent in 11 districts, 60-70 percent in 10 districts, and 70-80 percent in seven districts,” he told reporters on Oct. 26.
A Canadian vehicle manufacturer has suspended the delivery of aircraft engines to Turkey in the wake of reports that some of those engines are being used on Turkish combat drones deployed by Azerbaijan in its conflict against Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Former main opposition CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has appealed to the Constitutional Court following two lower courts' refusal to retry him over violations of his rights to participate in politics and personal freedom.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a worker to enjoy a nice cup of tea as the latter complained of not being able to bring home bread. Erdoğan said that the worker's plea sounded like a huge exaggeration, evoking infamous French ruler Marie-Antoinette who told the people to eat cake if they can't find bread.
A dynamite blast in the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant damaged cars that were parked in the nearby lot, ANKA News Agency reported on Oct. 25. Locals have complained from the use of dynamite in the construction before, saying that the dust harms their crops, and the blasts have even cracked the walls of their homes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has challenged the United States on a sanctions threat over Ankara’s support to Baku in its clashes with Armenia. "You [Americans] do not know who you are playing with. Go ahead with your sanctions," Erdoğan said. He also slammed the U.S. for not delivering promised F-35 fighter jets.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that Baku would use Turkish F-16 jets in case of an external attack on the country. "They've been asking me about why Turkish F-16s are here. I'm tired of answering. Everyone knows that the F-16s are waiting. They came here for a drill and our Turkish brothers kept them here for moral support. They'll see those F-16s if there is an external attack on us," Aliyev said.
Mehmet Ayışığı is a well-known and well-liked figure in Istanbul's Kurtuluş neighborhood, wandering the streets and calling out to customers with his signature voice. After Ayışığı's cart was confiscated by the Şişli Municipality due to noise complaints, area residents marched together with the vendor in a gesture of solidarity against police.
Known for its lush natural beauty, the environmental integrity of the town of Şavşat is under threat due to a hydroelectric power plant, where construction is due to continue despite being previously blocked by a regional court. “The people of the area are very determined. They will definitely not allow the construction of a hydroelectric power plant,” said Tahsin Yazıcı of the Kireçli village, saying that the villagers would use their democratic rights.
Turkish law enforcement detained some 38 journalists in the first eight months of 2020, a report by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) revealed. Meanwhile, access to 53 news stories and 75 websites was blocked. Charges of insulting the president resulted in the detention of 24 people, the arrest of three and an investigation into one person.
Istanbul police violently detained around 40 members of a pro-Kurdish youth union involving pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) Youth Assembly, Mesopotamia Agency reported on Oct. 25. Police claimed that a banner held up by demonstrators was criminal on the grounds that it displayed a photo of İbrahim Kaypakkaya, a deceased Turkish leftist.
Economy
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that the economy is growing despite the tumbling Turkish Lira. The lira weakened to a record low on Oct. 26, hit by investor unease over the central bank's decision last week to keep its policy rate on hold and various sources of geopolitical concern. Strains in ties with the United States, a row with France, a dispute between Turkey and Greece over maritime rights and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh have all unsettled investors.
Turkish monthly inflation was almost four times greater than the official rate in September, according to a new model developed by a group of academics and researchers. According to the independent Inflation Research Group (ENAG)'s first published finding, consumer prices in September rose 3.61 percent from the previous month, compared to the official Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK)'s calculation of 0.97 percent increase.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
The Turkish government has said that it "laughs off" boycotts imposed on Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates. "We laugh off some countries' boycotts against Turkey. They should first learn to stand as independent countries," AKP deputy leader Numan Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 18.
Urban Beat
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.