Economy
After more than three months of resistance, Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank has agreed to appear in the New York court to face criminal charges that it helped Iran evade U.S. sanctions. The bank is expected to enter its plea on March 3.
The gold and dollar exchange rates in Turkey surged to record highs Feb. 24, dropping again on Feb. 25 after markets opened and traders started to sell. Dollar prices rose as high as 6.16 TL during the day, marking a new high for the last 9 months. The price of 1 ounce of gold reached $1,688, and the price of one gram of gold reached a record price of 334 TL.
Governments across the world are starting to use more fiscal firepower to boost economies as the coronavirus outbreak is taking a toll on the global economy. Also, central banks across the world have announced that they are “closely monitoring” the risk from the coronavirus outbreak, as investors increasingly expect the Fed to lower interest rates by 25 basis points next month.
German automaker Volkswagen has once again delayed plans to establish a factor producing its vehicles in Turkey.The factory was previously delayed last October amid Turkey's Operation Peace Spring into northeastern Syria, where Turkish armed forces alongside Ankara-backed Syrian rebel squads drove out the Kurdish People's Protection Forces (YPG) from territory it controlled in the region.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has hindered the import of Chinese sunflower seeds to the central Anatolian province of Kayseri. While stocks are used up and no imports are expected soon, vendors predict sunflower seed prices to increase up to double the current 20 Turkish Liras per kilo.
Borsa Istanbul will remove two zeros from its indices on April 27, it said on Feb. 19. The stock exchange will test this move in several phases. "Planned go live date is April 27, 2020 and the index values will continue to be shown in two decimal places. Contract sizes will be decreased to 10 from 100. Price ticks for futures will be increased to 0.25 from 0.025," it noted.
Turkey's opposition parties CHP and HDP have castigated a banking bill the government has sought to push through. Both parties claimed the law will serve to fund the president's "Kanal Istanbul" project.
Turkey's Competition Board has ultimately fined tech giant Google 98.3 million Turkish liras for violating the terms of fair competition due to unfair access to advertisement space. Last March, the board opened an investigation into claims that Google uses abusive tactics to quash its rivals.
Journalist Murat Yetkin, in his last piece, analyzed the state of Turkish economy and its effects over domestic political calculations of President Tayyip Erdoğan. Yetkin argued that under the ongoing economic circumstances, an early election for Erdoğan will be too risky and unnecessary.
Turkey's current account balance posted a deficit of $2.8 billion in December 2019, the Turkish Central Bank said on Feb. 14. Official data showed that the figure widened by $1.7 billion from same month the previous year.
The ruling AKP has reportedly resumed an effort to transfer the main opposition CHP's 28.1 percent stake in İşbank to the Treasury. AKP deputy chair Canikli presented a draft proposal regarding the issue to Erdoğan, who called for it to be revised and presented to him again "as soon as possible," daily Hürriyet reported on Feb. 13.
Turkey's Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) ruled that Turkish banks are allowed to swap only 10 percent of their legal capital. In August 2018, The BDDK had already lowered the limit of swaps, futures, forwards and options with a foreign currency and a Turkish Lira leg to 25 percent of the banks’ legal capital.
Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin who grew up in Ankara was named the richest person in Russia by Forbes Magazine. Often dubbed "the Oligarch from Ankara" for the time he spent there while his father served as USSR Embassy's trade attaché, Potanin has an estimated worth of $25 billion.
The total amount of Turkish lira held in bank accounts in Turkey reached the 1.2 trillion TL mark, while accounts denominated for foreign currency held $224.7 billion, according to recent Central Bank figures pertaining to the week ending on January 31. The amount of consumer credit stood at 460.5 billion TL, while the amount of installment commercial loans totaled 379.5 billion TL. More than a third of the consumer credit, 188.8 billion TL, pertained to mortgage and housing loans.
The fugitive founder of a pyramid scheme called "Farm Bank" reportedly receives money transfers of about one million Turkish liras each month, Yeni Şafak daily reported. Rumored to be in Brazil, Aydın reportedly receives funds through four or five crypto-currency accounts, daily Yeni Şafak reported.
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.