Economy
A U.S. judge has denied a request by Turkey's state-owned Halkbank to stop a federal prosecution accusing it of taking party in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. “Simply stated, the court rejects Halkbank’s efforts to avoid and delay appropriate district court proceedings,” Judge Richard Berman said.
Representatives of Turkey's biggest trade union confederation Türk-İş have walked out of minimum wage negotiations, saying that the newly determined amount would not even be sufficient to cover the expenses of a worker for 10 days, let alone 30 days. The country's labor, social services and family minister on Dec. 26 announced that the minimum wage for 2020 would be a net 2,324 Turkish Liras ($392) per month following weeks-long negotiations between employers and labor unions.
Despite Minister of City Planning and Environment Murat Kurum vowing that the land around the controversial Kanal Istanbul project would not be zoned for profitable development, a number of Arab businesspeople have purchased large swathes of land near the route of the project. Opposition CHP claims that “an Arab canton is nearly being established" in the area.
The Pentagon has awarded eight Turkish companies a total of $95 million for construction work and other projects for its bases in Turkey. The Pentagon's website posted information on the Turkish companies that "have been awarded a $95,000,000 multiple award firm-fixed-price, indefinite-order/indefinite-quantity contract for design-build, partial design and full design infrastructure requirements."
The Turkish Post (PTT) has totaled a loss of 1,5 billion Turkish liras over the past two years, following its transfer to Turkey Wealth Fund (TVF). At the time of the 2017 transfer, the PTT vault had a positive balance of 650 million liras and is at a negative of 900 million liras today. The TVF bought 5 million liras worth of air fresheners bought for PTT branches. 600,000 units were bought even though the PTT only has 3,800 branches.
An unemployment insurance fund established in 2000 by former Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit in order to support the jobless has transformed into a mechanism that supports employers. Figures indicate amount of money from the fund going to employers has doubled that of the amount going to unemployed people
The first Turkish-produced car was delivered by logistics company Ege Ekspress about two weeks ago, as reported by the daily Dünya. The public introduction to the vehicles will be done by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Dec. 27 and production will start in 2022.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that trade with national currencies has developed urgency. Speaking at the Kuala Lumpur Summit, Erdoğan suggested that Turkey could collaborate with Malaysia to work on 'finance without interest'.
Turkey’s central bank has launched a dollar-to-lira swap auction -- in a first since August -- to help boost its foreign reserves, while the banking watchdog has limited banks’ swap operations with non-residents. The result was Turkey's lira sliding to its weakest level in daily trade since May on Dec. 19.
Russia delivered its first batch of exported sugar to Turkey and Greece in November. The Turkey shipment was 1,400 tons and the one to Greece was 591 tons. Russia is expected to set a record for production levels with more than 7 million tons this year, according to the Russian Ministry of Agriculture.
Turkey's state-run Ziraat Bank has dropped its plan to buy 51 percent of the shares of Simit Sarayı, which is alleged to hold debts of up to half a billion dollars. The move came after President Erdoğan said that he would disapprove of such a takeover.
Turkey's Central Bank announced on Dec. 17 that the country's short-term external debt stock totaled $118 billion as of October. Half of the country's short-term foreign debt stock was in U.S. dollars, followed by 30.6 percent in euros, 13.4 percent in Turkish liras, and 6 percent in other currencies. The public sector's short-term debt, mainly of public banks, hit $21.7 billion, up 3.7 percent.
Turkey's Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) has sent an advisory document to the banks, saying that it's necessary to maintain a cautious policy aimed at keeping banks' resource structures and hence, the profits obtained in 2019 should not be distributed to shareholders and executives. "The profits and reserves kept under resources shouldn't be distributed in a way that would cause cash outflows," the BDDK said.
The Turkish lira depreciated 0.7 percent to 5.85 per dollar by 5:25 p.m. in Istanbul after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to close two critical NATO bases, Bloomberg reported on Dec. 16. The lira has already weakened more than any other emerging-market currency since Dec. 12, when the central bank cut rates a for a fourth straight meeting to 12 percent.
Turkey was placed on probation by the G-7 Financial Action Task Force for neglecting the prevention of financing terrorism and money laundering. Turkey will be considered for an "international gray list" by the end of the one-year probation period.
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Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Politics
Turkey's opposition parties have criticized the detention of HDP members CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel deemed the detentions "an intimidation operation" and asked the government whether new evidence was reached regarding the Kobane protests that happened six years ago. According to Özel, the recent detentions are attempts of the government to shift people's focus from the crumbling economy.
Turkish police on Sept. 25 detained some 20 HDP members, including Kars Co-Mayor Ayhan Bilgen, over 2014 violent protests against the siege by ISIS of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane. Detention warrants were issued for a total of 82 people in seven provinces. Those sought were in the MYK of the party at the time of the protests.
A group of opposition politicians slammed the construction of a 90-million-lira prison with a lake view in the eastern province of Van which government officials deemed "an investment." The opposition noted that the region has far more pressing needs than prisons and that hundreds of jails have been already built in recent years in Turkey.
Greek women from the Women's Initiative for Peace (WINPEACE) have slammed two Greek tabloids for their reports on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan allegedly having had an extramarital relationship with an actress. "We believe the fact that two newspapers in Greece, however marginal, have in the last week decided on publishing insulting, misogynist, shameful headlines, denigrating all human values is a despicable attempt to sabotage any positive developments," they said in a statement.
Turkey's Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects Chambers (TMMOB) has said that some 14 parcels on the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) land near the university masjid (prayer room for Muslims) have been zoned for construction. The architects urged the university administration to clarify the parcels' allocation and asked whether the land in question will be used for a mosque construction.
Turkey's depletion of foreign exchange reserves and the fact that a majority of its forex reserves are swap lines has created mass distrust in the economy, Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Chairman Simone Kaslowski said. Turkey needs to “ensure full market confidence” to attract long-term financing flows, Kaslowski said during a videoconference on Sept. 24.
Works to excavate an ancient Roman bath in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Yozgat have been stopped due to lack of financial funding. The area is now fenced off, and visitors are barred from entry.
İsmail Tarman Middle School in İstanbul's Beşiktaş district still remains closed despite four court rulings to reverse the school's status as religious İmam Hatip school. The rulings should have enabled for the school's reopening as a standard middle school, but the courts' decisions have not been enforced and the school's doors remain closed.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tore into President Donald Trump on Sept. 24 after he declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the presidential election in November. “You are not in North Korea, you are not in Turkey, you are not in Russia, Mr. President. You are in the United States of America, it is a democracy, so why don’t you just try for a moment to honor your oath of office, to the Constitution of the United States?” she said.
The governor's office in the Black Sea province of Giresun banned smoking cigarettes in public spaces on the grounds that it required removing face masks, hence risking the spread of COVID-19. The province will fine those smoking in the streets, parks or any other public spaces.
Turkey's largest seller of fish, Dardanel reportedly discriminated against Roma women who applied for positions at a factory. While the women weren't even called in for an interview, the company blamed the incident on the contracting hiring firm.
One of the Turkish Aegean Riviera's most pristine areas, Gökova Bay was rezoned to allow construction along with nearby Marmaris and Milas. Muğla Mayor Osman Gürün said that the rezoning threatens construction of 25,000 hectares of land, and that the are would effectively "cease to exist."
The Turkish parliament has failed to debate in its general session any draft bills prepared by any party other than the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the past two legislative sessions, daily Cumhuriyet reported. The AKP presented some 249 draft bills, 100 of which were reported on by the relevant commissions, while one of the CHP's 2,148 draft bills were investigated by commissions.
The Kızılırmak Delta Wetland and Bird Sanctuary in the Black Sea province of Samsun has observed raging fires since the reversal of its "protected area" status. While a part of the delta was transferred to the property of the government, environmentalists suspect the fires were started intentionally.
Local medical device companies have warned the Turkish Health Ministry that if debts owed by the government hospitals remain unpaid, there could be a “disruption in the health services” starting as early as in October. The Turkish Medical Equipment and Devices Manufacturers Association (TÜDER) has said that local medical firms have been waiting for the last 16 months to get their payment which has reached to around $26 billion Turkish Liras ($3.4 billion) in total.
Turkish Justice Ministry has dismissed a parliamentary question on the release of a rapist soldier for being "offensive." Uca in her question asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to reveal the reason for why former specialized sergeant Musa Orhan was released despite raping İpek Er. The ministry said that the question can be accepted if the terms found "crude and offensive" are removed.
Turkey reportedly didn't apprehend ISIS militant Yunus Durmaz responsible for deadly attacks in Turkey despite determining his location 19 times between April 29 and May 19, 2016. Durmaz, who was sought over the attacks in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, the Suruç district of the southeastern province of Urfa, the capital Ankara and Istanbul's Taksim, blew himself up during a police raid on an ISIS cell in 2016.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
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.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
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.
Urban Beat
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
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.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
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.