Economy
The United States is considering launching an investigation into digital services taxes of Turkey, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said.
According to a study conducted by a confederation of Turkish labor unions, overall expenses in October of this year increased by 36.9 percent. Meanwhile, the prices of electricity, natural gas, and fuel have risen by 60, 52, and 30 percent respectively. A lengthy list of prices increases concerning everything from food to furniture to electricity and fuel has weighed heavily upon shopkeepers.
The Turkish economy grew by 0.4 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous quarter on seasonal and calendar adjusted basis, the Turkish Statistical Institute said on Dec. 2. Compared with the same quarter of 2018, the Turkish economy expanded by 0.9 percent, the agency said.
Car sales have dropped below the market expectations of 600 yearly sales, which might force dealerships to shrink operations or even close. As a result of the economic crisis, the industry average for yearly sales had dropped from 1 million to 620 thousand last year, and are expected to drop further to 470 thousand.
Morgan Stanley is reportedly investigating suspected mismarking of securities to conceal losses of as much as $140 million in a portfolio handled day-to-day by London-based Scott Eisner, a 2014 Yale University graduate and associate at the firm. The wager was claimed to be tied to the Turkish lira, a currency that whipsawed investors in 2018 and earlier in 2019 amid mounting political tensions.
U.S. federal prosecutors have opposed Halkbank's request to make a “special appearance” in the Southern District of New York court to fight the charges that it helped Iran evade sanctions. The Turkish state-owned bank submitted such a request to seek dismissal of the case without it having to formally accept and answer the charges.
Turkish carrier Atlas Global Airlines has announced that it's temporarily suspending all its flights until Dec. 21. "The recent problems and the economic burden it brought about, as well as the major increase in logistic and operational costs stemming from moving to the new airport in April removed our possibility of making up for the costs we suffered in 2016/2017," the company said.
Based on a November study, the labor union Turk-İş has determined that the current hunger threshold for a family of four in Turkey is 2102 TL per month, while the poverty threshold for a family of the same size is 6489 TL. Regarding food products and other necessities, the study indicated the average monthly budget for a family has increased by 522 TL since last year.
Turkey's Koç Holding said there were ongoing negotiations with UniCredit on the reorganization of the shareholder structures of Koç Financial Services (KFS) and Yapı Kredi (YKB) “in such a manner to ensure that the parties shall not reach direct or indirect majority of YKB."
UniCredit has struck a deal to reduce its exposure to Turkey’s Yapı Kredi, a move seen as a first step toward the Italian bank’s full exit from the recession-hit country. As part of the plan, UniCredit will sell its 50 percent stake in its joint venture Koç Financial Services - which controls Yapı Kredi - to its partner Koç Holding.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has said that the company is reconsidering its decision to locate in Turkey, as he cited the country's military offensive in northern Syria as the basis of the move. "As long as people are being killed, we are not laying the foundation stone next to a battlefield," Diess said, adding that Volkswagen shares the assessment of the German government and the European Union on the military conflict in northern Syria.
The OECD has upgraded its gross domestic product predictions for the Turkish economy for this year, next year and 2021, while advising the country to make the macroeconomic policy framework simplified and more transparent to rebuild domestic and international confidence. "Investor confidence remains fragile and investment has declined sharply," it said.
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank said it should be able to challenge whether U.S. courts can hear the case at all before it entered a formal plea. The bank also rejected prosecutors' claim that it was a "fugitive." "As a corporation, Halkbank cannot be a 'fugitive' since it has no physical body to present," the bank said.
Turkey's annual top 100 taxpayer list has been announced. Out of the list of 100, 57 taxpayers asked to remain anonymous. The Turkish Central Bank came in the first place last year with 10.6 billion lira paid in taxes. With 6 places out of the top 10, banking still seems to be the highest earning sector in Turkey.
The latest unemployment figures, pertaining to the month of August, were released on Nov. 15 by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜIK) indicating that unemployment increased 2.9 percent from the same month in the previous year, reaching 14 percent.
Editor's Pick
Soner Çağaptay and Raffaella A. Del Sarto write: The EU often praises itself as a promoter of democracy and regional stability by highlighting the power of its enlargement process to include new members in the “neighbourhood.” Yet in the case of Turkey, its ill-conceived policies may well have contributed to the opposite. A clumsy EU has repeatedly gotten its policy toward Turkey wrong, often inadvertently helping Erdoğan at key points during his rise while creating preventable tensions with Ankara.
Politics
Russia's President Vladimir Putin called on Oct. 29 for an immediate ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh and peace talks that would review proposals from many countries including Turkey.
Turkey's testing of Russian S-400 missile defense systems continues to draw rebuke from the United States. "That risk is very real because they… continue to pursue the S-400. And, of course, with the testing of it, sanctions is very much something that is on the table," R. Clarke Cooper, the top State Department official in charge of arms sales, said on Oct. 28.
A 120-year-old woman living in Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak has beaten the novel coronavirus. Following a 15-day-long treatment, Menica Encü was discharged from hospital accompanied by applauds on Oct. 28.
A Turkish court has sentenced a high school teacher to 52 years and five months in jail for sexually abusing five of his students. Child advocates have been calling for better sex abuse prevention for years. The Turkish government says it will work on prevention but has not specified how.
Twelve women who were violently detained by police during a femicide protest are now facing charges of battery from police officers, the indictment against them revealed. The women are primarily accused of holding an illegal assembly in protest of the brutal murder of 27-year-old Pınar Gültekin.
Some 210 migrants were discovered inside the trailer of a freight lorry in the eastern province of Van on Oct. 29. Migration officials reportedly searched the lorry during routine road controls and detained the lorry driver. Some 18 of the migrants were children.
Unmonitored and extensive mining in eastern Turkey threatens to destroy all life in the area, an environmental activist said. Divriği Life and Nature Platform has launched a social media campaign to organize locals against mining.
Turkey's parliament, hampered by the increased authority granted to the presidency after the country transitioned to a presidential system two year ago, has received a budget hike of 8.4 percent for the upcoming year. Parliament Speaker Şentop said that parliament had been working at full speed in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some 20 non-governmental organizations slammed Istanbul Municipality's search for a landscape design for the city's iconic Taksim Square on the grounds that the process didn't allow for "democratic input" from all stakeholders. Istanbul Municipality held a design contest for potential landscapes for Taksim Square that yielded three final projects on Sept. 20, which were offered up to the public for voting.
Turkey's largest mining union Maden-İş blasted miners who are members of the organization and who are striking for severance pay as "provocateurs." Laborers from two mines in Turkey have roused up attention recently by marching to the capital of Ankara in protest of being denied their rights.
An ancient church in the southeastern province of Mardin once belonging to Turkey's dwindling Assyrian community is being sold by its owner. The owners of the property gave up on selling the ancient church in 2015 after fierce reaction mounted against the sale, though realtor Mahsum Altay said there were no legal obstacles to selling the church.
President Erdoğan has said that Armenia employed PKK and YPG militants to fight against Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. "They say, 'You're sending foreign militants to Azerbaijan from Syria.' I told Mr. President [Putin] that around 2,000 PKK and YPG militants are fighting for Armenia with 600$ salary," Erdoğan said, to which Putin reportedly responded by saying, "I don't know about that."
AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik deemed CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's call on First Lady Emine Erdoğan to burn her Hermes handbag following calls to boycott French goods "violence against women." President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a harsher tone, saying, "If you have the guts, talk about me."
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Oct. 28 raised the alarm about a 62 percent weekly surge in number of COVID-19 cases in the country's most populated city Istanbul, describing the infection rate as "frightening." "If we don’t get the situation in Istanbul under control, the outbreak will spiral out of control,” Koca said in a press conference, following a meeting of the government's science board.
Turkey's opposition Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener urged the president to respond to "adolescent-like European leaders with statesmanship" instead of the "same adolescent attitude." The chairwoman's comments are in reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's brawl with French President Emmanuel Macron over the latter's strong stance against "Islamist separatism."
A new metro line running between Istanbul's neighborhoods of Mecidiyeköy and Mahmutbey on the European side opened on Oct. 28. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu announced that the new line will be at the service of Istanbulites for free for the first 10 days.
Ali Babacan, the former deputy prime minister from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who founded the opposition DEVA in March, has said that critics of the government are being arrested or left unemployed for just expressing their opinions. “People are being detained just for speaking, for writing. You cannot consider a thought a crime. If you want just one opinion to persist in this country, this cannot happen. It is impossible,” Babacan said.
Turkish police on Oct. 28 detained five people over their alleged involvement in the suicide bombing that shook Hatay's İskenderun district earlier this week. İskenderun was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 which the authorities blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
President Erdoğan has asked whether people believe that "anyone can't bring home the bread." "Do you believe that anyone can't bring home the bread? Do you think such thing exists in Turkey? Turkey is ahead of many countries in terms of its minimum wage and salaries," Erdoğan told reporters, adding that Turkey is "at a great spot" when one looks at data from the IMF and OECD.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank Governor Murat Uysal said that it has no target on exchange rates as the lira touched a new low for a third day on Oct. 28. Uysal said higher import costs, with the lira tumbling to record lows beyond 8.3 to the dollar, rising food prices and strong credit growth were the main causes of the upward revision.
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.