Coronavirus
Turkey’s major labor and trade unions released a petition April 1 including seven recommendations to the government in the fight against COVID-19. Most items urge the government to establish protective measures to shield workers and vulnerable parts of society.
AKP deputy Recep Özel wrote on Twitter that 245 of 268 coronavirus patients in Turkey's western province of Isparta were pilgrims who were placed in the province's student dormitories as part of quarantine measures. Just minutes later, Özel deleted his tweets.
Cemil Taşçıoğlu, an internal medicine professor of Istanbul Çapa University, has become the first doctor to die of coronavirus in Turkey. The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said that Taşçıoğlu had contracted the virus while treating the country's first confirmed coronavirus patient.
Turkey’s deaths from the coronavirus increased by 63 to 277 on April 1, as the government shared geographic distribution of cases for the first time. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Istanbul has 8,852 patients which constitutes 60 percent of all cases in the country. The megacity was followed by İzmir, with 853 cases, and Ankara, with 712 cases.
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) has issued a fatwa on donating zakats to the state's campaign that was launched to collect money to be used in the country's struggle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "What one needs to be careful about is that the person donating money should state that it's zakat," Diyanet said.
The Izmir Medical Chamber was banned from sharing links from their own website on their social media accounts March 31. The social media websites involved did not notify the users of any ban, and the chamber called for the block to be removed swiftly.
Turkey’s parliament will start checking visitors’ body temperatures with no-contact thermometers, an official notice said March 30. While the ruling targets visitors only, lawmakers will be eligible for a body temperature check as well if they wish.
Istanbul police raided a men-only game club/coffee house March 31, fining the 26 guests and detaining the owner. The business was sealed off as it lacked a trade license and was operating in violation of COVID-19 precautions.
Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree students in Turkey will be allowed to freeze their enrollment for the Spring 2020 semester that will be carried out entirely remotely to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Council of Higher Education (YÖK) said April 1. The time students suspend enrollment will not count toward their normal limit for freezing enrollment.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has praised Turkey for sending medical aid to Spain and Italy, the countries worst hit by the novel coronavirus in Europe, saying that he is proud to see NATO allies supporting each other through the alliance's disaster relief center. "#NATO solidarity in action: Turkey sending a cargo plane with medical supplies to Italy & Spain today to support our joint fight against #COVID19," said Stoltenberg on Twitter on April 1.
Madhuvanthi Srinivasan reports: Amid the lockdown and the restrictions on the movement of international flights in and out of India, 65 Turkish nationals are stranded across the country. While the Turkish Embassy in New Delhi has taken down the information of those stranded, they’ve asked everybody to stay wherever they are till things improve. Stranded Turks fear that the lockdown, which is due to end on April 15, would be extended.
As the country that has suffered the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus epidemic, Italy is frequently used to compare the situation of other countries. Italian statistics experts talking to the BBC's Turkish service said that comparing Italy and Turkey is like comparing apples and oranges as the progression curve of the virus is not shaping out the same way in two countries.
Turkey has a shortage of about 15,000 critical care nurses who are essential for COVID-19 treatment, Critical Care Nurses Association warned. While the Health Ministry promised to appoint 11,000 nurses to combat the coronavirus outbreak, association chair Ebru Kıraner notes that these nurses will not be ready to fill in during the crisis.
Turkey has sent medical aid packages with Jalaluddin Rumi's words on to Italy and Spain, the countries worst hit by the novel coronavirus in Europe, to help their fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness," read the banners placed on the aid packages.
A group of healthcare workers who tried to make an announcement in front of a university hospital regarding the necessary precautions that should be taken against coronavirus were taken into custody on Tuesday in Ankara. The workers, who stood outside of Ankara University's İbni Sina Hospital while wearing masks and gloves were prevented from making their statement by police.
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
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.
The second leg of Turkey's Rafting Championship took off in the southeastern province of Hakkari on Oct. 27. The four-day event brought together 400 athletes from across the country. Both male and female athletes will compete in categories for downstream rafting, slalom and RX, a unique sub-category of the sport.
A Turkish man named Ömer İ. shot and killed his ex-fiancé and her mother hours after the young woman petitioned for a restraining order against him on Oct. 27. The assailant committed suicide during a stand-off with police shortly after.
The cover-up of the ancient mosaics and frescoes was "unqualified to the point of destroying the structure's character and artistic value," Istanbul Municipality Deputy Secretary General Mahir Polat said. The 4th-century museum was transferred to the property of the state's religious authority, and will open for Muslim worship on Oct. 30.
Public housing residents of southern Hatay who lost their homes in a recent forest fire are still expecting the government to help them, weeks after they were rendered homeless by the flames. While many officials visit the area regularly, they merely take pictures and leave, housing complex residents said.
Leader of ruling People's Alliance member Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, babbled during his weekly speech at the party's group meeting as he forgot the word "cake." The chairman accused opposition parties of preparing to eat cake in Paris once he managed to speak again, possibly a reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's row with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Former Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, who heads the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), has said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's call for a boycott of call was “childish” and "a propaganda." "There are products carrying French brands that are produced in Turkey. They are produced here but their brand is French. What are we going to do, boycott those too?" he said.
Medical staff in both public and private institutions will not be allowed to quit their jobs during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a notice issued by Turkey's Health Ministry on Oct. 27. The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) released a statement with regards to the ministry's new regulation saying it is “unacceptable" at a time when the COVID-19 is still not being recognized as an occupational illness and healthcare staff are not being tested for the virus on a regular basis.
Firefighters have been battling the forest fires that erupted in the southern provinces of Adana, Mersin and Hatay on Oct. 27. Authorities have said that teams have been trying to bring the fires under control and some houses have been evacuated to keep locals safe.
The Turkish Lira further lost its value on Oct. 27, measuring more than 8.1 liras on the dollar as a result of more than 35 percent depreciation this year. The depreciation is a result of Ankara's increasingly strained relationship with the European Union, as well as the United States.
The German government has said that the Erdoğan regime has in recent years increased its support for Milli Görüş, an Islamist group monitored by German intelligence services due to alleged extremist leanings. In its response to a parliamentary question, the German government has also emphasized the links between Milli Görüş and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The ruling AKP has turned down the opposition's demand for budget discussions to be aired live on the official channel of parliament, called TBMM TV. The opposition deputies have said that these talks need to be conducted in a “transparent” manner as it concerns the people, with a CHP lawmaker saying that Turkey has not experienced such a “dark period” in its history before.
An employee of the United States’ Istanbul consulate was handed five years and two months in prison on charges of aiding the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. The court did not arrest Nazmi Mete Cantürk, meaning he will be free pending appeal.
HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar has said that the party condemns extremists' abuse of Islam to justify their violent actions, but also slams France's treatment of Islam in a row about cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Many prisoners in Turkey, particularly political prisoners, are held in facilities hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from their families, making it very difficult for visitation. Requests by prisoners for transfer to a closer penal institution are now being rejected by the authorities on account of the coronavirus.
As coronavirus cases surge in Istanbul, Governor Ali Yerlikaya said that he can be a "scapegoat" if anyone's looking for someone to blame. The governor also said that he has been working closely with Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu. “My job is not politics, it is service. To that end, I am continually in contact with İmamoğlu. You should know that we are working very well [together]. There is no problem whatsoever,” he said.
Turkish police have apprehended seven ISIS militants who were preparing for attacks in the capital Ankara in the latest round of operations against the jihadist group. According to authorities, the militants were seeking to attack Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations and Nov. 10 ceremonies that are held each year to commemorate Turkey's founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu right in his case against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While Turkish courts ruled that Kılıçdaroğlu "attacked Erdoğan's personal rights" in two separate speeches in 2012, the ECHR ruled that the country violated the main opposition leader's freedom of expression.
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.