Coronavirus
This week is “very critical” to curb the speed of the coronavirus' spread in Turkey, and the country's success will depend on whether citizens are abiding by the measures, said Prof. Alpay Azap, a member of the Health Ministry's Coronavirus Science Committee.
A group of Turkish firms have collaborated to undertake the domestic mass production of ventilators, which are critical in treating COVID-19. One of these firms is Baykar, a company co-owned by Selçuk Bayraktar, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkish President Erdoğan has launched a national donation campaign to offer financial help to those hit by the coronavirus outbreak. “Within the context of 'We are enough for each other, Turkey' campaign, a bank account has been opened by the Family, Labor and Social Services ministry. I initiate the campaign by donating my seven months of salary," Erdoğan said on March 30.
Some 40 Kurdish musicians have prepared a video clip showing themselves performing the Kurdish version of the Italian folk song "Bella Ciao" in an attempt to show solidarity with Italy amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Turkey is not among the non-EU emerging economies in Central and Eastern Europe that has applied for emergency assistance from a $50 billion pool available via the IMF’s rapid financial support facilities, the organization’s European Department Director Poul M. Thomsen said.
Renowned Turkish journalist Ece Temelkuran said that right-wing populist leaders in the world are failing in their leadership skills regarding the struggle against the novel coronavirus. “They [right-wing leaders] are all retreating, we don't see them as often as before. They love to speak normally,” she said during an interview with pan-European political movement DiEM25.
Turkey’s deaths from the coronavirus increased by 37 to 168 on March 30, as the number of confirmed cases rose by 1,610 to 10,827, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. The minister added on Twitter that 11,535 tests had been conducted on March 30 - the highest since the start of the outbreak.
HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar said that the party will establish an Alternative Science Commission that will convey reliable information to the public. "The society needs reliable information above all else. A center that puts the people's security at its core must be formed. The most urgent need is to protect the society," Sancar said.
Mega Turkish conglomerate Sabancı Holding donated 10 tons of disinfectant to the Health Ministry to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Developed by Sabancı University’s nanotechnology lab, the product provides protection against viruses and bacteria for up to three months, daily Dünya reported.
Istanbul police raided a coronavirus-themed party March 29, dismissing a crowd of about 100 and detaining some 12 people. “We’re detaining them on charges of ‘disobeying preventions targeted at contagious diseases,’” police said.
Turkey's Interior Ministry has announced that 39 residential areas in 18 provinces were put under quarantine in a bid to prevent the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus (COVID-19). Quarantines are underway in one town, six neighborhoods, 28 villages and four hamlets, the ministry said.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has urged the government to impose a city-wide curfew in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), citing the population of the city. "If 15 percent of the city's population go outside, that would mean 2.5 million people. The number corresponds to the population of some European cities," he said.
Inmates in Turkey’s correctional facilities will now be allowed 30 minutes a week on a video call system, in an attempt to limit human interaction and slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, staff at correctional facilities will be kept in isolation on their days off.
Water consumption in Turkey has become under scrutiny as authorities urge people to wash their hands frequently amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that led to millions of people staying home to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus. The General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works released a written statement on March 27, saying that "water has become more precious than ever" since consumption has increased since the beginning of the outbreak.
Family physicians reportedly receive a pay cut for every day they spend under quarantine and are thus unable to work, the head of the Family Physicians Associations Federation (AHEF) said. “It’s degrading to have our paychecks cut, almost like a punishment for getting the virus when we as physicians are out there risking our lives to do our jobs,” AHEF Chair Özlem Sezen told daily Sözcü.
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
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.
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.
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.