Coronavirus
Turkey has expanded its travel ban to six more countries, making the total number of countries 20, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. The United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Ireland have been added to the list of banned countries, Koca said.
Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has suspended all congregational prayers in mosques, including traditional Friday prayers, amid coronavirus fears. “Including the Friday prayers, congregational prayers will be suspended in mosques. During this period, instead of Friday prayers, [Muslims] can perform noon prayers [at home],” Diyanet head Ali Erbaş said.
The president of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Sinan Adıyaman, has said that the association has been receiving unconfirmed information that the number of coronavirus patients in Turkey is much higher than 18. He also called on the Heath Ministry to increase the number of health centers performing coronavirus tests.
Starting early on March 17, Turkey is closing all cafes, cinemas, theaters, restaurants, gyms and other venues, the Interior Ministry said. All gatherings and activities by non-governmental organizations will be also postponed.
Turkish citizens studying abroad report lacking clear instructions from their schools and government regarding whether they must return to Turkey. Some students abroad were told by their universities that Turkey’s Council of Higher Education had told them to return to their home country, but an official from the institution refuted that such a directive was given.
Following the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Turkey, many people have rushed to supermarkets and stores to purchase bulk supplies of pasta, flour, cooking oil, lemon-scented cologne, and other staples, though medical experts say that a two-week supply is sufficient. The doctors warn that wearing masks or stockpiling cologne and pasta does not protect one from the virus, but changing one's lifestyle and daily habits will. The best way to limit spread of the disease is to limit contact with other people.
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) held its 14th Istanbul Women's Branch Congress March 15 amid worldwide cancellations due to the coronavirus. CHP Istanbul Provincial Chair and physician, Canan Kaftancioglu, was the target of criticism for insisting on holding the event and for giving a former party member a hug at his mother's funeral March 15.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has begun to hit the Turkish tourism industry, with sector representatives concerned about a rapid surge in hotel reservation and flight cancellations that have occurred as a result of the virus. Plane ticket sales have fallen by 80 percent due to the virus, according to Association of Travel Agency Managers (SAYD).
Utku Perktaş writes: New scientific evidence endorses that there may be a significant relationship between coronavirus and climate. As the environment gets dry, the weather gets warmer, the chances of the virus surviving in the external environment will decrease. However, although the climate is an important variable the host, which is the most important reason for the pandemic situation, is human.
Deputies from opposition Good Party (İYİ Parti) have called for a lockdown amid a surge in numbers of coronavirus cases in Turkey. The deputies tweeted calls for Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to initiate a lockdown as soon as possible to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.
Thousands of Muslims returning to Turkey from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia were taken into quarantine on March 15 due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Thousands of students residing in dormitories belonging to the Higher Education Loans and Dormitories Institution (KYK) were told to leave the dorms at midnight, with some unable to gather their belongings. The pilgrims under quarantine, meanwhile, complained about the dormitories being "similar to a barn."
Turkey will temporarily close bars and nightclubs as of Monday as part of measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak. The Interior Ministry on Sunday ordered the closure across all 81 provinces starting 10 a.m. local time today.
The number of coronavirus cases in Turkey has risen to 18, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said early March 16. Of the 18 cases, seven were people who returned from European countries and three came from the U.S., Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
Turkish President Erdoğan and his Azeri counterpart Aliyev agreed in a phone call on March 14 to mutually suspend road and air transportation between the two countries, excluding cargo. The move comes after Turkey announced on March 13 that it has imposed travel bans on nine additional countries.
People with HIV, the elderly, transgender people in transition, patients who suffer from a chronic illness, migrants and prisoners are at greater risk of the novel coronavirus. These risk-groups are especially advised to take care of their body and stay away from crowded places.
Editor's Picks
Vural Özdemir writes: Both scientists and journalists seek the truth. But the truth is caught between a rock and a hard place with COVID-19. We are facing, on the one hand, an anti-science movement and, on the other hand, scientific essentialism that omits the role of power politics and human values in the making of truth. As an antidote, we need a new narrative on evidence frameworks in journalism that expands on the classic 5W + 1H.
Musa Özuğurlu writes: Russia, by any means, wishes to see al-Assad in power at least for another term. It is trying quite unattainable formulas to make it possible for Muslim Brotherhood to return to Damascus after so many years. Let us see whether or not these attempts will bring the political transition and thus relief to Syria?
Politics
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been working on regulations that would control social media following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks on completely shutting the platforms or controlling them. A draft of the bill consisting of nine articles on the issue has been ready for a long time, sources told Duvar, adding that the examinations regarding international regulations are ongoing.
NATO has put a defense plan for Poland and Baltic states into action after Turkey dropped its objections, officials from Lithuania, Poland and France have said. NATO declined to comment directly, saying that it "has plans in place to protect all allies. Those plans are regularly revised and updated."
Germany will keep reviewing travel advice for Turkey, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on July 2, saying any decisions were coordinated with the EU and based on reliable data on infections and the health situation. Earlier, Turkey said that it is disappointed by the European Union's decision to exclude it from the list of countries recommended for non-essential travel.
Turkey's flagship carrier is planning to cut pilots' wages in half, lowering other paychecks and possibly restructure their payment scheme, a union representative told Bloomberg. Turkish Airlines paused commercial flights for about three months during the pandemic.
Turkey is remembering victims of the Sivas Massacre, which took place when a large group of radical Islamists set the Madımak Hotel in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas on fire on July 2, 1993, killing 33 intellectuals and two hotel personnel, on 27th anniversary. Also on July 2, a parliamentary inquiry to reveal the perpetrators of the Sivas Massacre was rejected by lawmakers of the AKP, MHP and the İYİ Party.
A Turkish court on July 2 heard a case about converting Istanbul's sixth century Hagia Sophia back into a mosque and will announce its verdict within 15 days, a lawyer said, on an issue which has drawn international expressions of concern. Greece said Turkey risked opening up "a huge emotional chasm" with Christian countries if it pressed ahead with the proposal to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
Turkey has carried out the largest anti-narcotics operation in its history, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on June 30, adding that it was conducted in cooperation with nine countries. "Traffic worth 500 million liras was prevented. It was the biggest operation in Turkey's history in terms of preventing income from drugs and crime," Soylu said.
Austria pledged on June 29 to find out who was behind clashes between Kurdish and Turkish protesters in the Austrian capital last week. "Austria's ambassador to Ankara will be invited to our ministry and informed of our concern," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, accusing Austrian security forces of meting out "harsh" treatment to the Turkish protesters.
Turkey shut down a total of 119 media outlets following the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, Vice President Fuat Oktay said in response to a parliamentary question submitted by Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Muazzez Orhan. A total of 53 newspapers, 20 magazines, 16 TV channels, 24 radio stations and six news agencies were shut down with state of emergency decrees.
A lawyer from Van Bar Association Migration and Asylum Commission said that the death toll in the migrant boat accident in Lake Van is unknown. "Unfortunately we don't have enough information about the boat that sank in Van Lake over the weekend. The Van Bar Association hasn't received a public defender request for the boat yet."
Turkish authorities arrested one person and detained 11 others for insulting Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak's family through their social media posts, state-run Anadolu Agency said on July 1. The suspects face charges of "insulting a public official," the agency said.
The Dutch Minister of Infrastructure Cora van Nieuwenhuizen has called on citizens of Turkish descent not to visit Turkey unless it is "mandatory," saying holidays or family visits are not essential. "Going to a country on the orange list is irresponsible and is an anti-social behavior," Nieuwenhuizen said. Netherlands’ coronavirus travel advice for Turkey currently stands at ‘orange’: travel only if absolutely essential.
The Turkish Competition Authority has launched a probe into German automotive giants Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The authority's announcement on July 1 came as Volkswagen AG canceled plans to build a car factory in Turkey after the coronavirus pandemic jolted auto markets.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told his counterparts from Turkey and Iran on July 1 that there was a need for peaceful dialogue between the opposing forces in Syrian war. "An inclusive inter-Syrian dialogue should be actively promoted within the framework of the constitutional committee in Geneva. I propose to support this process, to help the participants to meet and start a direct dialogue," Putin said.
Turkey's media watchdog issued a five-day blackout to two news broadcasters that are critical of the government. Both broadcasters will lose their licenses if they receive another broadcast interruption fine.
Turkish Deputy Parliament Speaker and main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Levent Gök broke a world record on running the longest uninterrupted session in a national parliament with eight hours and 13 minutes.
Turkey's ambassador to France İsmail Hakkı Musa said on July 1 that Paris had informed NATO it was suspending its involvement in a naval operation in the Mediterranean after a probe into an incident between French and Turkish warships did not back Paris' claims. "I had the information yesterday, it seems that the Courbet is withdrawing from this NATO exercise," he said.
The wife of an inmate diagnosed with cancer and coronavirus has urged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to release her husband. "This means he has been abandoned to die. I am calling upon the public, the Presidency, and the Ministry of Health: Release my husband right away. There are thousands of [coronavirus] patients in jail, their voices must be heard. People are coming face to face with death at the moment,” she said.
A new testing center in Istanbul Airport will offer all passengers COVID-19 tests for 110 Turkish Liras each (about $16). The center's capacity is an hourly 2,000.
Professor Haluk Savaş who was known for his resistance against Ankara's state of emergency decrees died on June 30. Savaş had been removed from his post at a university with a state of emergency decree and was refused a passport to travel abroad for cancer treatment.
Germany's Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that it was unconstitutional for police to remove posters of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) that Left Party deputy Michel Brandt hung in his office prior to a visit to the Bundestag by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2018.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed off on a new university because of a mistake in an executive order, which then got published in the official gazette. The gazette published a correction the next day, saying the correct word was "faculty" and not "university."
The United States will continue working with Turkish companies producing some parts of F-35 fighter jets until 2022, Turkey's state-owned Anadolu agency quoted a Pentagon spokeswoman as saying on July 1. "Our industry partners will carry out the continuing contracts," she said, adding the Pentagon was still looking for alternatives to Turkey.
Economy
Turkey's June inflation rates exceeded experts' expectations at 1.13 percent, almost double the estimates. Meanwhile, annual inflation reached 12.62 percent.
Positive developments in COVID-19 vaccine studies have stopped the steady increase in gold prices. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said on July 1 that their vaccines were effective in increasing recipients' antibodies.
New regulation concerning online and digital banking services will ban bank representatives from asking about users' ID information to confirm their identities. Representatives will instead be asking about digital ID informations and PIN numbers.
Turkey's Trade Ministry legalized 18 installments for touristic spending to incentivize consumers. The new legal installment limit will be applicable to travel agencies, airlines and hotels.
Broadly defined unemployment in Turkey has reached 39 percent according to the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK). The union disputed recently revealed official unemployment rate of 13.2 percent. DİSK claimed that only those looking for a job for a period of four weeks as unemployed were reflected in the official numbers.
Urban Beat
The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) likened railroads and highways in Turkey's capital Ankara to arteries in an eagle-eye shot of the city at night, dubbed "photo of the day" on June 28.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on June 25 announced that the municipality purchased a portrait of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II at a London auction. According to the London-based world-famous Christie's auction house, the municipality's winning bid amounted to £770,000 ($955,000) for the oil painting, which is believed to be the work of Italian painter Gentile Bellini in 1480.
Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry will be turning the iconic Galata Tower into a museum. The ministry will also launch a "culture route" that spans from the tower, along Istiklal Avenue and to Taksim Square. Minister Ersoy also said that the construction of the AKM would be completed within a month, ongoing since February 2019.
Turkey's first mass event after the COVID-19 pandemic brought together 50 ambassadors and their families, press and businessmen together in Mediterranean Antalya's Aspendos Theater. The concert was performed by Turkey's seven tenors, accompanied by the Antalya Opera and Ballet's orchestra.
Istanbul's 28th LGBTI+ Pride week started on June 22 with a week-long schedule, entirely planned online. After having been banned for the past five years, the Pride march will also be carried out digitally this year. The theme of the Pride week is "Where am I?" focusing on safe spaces for queers during the COVID-19 pandemic and immigration.