Coronavirus
A minibus driver in Turkey’s capital has dressed his vehicle in a surgical mask to draw attention to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The driver covered the bus’ front bumper in a white cloth that he attached to the side mirrors.
HDP deputy Meral Danış Beştaş was criticized for not imposing quarantine on herself upon returning from Germany on March 8. "From what we see on social media, Beştaş returned from Germany and her quarantine period is ongoing under normal circumstances," AKP Group Deputy Chair Cahit Özkan said in parliament. "Yes, I went to Germany and came back. All the necessary tests were carried out at the airport, my health is perfectly fine. If there were problems, I wouldn't jeopardize my friends and the society," Beştaş said in return.
Turkey’s traditional lemon-scented cologne will now be subject to pre-approval by the Trade Ministry in an attempt to ensure domestic supplies of the alcohol-based disinfectant amid the coronavirus outbreak. Disinfectants, ethyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide will also require ministry approval prior to export, the official gazette said March 18.
As the number of coronavirus cases in Turkey continues to rise daily, it is nearly impossible to see people on some of Istanbul's most crowded streets. Every time someone coughs or sneezes they are looked upon with anger, and shops are closing their doors one by one. Duvar correspondents Filiz Gazi and Hacı Bişkin report.
A total of 28 pilgrims were caught in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum after escaping from coronavirus quarantine. "We sent them to the quarantine areas in [the Central Anatolian province of] Konya and [the capital] Ankara. There are those who manage to avoid quarantine. Our citizens should let us know if they witness such an incident," Erzurum Governor Okay Memiş said.
As the number of people who test positive for the coronavirus increases and the country records its first virus-related death, Turkey is running out testing kits. In Istanbul, only four hospitals can currently provide the tests.
Four more Taiwanese citizens returning from Turkey tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the number of cases among a group of 15 returning to Taiwan from Turkey to nine, Taiwanese Health Minister Shih-Chung said March 17. “The risk of contracting the coronavirus in Turkey is high,” Shih-Chung noted.
The evacuation of a total of 2,807 Turkish citizens from Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands was completed, Vice President Fuat Oktay said. "All measures for their health, safety, nutrition, and accommodation have been taken in line with the rules set by the Health Ministry and Science Board," he said.
A shopkeeper in Istanbul's historic Grand Bazaar was reportedly the first person to be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in Turkey. A video on social media showed two healthcare workers in medical gears talking to two shopkeepers. "You know, the first case is from here and it has been increasing. It was here, in your bazaar," one of the healthcare workers says in the video.
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca late on March 17 reported the country's first death from coronavirus. Koca also said that the number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to 98, with 51 new cases confirmed.
A top Chinese official said on March 17 that China has completed the clinical research of ‘Favipiravir’ – an antiviral drug that has shown good clinical efficacy against the novel coronavirus. Zhang Xinmin said that patients who were given Favipiravir reported positive results after four days of treatment.
Ali Babacan, the chairman of DEVA, has shared a series of proposals on what the gov't should do to limit the negative financial effects of the novel coronavirus on businesses and citizens. “Every kind of employment incentive should be utilized as soon as possible. Unemployment funds are for these days,” he said.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has voiced concern about the availability of masks and other protective equipment against the coronavirus outbreak at health centers. TTB head Adıyaman said there are hospitals that have only a week's supply of masks and gloves left.
Turkey's presidential communications director, Fahrettin Altun, on March 17 denied rumors circulating on social media that a state of emergency or curfew will be imposed amid coronavirus concerns.
AKP Istanbul deputy Ahmet Hamdi Çamlı has advised people under self-imposed quarantine to "reproduce," referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's repeated suggestion of having at least three children. "Our President has been reminding and encouraging the people to have three children regarding the population issue that's inclining towards decreasing. Corona, that seems to be a malice, will contribute to prosperity and goodness," Çamlı tweeted on March 17.
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Ankara's conflict-oriented foreign policy has received the public's support for military operations, but public opinion often fails to translate into votes. While Ankara's "enemy" in military conflict is ever-changing, the northern Syria conflict was revealed to be the only intervention that expanded the government's voter base.
Selahattin Demirtaş writes: You have re-arrested us after six years. You say we are the instigators of the Kobane massacres when we were actually the victims. Do you think you will be able to make us responsible for this through conspiracies based on secret witnesses and be saved from responsibility? You must genuinely believe that the fascism you rely on today will always exist.
Politics
Hate speech and threats against Armenians in Turkey have accelerated following the outbreak of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. HDP MP Garo Paylan, himself a Turkish-Armenian, has been targeted for his insistence on a ceasefire. "We can conclude that there will be no favorable results from this war--which has caused loss and destruction on both sides—and that the solution is on the peace table," Paylan said.
Turkey's top medical association has said that 143,000 coronavirus patients are currently treated at their homes, whereas 460,000 others have been placed under mandatory home quarantine. The Turkish Medical Association made the remarks based on the results of a survey conducted with family physicians across the country.
A report penned by CHP lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu has said that 29 journalists, writers and publishers have received jail terms during January-September period of this year, 20 of whom have been arrested. "The animosity against journalists that is on the rise during the AKP rule is due to the government's stance against freedom of press,” Tanrıkulu said.
A group of university students and alumni are requesting that the Credit and Dormitories Agency (KYK) annul all loans. Currently, some five million Turkish university students are in debt to the state-run KYK, and 300,000 face prosecution for not being able to pay back the debt.
The lira sank to a record low to near 8 versus the dollar after Turkey’s central bank ignored investors' calls to raise its main interest rate. The decision to leave the rate unchanged prompted economists to question the central bank’s commitment to lowering inflation and its independence from the government.
Putin said on Oct. 22 Russia and Turkey disagree about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but emphasized strong ties between Moscow and Ankara. Erdoğan "might seem tough, but is a flexible politician and reliable partner for Russia," Putin said.
A 24-year-old woman was shot dead by her brother in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, news portal Jinnews reported on Oct. 21. Meanwhile, a local court discounted a femicide assailant's sentence on "good behavior," adding to the list of killers that Turkish courts are lenient toward.
Protesting miners from around Turkey were promised a solution within 10 days during an Oct. 21 meeting with Justice and Development Party (AKP) Group Deputy Chairwoman Özlem Zengin. Hundreds of miners started marching to the capital earlier this month, as survivors of the Soma Mining Disaster are yet to receive damages, and workers in Ermenek have 13 months of unpaid wages.
A newly passed legislation will allow ministries to veil their budget items as they submit their budget proposals to parliament. This means that they are no longer obliged to make it public how much is paid to private contractors for projects.
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.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has confirmed that Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems were tested last week, as he also dismissed NATO allies' concerns on the issue. Akar also said that the S-400 won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but rather "used as a standalone system similar to the use of Russian-made S-300 weapons that exist within NATO."
Turkey's Health Ministry will regulate the administration of flu shots through the online government portal as supplies will fall short of soaring demand. Patients will need to obtain prescriptions from their family practitioner, report to a pharmacy with their prescription. Pharmacies will be supplied shots only after receipt of a prescription.
The AKP and its ally MHP on Oct. 21 rejected the HDP's demand to investigate what really unfolded during the 2014 Kobane protests for the 10th time. The HDP's demand came after dozens of its members, including co-mayors of the eastern province of Kars, were arrested over the protests six years later earlier this month.
A bus assistant in Turkey sexually harassed a 17-year-old passenger on a trip with Metro Turizm vehicle, notorious for sexual assault incidents. The company told an Instagram user who shared footage of the assault that the worker was uninsured, and asked them to remove the video.
Ankara said on Oct. 21 it extended the stay of its Oruç Reis survey vessel and two other ships in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Oct. 27. Ankara had withdrawn Oruç Reis from last month to "allow for diplomacy" before a European Union summit at which Cyprus sought sanctions against Turkey, but sent it back this month, prompting an angry rebuke from Greece, France and Germany.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has determined that teacher and author Tahir Baykuşak's rights were violated by police who assaulted him during an ID check in Istanbul in 2016. The court said that a proper investigation was not carried out and that the mistreatment of police violated the 17th Article of the constitution.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Oct. 21 condemned Turkey for "violating international law" during one-day regional summit. Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the "baseless" allegations a day later, saying that Ankara will continue to protect "our rights and the Turkish Cypriots' rights with determination."
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.
Turkish police on Oct. 22 detained 14 people in anti-ISIS operations in Istanbul. Police said that 13 of those apprehended are foreigners and their extradition processes began. Sources told state-run Anadolu Agency that some of the suspects were active in Syria.
Economy
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.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that income per capita in Turkey would drop to 2005 levels, an annual average of $7,720. The IMF also predicted a five percent contraction in the Turkish economy until the end of 2020, despite Ankara's 0.3 percent growth projection.
Turkey's net international investment deficit grew by $20 billion from the end of 2019 to reach a total $365.8 billion at the end of August. Turkey's international assets shrunk by 10.2 percent to reach $227.4 billion in the same period.
President Erdoğan on Oct. 17 announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea, following a similar find in August. As a result of testing, analysis and detailed engineering work, another 85 billion cubic meters were added to the reserves we had discovered. The total amount of natural gas reserves in the TUNA-1 well of the Sakarya Gas Field reached 405 billion cubic meters," Erdoğan said.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed a dip in real estate sales vis-a-vis last year in September, dropping by 6.9 percent for some 136,744 residences sold. Meanwhile, the total volume of sales between January and September was larger than the number in 2019.
Urban Beat
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.