Coronavirus
Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said that to act in a way that would damage public health is a crime according to Turkish Penal Code, a day after dozens of pilgrims in the Central Anatolian province of Konya attempted to escape from coronavirus quarantine.
A pharmaceutical company in Germany owned by Turkish scientist Prof. Uğur Şahin signed contracts with Chinese Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceuticals and U.S.-based medical giant Pfizer to work on a coronavirus vaccine. The Turkish-owned company owns all the rights to the product and will sell in China and abroad, they said.
Prof. Alpay Azap, a member of Turkish Health Ministry's Science Council, has said that the number of coronavirus cases in Turkey can reach 30,000 if people are not careful enough. "We expect the number of cases to reach nearly 5,000 in the next three to four weeks if precautions are adopted. If not, then the number can reach 30,000," Prof. Alpay Azap told broadcaster Habertürk, adding that people need to act in accordance with the warnings.
Some 3,614 Turkish citizens will be flown to Turkey from nine different European countries on 34 different flights until the end of the day, said Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu March 17.
Nine AKP and two CHP lawmakers are in self-imposed quarantine and are under close surveillance of Parliament Speaker's Office, sources told Duvar, adding that the office called the parties to ask lawmakers to not show up in parliament. "Our lawmaker friends have put themselves under quarantine in their houses for 14 days as necessitated by their responsibilities," Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said on March 17.
Labor union leaders in Turkey noted the importance of paid time off for older workers and parents as schools are suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak. The leaders also pressed that wages and retiree pensions do not provide sufficient resources for workers and retirees to maintain the kinds of healthy diets and sanitary homes that can act as precautions against the coronavirus.
Muslims in the Eyyübiye district of the southeastern province of Urfa have said that they won't abide by the Diyanet's decision to suspend all congregational prayers in mosques. "We are not afraid of the coronavirus. Since Allah ordered prayers to be performed with congregation, we will go on," one of the residents told local media.
Gökçe Başbuğ writes: That the coronavirus first became an epidemic in East Asia gave other countries time to prepare. However, it is clear that this time was not used wisely. Unfortunately, while travel bans and city quarantines were imposed, aggressive testing methods were not developed, and the public was not informed in a transparent manner. Fortunately, it is still possible for countries like Turkey that are at the beginning of this process to learn lessons from South Korea's experience and take steps accordingly.
A 35-year-old Turkish citizen has been under quarantine since March 13 because he has not been notified of the results of his coronavirus test, which was administered upon his return to Turkey from Zurich. Serkan Özkan had a fever and cough upon his arrival in Istanbul but was not placed under quarantine. Uncertain of his test results he self-isolated, wondering if he is among the 29 newly diagnosed persons that Turkish Health Minister said were detected March 16.
Employees of the Turkish Health Ministry’s hospital appointment call centers have been suffering from a lack of basic cleaning supplies like soap in their offices around Turkey amid a coronavirus outbreak. Wishing to stay anonymous out of fear for their job, employees have reported they’re not offered soap and paper towels in the offices where thousands of people work.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel released a video about social distancing, the practice of avoiding human interaction to prevent the spread of coronavirus, with Turkish subtitles. The government spokesperson shared the video with a message in Turkish.
A total of 19 people were detained over sharing "unfounded and provocative" posts on social media about coronavirus, Turkey's Interior Ministry has said. The interior ministry statement said there were social media posts which were targeting officials and spreading panic and fear by suggesting that the virus had spread widely in Turkey and that officials had taken insufficient measures.
Dozens of pilgrims taken into coronavirus quarantine in a student dormitory in the Central Anatolian province of Konya confronted police during their attempt to escape. The incident was slammed on social media, with Twitter users saying that the escape attempt is reckless. When asked about the incident, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that "a more detailed plan was prepared on the issue."
Following demands from healthcare professionals due to coronavirus threat rising in Turkey, the Ministry of Health has began to prepare regulations that will limit the number of applications for emergency healthcare service and initiate an incentivized appointment-based system. Doctors warn that at the moment family health centers and their practices are not enough to respond to frustrated patients which might fuel violence against healthcare workers.
Some 29 more people have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, bringing the total in Turkey to 47, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said late on March 16.
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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.