Coronavirus
After Health Minister Fahrettin Koca confirmed Turkey's first case of coronavirus early on Wednesday morning, many Istanbul residents have turned to an age-old staple for protection against the virus: lemon-scented cologne. The cologne is very popular throughout Turkey due to its antibacterial properties (it contains alcohol) and its pleasant, refreshing citrusy scent.
Turkey's Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) has announced that it launched investigations into businesses that try to "unlawfully profit" from the fear of the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on March 11 declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic as the global death toll rose above 4,300 and the number of confirmed cases exceeded 121,000.
The"Big White Meeting" that Turkey's healthcare workers' unions were planning to hold in Ankara to protest widespread violence against healthcare workers in the country was cancelled due to the first official case of coronavirus being detected in Turkey March 10, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said March 11.
At least four universities in the mega-city Istanbul have announced they would be suspending on-campus classes for two weeks. Boğaziçi University became the first state institution to call off classes amid the coronavirus outbreak, moving up and extending their spring break.
The Turkish government will step in to ensure the price of face masks do not skyrocket amid the coronavirus outbreak, authorities announced on March 11. Health Minister Koca said that prices of masks will be subject to the the ministry’s “preliminary approval,” whereas Trade Minister Pekcan said they will make sure that "people obtain masks with reasonable prices."
Turkey plans to reduce foreign tourist demand until the end of April amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, Culture and Tourism Minister Nuri Ersoy said during a press conference on March 11. He also said that hotels had been advised to postpone summer openings.
An aide of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan scanned journalists and politicians who crowded around the Turkish leader as he arrived in parliament with a thermal camera, checking people he met for fever which could be linked to coronavirus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has praised Turkey for taking "vigilant" measures against coronavirus (COVID-19). Irshad Shaikh, the WHO Health Security Program Leader in Turkey, praised Ankara's preventative measures and good organization, saying it had been "very lucky, vigilant and cautious." "Turkey is an advanced country, and most of the systems were already there. What was needed was to make sure they are quick to this outbreak," Shaikh told Reuters.
Investigations were launched into 29 social media users over sharing "provocative" posts on coronavirus (COVID-19), hours after Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported Turkey's first coronavirus case. According to the prosecutor's office, the 29 social media users shared posts accusing Turkish authorities of hiding the coronavirus cases is the country, as well as those that incite panic and fear in the society.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said "no virus is stronger than our precautions" hours after Turkey reported its first coronavirus case. Erdoğan said that the person who was diagnosed with coronavirus returned to Turkey after visiting Europe, adding that the individual's treatment is ongoing. "The patient's family is also being observed," he said.
Two people were quarantined on suspicion of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır and the northwestern province of Sakarya on March 11, hours after Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported Turkey's first coronavirus case.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca early on March 11 announced the first confirmed coronavirus case in the country. The patient is a male Turkish citizen and has been placed in quarantine, Koca said.
Turkish Health Minister Koca said on March 10 that he would meet with the country’s education minister in the upcoming coming days and discuss temporally closing schools across the country. He also said that the Turkish presidency can publish a notice restricting civil servants' international travel except in obligatory cases.
A person was suspected to have been infected by the novel coronavirus on a Stockholm-Istanbul flight on March 10, causing a brief panic among the passengers. The person in question was later examined by an airport doctor who did not find any symptoms of the virus.
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Şenay Aydemir writes: It seems like Netflix, rather than providing resources to Turkey and contributing to the advancement of the sector, chooses to work with producers that already have a strong share in the market. Though the Netflix Turkey team claims they are open to all kinds of projects and ideas, they are obviously more open to certain ideas, projects and production companies.
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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.
Politics
Turkey's southernmost province of Hatay was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 and authorities said that two militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were nabbed following the blast. Hatay Governor Rahmi Doğan said that the two militants were a part of a group of four who had flown from the Syrian town of Manbij to the Amanos Mountains in Hatay using paramotors.
A report prepared by a number of civil society organizations regarding trials in Turkey prosecuting conscientious objectors to mandatory military service in the country has influenced the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to pressure Turkey on recognizing the right to conscientious objection.
President Erdoğan and the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar on Oct. 26 voiced their support for a two-state solution on the divided island of Cyprus. "We believe a two-state solution must now be brought to the table with a realistic proposal," Erdoğan said. Erdoğan also said that he would visit Turkish Cyprus on Nov. 15 and expressed his desire to have a picnic at Varosha.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 78 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were killed and dozens more were injured in Russian airstrikes on a military training camp in Idlib. Those targeted were in a camp belonging to Faylaq al-Sham, the monitor said, adding that it was the deadliest attack since the ceasefire came into force in March.
The second indictment against human rights defender and businessman Osman Kavala presents no new grounds to justify his detention and is politically motivated, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in a statement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged the UNESCO to release its report on the restoration works in the iconic Hagia Sophia as soon as possible. Lavrov said that for Russia Hagia Sophia is particularly valuable from the spiritual point of view.
Twenty-eight of Istanbul's 39 districts have registered more than 50 percent increase in COVID-19 infections in the past week compared to the average of this month, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. “The increase rate is 50-60 percent in 11 districts, 60-70 percent in 10 districts, and 70-80 percent in seven districts,” he told reporters on Oct. 26.
A Canadian vehicle manufacturer has suspended the delivery of aircraft engines to Turkey in the wake of reports that some of those engines are being used on Turkish combat drones deployed by Azerbaijan in its conflict against Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Former main opposition CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has appealed to the Constitutional Court following two lower courts' refusal to retry him over violations of his rights to participate in politics and personal freedom.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a worker to enjoy a nice cup of tea as the latter complained of not being able to bring home bread. Erdoğan said that the worker's plea sounded like a huge exaggeration, evoking infamous French ruler Marie-Antoinette who told the people to eat cake if they can't find bread.
A dynamite blast in the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant damaged cars that were parked in the nearby lot, ANKA News Agency reported on Oct. 25. Locals have complained from the use of dynamite in the construction before, saying that the dust harms their crops, and the blasts have even cracked the walls of their homes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has challenged the United States on a sanctions threat over Ankara’s support to Baku in its clashes with Armenia. "You [Americans] do not know who you are playing with. Go ahead with your sanctions," Erdoğan said. He also slammed the U.S. for not delivering promised F-35 fighter jets.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that Baku would use Turkish F-16 jets in case of an external attack on the country. "They've been asking me about why Turkish F-16s are here. I'm tired of answering. Everyone knows that the F-16s are waiting. They came here for a drill and our Turkish brothers kept them here for moral support. They'll see those F-16s if there is an external attack on us," Aliyev said.
Mehmet Ayışığı is a well-known and well-liked figure in Istanbul's Kurtuluş neighborhood, wandering the streets and calling out to customers with his signature voice. After Ayışığı's cart was confiscated by the Şişli Municipality due to noise complaints, area residents marched together with the vendor in a gesture of solidarity against police.
Known for its lush natural beauty, the environmental integrity of the town of Şavşat is under threat due to a hydroelectric power plant, where construction is due to continue despite being previously blocked by a regional court. “The people of the area are very determined. They will definitely not allow the construction of a hydroelectric power plant,” said Tahsin Yazıcı of the Kireçli village, saying that the villagers would use their democratic rights.
Turkish law enforcement detained some 38 journalists in the first eight months of 2020, a report by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) revealed. Meanwhile, access to 53 news stories and 75 websites was blocked. Charges of insulting the president resulted in the detention of 24 people, the arrest of three and an investigation into one person.
Istanbul police violently detained around 40 members of a pro-Kurdish youth union involving pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) Youth Assembly, Mesopotamia Agency reported on Oct. 25. Police claimed that a banner held up by demonstrators was criminal on the grounds that it displayed a photo of İbrahim Kaypakkaya, a deceased Turkish leftist.
Economy
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.