Coronavirus
The main opposition CHP's proposal calling for the government to postpone university and highschool entrance exams has been rejected by the votes of the AKP and MHP lawmakers. The proposal came after the government last month decided to move up the dates of the nationwide exams.
Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş has warned municipality personnel against engaging in public political arguments on social media platforms. “In their posts and in the images they use, they should refrain from including expressions, symbols, emblems, and other open references to affiliation with a political party," Yavaş said in his directive.
Ankara prosecutors have submitted to the Justice Ministry summary of proceedings seeking to have legislative immunity lifted for two main opposition CHP lawmakers for their remarks criticizing Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun's controversial construction in Istanbul. If the CHP lawmakers' parliamentary immunity is lifted, then the legal proceedings will go through and the opposition lawmakers will face charges of “insulting a public officer.”
Turkish main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu shared a video on social media to commemorate the seventh anniversary of Turkey's historic Gezi protests of 2013. The CHP leader read a poem by Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet to show solidarity with the protests, which started off with an environmental message but quickly became an anti-government movement.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş released a message on the seventh year anniversary of the Gezi Park protests, saying: “Gezi Resistance is not over, is continuing and we will definitely win it.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed those deeming Istanbul's conquest by the Ottoman Empire "an occupation," a week after Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy called it as such. "In the recent days, some ignorant people are attempting to describe it as occupation," Erdoğan said a week after Ersoy called it an occupation.
Turkish daily Cumhuriyet was forced to publish three disclaimers over a report on Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun's controversial construction. It published three "reply and correction" disclaimers on its front page over its report that the Istanbul Municipality demolished a pergola and fireplace which were "illegally" constructed on a plot rented by Altun overlooking the Bosphorus in the Kuzguncuk district.
AKP officials believe that DEVA leader Ali Babacan aims to make former president Abdullah Gül a presidential candidate. An AKP official also claimed that the new parties will form a right-wing alliance with İYİ (Good) Party and the Felicity Party to ensure that there's a second round, which would be the third alliance in the Turkish political scene.
Nergis Demirkaya reports: There is concern in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ranks that banning of parliamentary transfers between parties would effectively undermine rather than serve the party. Some unnerved members of the ruling party fear that such a move might lead to a similar outcome like last year's mayoral elections in Istanbul which brought defeat to the AKP.
The Turkish police on May 28 raided the pro-Kurdish HDP's Batman office and detained the provincial co-chairs Ömer Kulpu and Fatma Ablay. The raid lasted about two hours with the police forces blockading the area.
Daily Cumhuriyet has exposed former AKP deputy Burhan Kuzu's ties with another mafia boss named Güniz Akkuş. The daily reported that Akkuş had visited Kuzu in his office at the parliament when he was a lawmaker and the two had "inside jokes."
If parliamentary elections were held today in Turkey, just four political parties would exceed the 10 percent election threshold, according to a recent survey. The study put support at 34.49 percent for the ruling AKP, 30.65 percent for the main opposition CHP, 10.37 percent for the HDP, 10.25 percent for the İYİ Party and 8.15 percent for the MHP.
After former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced that former Major Gen. Mehmet Dişli was kept on duty despite an intelligence report urging for the Gülenist general's dismissal, main opposition CHP called on the gov't the reveal the content of the relevant report. CHP Deputy Chair Özgür Özel said that the 2015-dated report is important in terms of enlightening the process leading to the failed coup attempt of July 2016.
HDP deputy leader Alican Önlü said that the party will launch "an all out struggle against fascism," adding that it's need in the face of "all out attacks." He noted that the HDP has been carrying out discussions for a long time on how to stop fascism and construct the new era.
Former minister Yaşar Okuyan has accused MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli of being a MİT agent, as he cited MHP founder Alparslan Türkeş's letter on the issue as proof. "I have a handwritten letter from Türkeş. Those who are willing can check it and see that Türkeş wrote, 'Devlet Bahçeli is a MİT agent,'" Okuyan said in an interview.
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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.