Politics
All of the provincial bar associations in Turkey have joined forces to criticize the government for working on a bill seeking to change their election system. The bar associations said that they have not been consulted on this draft bill and suggested the establishment of a commission including their representatives which would guide the government in reforming the Attorneyship Law.
Chief of Staff of the Turkish Navy Rear Admiral Cihat Yaycı, who resigned after being demoted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said that he was set up in a conspiracy reminiscent of those previously used by Gülenists. "It's clear that I can't continue my duty as a rear admiral who was dismissed as a result of lies and slander via a plot," Yaycı said in his resignation letter.
The Turkish government’s move to detain and replace HDP mayors in Kurdish-majority areas "appears to be politically motivated," Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief said. "Turkey should repeal measures inhibiting the functioning of local democracy," he said in a statement on May 18.
Amid rumors of an early election fueled by MHP leader Bahçeli's proposal to change electoral law, Future Party leader Davutoğlu has challenged the gov't to call snap election. “If your purpose is really to declare an early election, bring it on! Let's go to early election. But if you are after petty concerns such as changing the nation's real agenda with early election [rumors], then stop wasting our nation's energy with such cheap manipulations,” Davutoğlu said.
Shortly after being dismissed from duty, Iğdır mayor Yaşar Akkuş has been arrested. Meanwhile, HDP officials on May 18 staged protests against the government for targeting elected mayors and denounced the crackdown as a "coup."
RTÜK head Ebubekir Şahin has backtracked from his earlier remarks on the unnecessity of fining a pro-government channel over an Islamist commentator's remarks on her family's “capability” to kill at least 50 people if a new coup attempt is undertaken in Turkey, saying that the remarks are "unacceptable." No one should doubt that the RTÜK will do what's necessary in line with its founding objectives," Şahin said on May 18 following backlash.
Chief of Staff of the Turkish Navy Rear Admiral Cihat Yaycı, who is known with his stance against the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, resigned on May 18, two days after he was demoted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Yaycı is also known as the architect of the maritime deal signed between Ankara and Tripoli.
Ayhan Bilgen, the co-mayor of the eastern province of Kars, has received a death threat on social media, with a user sending a picture of bullets, while mentioning JİTEM, a clandestine gendarmerie intelligence unit responsible for dozens of unsolved murders, predominantly in the 1990s.
Eren Yıldırım, the CHP's Yüreğir district youth branch head, was arrested over allegedly attacking a group of aid workers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). "Yıldırım was arrested upon orders from the government. I condemn the judiciary for issuing rulings upon orders," CHP deputy leader Onursal Adıgüzel said.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that the government will change in the next elections since people will hand power to those advocating democracy. "The people are seeing that our beautiful country is not being governed properly and that we're heading downhill like a truck with no brakes. They also know that the only way to get rid of this course depends on their choice in the next elections," he said.
The MHP has stepped in to complicate the efforts of the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) and Future Party, both founded by former high-level AKP officials, to form parliamentary groups necessary for them to run in elections, in a bid to cover AKP's concerns on losing deputies. MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli called for making changes in the election law and parliamentary bylaws even though the two new parties would barely get deputies from the MHP.
The European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor has called on the Turkish government to stop removing HDP's elected mayors without court decisions. “Local councils should have at least the possibility to appoint an interim mayor among its elected members!” he tweeted. “Credibility on fundamentals of democracy is at stake.”
PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's brother Mehmet Öcalan and his lawyers have applied to the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office to be granted a visit to İmralı Island, where Öcalan is imprisoned. The last time family members contacted Öcalan was on April 27, when they held a telephone conversation. This was the first time ever Turkish authorities allowed Öcalan to speak with his family on the phone.
Turkey's media watchdog RTÜK head Ebubekir Şahin has refused to fine the pro-government Ülke TV channel over Islamist commentator Sevda Noyan's remarks on her family's “capability” to kill at least 50 people if a new coup attempt is undertaken in Turkey. "If a penalty will be given, it should not be one that makes coup lovers and praisers happy," Şahin said. "We're not in a position to sentence the statements made against those who praise a coup," he added.
HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar has denied former deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder's remarks on the right-wing İYİ (Good) Party having consulted them in the past. Another politician to comment on Önder's claims was experienced politician Ahmet Türk, the sacked mayor of the southeastern province of Mardin, who said that he was surprised to hear them. There are things that need to be kept hidden in politics," Türk said.
Editor's Pick
Soner Çağaptay and Raffaella A. Del Sarto write: The EU often praises itself as a promoter of democracy and regional stability by highlighting the power of its enlargement process to include new members in the “neighbourhood.” Yet in the case of Turkey, its ill-conceived policies may well have contributed to the opposite. A clumsy EU has repeatedly gotten its policy toward Turkey wrong, often inadvertently helping Erdoğan at key points during his rise while creating preventable tensions with Ankara.
Politics
The Turkish Lira further lost its value on Oct. 27, measuring more than 8.1 liras on the dollar as a result of more than 35 percent depreciation this year. The depreciation is a result of Ankara's increasingly strained relationship with the European Union, as well as the United States.
The German government has said that the Erdoğan regime has in recent years increased its support for Milli Görüş, an Islamist group monitored by German intelligence services due to alleged extremist leanings. In its response to a parliamentary question, the German government has also emphasized the links between Milli Görüş and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The ruling AKP has turned down the opposition's demand for budget discussions to be aired live on the official channel of parliament, called TBMM TV. The opposition deputies have said that these talks need to be conducted in a “transparent” manner as it concerns the people, with a CHP lawmaker saying that Turkey has not experienced such a “dark period” in its history before.
An employee of the United States’ Istanbul consulate was handed five years and two months in prison on charges of aiding the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. The court did not arrest Nazmi Mete Cantürk, meaning he will be free pending appeal.
HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar has said that the party condemns extremists' abuse of Islam to justify their violent actions, but also slams France's treatment of Islam in a row about cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Many prisoners in Turkey, particularly political prisoners, are held in facilities hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from their families, making it very difficult for visitation. Requests by prisoners for transfer to a closer penal institution are now being rejected by the authorities on account of the coronavirus.
As coronavirus cases surge in Istanbul, Governor Ali Yerlikaya said that he can be a "scapegoat" if anyone's looking for someone to blame. The governor also said that he has been working closely with Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu. “My job is not politics, it is service. To that end, I am continually in contact with İmamoğlu. You should know that we are working very well [together]. There is no problem whatsoever,” he said.
President Erdoğan has filed a criminal complaint with Turkish authorities against prominent Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders saying that he had insulted him on social media. "Even though the crime was committed directly against the person in the presidential seat, the value that is being violated is the state's political government structure," Erdoğan's lawyers said.
Turkish police have apprehended seven ISIS militants who were preparing for attacks in the capital Ankara in the latest round of operations against the jihadist group. According to authorities, the militants were seeking to attack Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations and Nov. 10 ceremonies that are held each year to commemorate Turkey's founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu right in his case against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While Turkish courts ruled that Kılıçdaroğlu "attacked Erdoğan's personal rights" in two separate speeches in 2012, the ECHR ruled that the country violated the main opposition leader's freedom of expression.
A coal thermal power plant in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir is predicted to make more than 11 million people ill over the course of 35 years, a health impact report for the project revealed. The Right to Clean Air Plaform reported that the pollutants from the Alpu Coal Thermal Power Plant will spread to 24 provinces and destroy local farming land.
A group of miners from the Central Anatolian district of Ermenek set off once again on their march to demand unpaid wages, only to be met with a gendarmerie blockade on Oct. 26. In a video showing the miners' exchange with officers, one of them is heard saying "We are angry. We are hungry, that's why we're yelling. You can't yell!"
One of downtown Istanbul's last remaining green spaces was rezoned to allow construction despite the protest of locals. Also designated as an emergency meeting point, the green space was permitted for the construction of a 10-story building.
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.
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.